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    Former Irvine official is vying for a state Senate seat
    • July 13, 2023

    The open 37th Senate district race in Orange County just got more crowded.

    Former Irvine Councilmember Anthony Kuo this week announced his candidacy for the seat, which includes Huntington Beach, Laguna Niguel, Costa Mesa, Orange and Irvine.

    Kuo, who was first elected to the City Council in 2018 but lost a reelection bid in 2022, said he is running because he believes “leaders in Sacramento have taken our state in the wrong direction,” including the rising cost of living. Inflation, he said, has made it too hard for Californians to become homeowners, start small businesses and raise families.

    “I understand the struggles we face because Orange County is my home. We risk losing what has made living here so great,” Kuo said. “And it’s no longer anecdotal. We know friends and neighbors who are choosing to leave California because it’s just gotten too hard.”

    “That’s just top of mind for everybody,” Kuo said of inflation. “The state can do its part, too — whether that’s issues like the suspension or the lack of suspension of the most recent gas tax increase to just making it easier for families to live and businesses to thrive.”

    Kuo, who serves as a manager in the Orange County Auditor-Controller’s office, said he will push for residents to receive their “money’s worth” for the taxes they pay.

    Another issue for him is public safety, which Kuo said is personal to him as a native of Irvine, often touted as one of America’s safest cities.

    “This is what we used to say in Irvine a lot: If you live in a safe community, and you feel like you’re safe, nothing else really can matter,” he said. “But if you don’t feel comfortable walking to school and having your kids walk to school, it doesn’t matter how good the schools are.”

    Kuo said some of his friends, neighbors and even family members have left the state “largely as a result of California’s implementing of certain policies or its inaction on others.” He pointed to legislation that initially stalled this week in Sacramento that would make sex trafficking of minors a serious felony. (The bill did see some movement on Thursday.)

    “It shouldn’t be this hard for the legislature to do the right thing,” Kuo said.

    Kuo has already served a significant portion of the district and says his ties throughout the community run deep. Before he was elected to the City Council, Kuo spent nearly eight years on the Planning Commission and sat on the Orange County Fire Authority Board. Now, he serves in various leadership roles in the community.

    “As an urban councilmember, I think that my experience on the Irvine City Council sets me a little bit apart because of the breadth of issues that came before me,” Kuo said.

    The 37th Senate district is represented by Democratic Sen. Dave Min who earlier this year launched a bid for California’s 47th congressional district.

    Kuo, in addition to Sen. Josh Newmanformer Assemblymember Steven Choi, Villa Park councilmember Crystal Miles, Santa Ana College professor Ali Kowsari and another Irvine native Alex Mohajer, have all launched campaigns hoping to replace Min in the legislature.

    Newman and Mohajer are the only Democratic candidates. Kuo, Choi, Miles and Kowsari are running as Republicans.

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    ​ Orange County Register