Irvine City Council candidates in their own words: What are their priorities? What do they stand for? What is their commitment to our community? 


Election season is upon us. While state and national politics dominant most media coverage, Irvine has an important election deciding our city’s future and the leaders who will guide it. Irvine is a model city for not just Orange County but the state and the country. It’s safe, it’s clean and the schools are incredible.

What are the priorities for each council candidate? What do they stand for? What is their commitment to our community?

In their own words below, candidates offer their priorities, why they’re running and why they deserve your vote.



Lauren Johnson-Norris

Irvine Commissioner/Businesswoman

Lauren Johnson-Norris

I’ve spent my whole life fighting for families, whether it was battling a broken system as a public defender, or as an Irvine community services commissioner advocating for additional park space, better transportation options and more childcare facilities for working parents.

Now, I’m ready to bring my years of experience as a small-business owner, attorney and community services commissioner to fight for all of Irvine’s families and residents. It’s time for a City Council that listens and puts our community first.

Unchecked development has led to traffic gridlock, overcrowded schools, preschool waiting lists and congested shopping centers. Every day the city moves further away from being a planned community. Traffic gets worse while the cost of living increases.

The City Council was supposed to have a plan to tackle traffic a year ago but won’t take action. No more delays. I have a detailed plan to battle traffic and over-development that I will implement on day one. We must protect our quality of life.

My priorities are simple: protect our community, listen to residents and make Irvine an even better place to live, work and raise a family. It’s more than just words, it’s my life’s work.

Campaign Website:

Carrie O’Malley

Commissioner / Taxpayer Advocate

Carrie O’Malley

My husband and I have lived in Irvine for over 20 years. As a mother of two teenage children who play Irvine sports and attend local schools, I’m dedicated to protecting the outdoor amenities, open space, sports fields and programs, and fine education that make Irvine the place we love.

As a twenty-year Irvine resident and an original homeowner in Northpark, my heart and family are deeply rooted in Irvine. I advocate for Irvine residents as chair of the Irvine Taxpayers Association, Irvine transportation commissioner and vice president of the Northpark Homeowners Association. As a public safety and transportation policy expert at the state and local level, one motto has served me well: make our residents’ safety and quality of life my top priorities. As a community leader, I am proud of the accomplishments we have achieved on these priorities for Irvine.

As an Irvine City Council member, I’ll work to keep our city one of the safest in America, protect our first class education system and preserve our open spaces. As I have done in my policy career, we will adopt fiscally responsible and practical solutions that protect Irvine taxpayers and our treasured quality of life.

I would be honored to have your vote.

Campaign Website:

Kev Abazajian

University Professor / Scientist

Kev Abazajian

Irvine, the city I am proud to call home, is facing horrendous traffic, overcrowded classrooms, backroom deals and dwindling community services. I am Kev Abazajian, a professor, scientist and community leader committed to addressing the needs of Irvine residents through fact-based solutions. This is why I am endorsed by long-term City Councilwoman Mary Ann Gaido, who helped draft the original 1973 City of Irvine General Plan.

My wife and I teach and conduct research at the University of California, Irvine, and my third-grade son attends our neighborhood school. I am invested in making our city more responsive to its residents and ending backroom deals.

Working together is the formula to fixing the issues we face. I will: honor voters by placing the location of the Veterans Cemetery at its original site on the frontline, team up with UCI’s nationally-recognized Institute of Transportation Studies to tackle traffic, implement sound policies for convenient transit and an environmentally-friendly future, fight for better city services and bring transparency and accountability to our city government.

Let’s make Irvine lead the way, and make our city one of the best places to live for generations to come.

I hope to earn your trust and your vote.

Campaign Website:

Farrah N. Khan

Nonprofit Director/Businesswoman

Farrah N. Khan

I am a local business owner, nonprofit leader, former PTA president, CERT volunteer and former city of Irvine commissioner. I am running for City Council to find commonsense solutions to the problems we face, stand up to the developers who wield too much influence over City Hall, and put the needs of Irvine’s residents first.

