In one of Orange County’s safest cities, voters still think about crime. So do Republican campaigns, who tout strong voter turnout even in traditionally Democratic strongholds.
Orange County, Calif. — When they come to campaign for the Board of Supervisors in November, they often have to spend some time talking to voters in the surrounding neighborhoods.
“When you are not in a blue district you tend to say ‘we are doing a better job with crime in our county,’ ” said Supervisor Shawn Nelson, a Republican running for re-election to his seat. “I think that that is what voters think about.”
The other candidates have said, too.
“I think that he’s got a great background in the Orange County area and knows the neighborhood issues,” said Supervisor Dennis Hollingshead, the only Democrat, who won a four-year term by 1,800 votes in November.
He said that it’s important to get out the vote in areas like his, where the crime rate is relatively low.
“If someone has an active criminal record, or has any kind of trouble, they can be a little bit reluctant to vote,” he said. “We have a very, very safe community. I would hate to see a change in that and I definitely do not want to see that happen. It is a very, very safe part of the county.”
Orange County sits in one of the safest regions, with the lowest rate of violent crime in the state of California — 4.5 per 100,000 residents — according to FBI Uniform Crime Report data from 2016. The state average is 6.6 per 100,000 residents.
Still, the Board of Supervisors has taken action to decrease crime, including the closure of three high-crime jails in 2014. The jail closings were approved by unanimous votes.
A year later, two men were charged with murder in the shooting death of a homeless man, who prosecutors said they believed had stolen a woman’s purse. At the time, city officials said they had determined that the man, who had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, was probably the victim.
Supervisor Hollingshead said he feels strongly about the safety of his district, which includes the westside of Santa Ana, but he sees