As your City Council member, I will fight to:

  • Demand smart and balanced growth, while working to reduce traffic.
  • Limit the influence of developers and special interests over city policies.
  • Maintain safe neighborhoods and fast emergency response times.
  • Achieve true transparency at City Hall and increase community engagement.
  • Help Irvine’s businesses succeed and create good jobs.
  • Reduce homelessness with a multi-agency approach.

I will work hard every day to protect Irvine’s unique quality of life and serve as the thoughtful, responsive and effective advocate that our residents deserve to have fighting for them at City Hall.

My campaign has been endorsed by former Irvine Mayors Beth Krom and Sukhee Kang, along with neighborhood, community and education leaders from throughout our city because they know I have the experience needed to get things done for Irvine’s unique villages. I would be honored to earn your vote.

Campaign Website:

Anthony Kuo

Irvine Commissioner/Businessman

Anthony Kuo

I’m a lifelong resident of Irvine – or at least since my parents brought me home from Hoag Hospital. I attended Irvine public schools from the day I started kindergarten at Eastshore and first grade at Alderwood, until the day I graduated from University High School.

Growing up in Irvine with remarkable public schools and safe neighborhoods inspired me to give back to our community. My past and present service to Irvine includes:

  • Irvine Commissioner
  • President, Exchange Club of Irvine
  • Irvine Children’s Fund Board of Directors
  • Irvine Valley College Foundation Board of Governors
  • Brandman University School of Business and Professional Studies Advisory Council

Professionally, I’ve worked in both the public and private sectors, so I know what it takes to enhance Irvine city government to run it like a business. Irvine must be efficient, with fiscally conservative policies.

If you elect me as your Irvine council member, I will fight to:

  • Safeguard Irvine’s quality of life
  • Preserve Irvine’s precious open space and parks for families
  • Provide complete accountability of our taxpayer dollars
  • Support Irvine’s strong public school system
  • Ensure Irvine police have the resources they need to keep Irvine America’s “Safest City of 100,000+ People”

I would be honored to have your vote to represent you on the Irvine City Council.

Campaign Website:

Mark Newgent

Retired Army Captain

In these uncertain and confusing times, we need dedicated, experienced, proven leaders with common sense on our City Council that will place the needs of the people first!

My background is 20 years U.S. Army, military police, captain, commander, anti-terrorism officer and security advisor for the Pacific Region.

Upon election my goal is to preserve and enhance Irvine’s public safety. I will work to ensure residents are protected by the finest police and firefighting forces and support policies that promote:

  • Public/child safety
  • Better traffic management
  • Fiscal responsibility/lower taxes
  • Open and honest communication with the public
  • Smart growth/development
  • Positive relationships with IUSD/TUSD for school safety/reduce overcrowding
  • Recruiting and retaining quality police/city employees
  • Avoid centralization of power/keep decision making local

The first time I deployed I was 21 years old, I threw a rifle over my shoulder and boarded a plane to go to combat in a place I never heard of for people I didn’t even know. … Just imagine how hard I will work for my community, friends and family.

I served our country for 20 years; let me serve Irvine for the next four.

Campaign Website:

Gang Chen


Gang Chen

Irvine is a good city, however, there is room for improvement. For example, Irvine’s ranking on Money Magazine’s “Best Places to Live” list dropped from No. 6 in 2012 to No. 20 in 2016. The main reasons for this are the traffic problems and housing prices.

I am a Green Ribbon Environmental Committee member for the city of Irvine. I have been a resident of Irvine for 20 years. I am a Christian, a USC alumnus, a licensed architect in California, and an expert in green buildings and sustainable development.

I would be honored to have your vote. I am running for council member of Irvine to make our city better. My campaign platform is one vision with three focuses. The vision I have for Irvine is to become a real first-class city while still maintaining its unique features of having many parks and green spaces, nice architecture and a relaxing family ranch feeling as well as being the safest city in the nation. My focuses are traffic, managed growth and education.

Irvine does not belong to just Republicans or Democrats, it belongs to all of us. Let us work together to make Irvine better.

Campaign Website:

Jaci Woods

Businesswoman / Broker / Realtor

Jaci Woods

You may have been one of the 50,000+ people who viewed my online video ( urging Irvine residents to vote “No on B” last June 5th. Measure B was a developer scheme to replace our long-planned Veterans Cemetery at the Great Park with massive development, bringing yet more traffic to Irvine streets.

Well, our grassroots “No on B” campaign won, 63% to 37%! The people of Irvine said “No” to the development scheme and “Yes” to the Veterans Cemetery at the Great Park.

This past July 10th, the City Council – on a 3-to-2 vote – refused to implement the voters’ mandate to start building the Veterans Cemetery. That’s when I decided to run for City Council, making this pledge to you: My first vote as your City Council member will be to immediately begin construction of the Veterans Cemetery on the original Great Park site, approved by the State Legislature four years ago.

I am a mother, a businesswoman and a 47-year resident of Irvine. I am a public safety volunteer and a founding member of Irvine’s Community Emergency Response Team. I have the courage to say “No” to developers and to uphold the quality of our lives.

I respectfully ask for your vote.

Campaign Website:

Liqing Lee Sun

VP / Engineer / Attorney

Liqing Lee Sun

Dear fellow residents, after years of rapid development, our city has deviated from its master plan and is at a crossroad. The current City Council is heavily influenced by historical baggage and special interests. To ensure Irvine’s bright future, we need a City Council with integrity, responsibility, diversity and transparency.

My name is Lee Sun. I graduated from USC with PhD in engineering. I also earned a JD while working full-time and am a member of the California Bar. Currently I am vice president of Research and Development at a biosciences company. My wife and I have been Irvine residents for 16 years. Three of our four children graduated from Irvine’s public schools and went to college at Harvard and UChicago. We love Irvine and actively volunteer in community organizations.

As your neighbor, my only interest in running for the City Council is a better Irvine. I will be an independent council member who will truly represent your voice and strive to achieve the following goals: (a) Maintain balanced growth; (b) Improve public safety, education and traffic; (c) Attract innovative businesses; (d) Make the City Council transparent and accountable to all residents.

Vote Sun for a brighter Irvine! Thank you for your support!

Campaign Website:

David Chey

Self-Employed / Entrepreneur

I have earned a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Southern California, and am a graduate of its Entrepreneurial Program. I am a citizen of the United States from having been born in the United States and my parents having become U.S. citizens through naturalization. My parents immigrated to the U.S. from the Republic of Korea. I have lived in Irvine since 1978.

Most residents came to live in a suburban community for economic opportunities, schools which provide education to enable students to be able to participate and contribute positively to society, and for families to raise children.

On June 5, 2018, the majority of residents voted to prevent the proposed Measure D to amend the City Charter to prohibit requiring voter approval on developments.

I am running to implement in the Municipal Code an ordinance that requires voter approval on development projects that has the same provisions of the recently passed Measure Y in Costa Mesa and other similar measures in Newport Beach and Dana Point.

I affirm the purpose of government is to serve citizens by protecting life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.

And to see the goals that I am running for to help residents achieve the American Dream, please see my website.

Campaign Website:

Frank McGill

Retired Urban Planner

Frank McGill

I am running because I am outraged that after the voter’s 63% mandate to restore the Veterans Cemetery to its original location in the Great Park and stop its replacement by massive development, the mayor and two council members voted otherwise.

If I am elected to the City Council, I will vote to immediately begin construction of the Veterans Cemetery on the originally planned, approved and financed site in the Great Park.

The current council majority is very much pro development with little regard for our quality of life and protecting the Irvine environment. I will be strongly responsive to the citizens rather than to big developers and work to serve the needs of the entire community.

I am a former Air Force pilot who flew combat missions in Vietnam. My wife and I have lived in Irvine for 42 years, raising two boys. I also served on my HOA board for eight years, and was a regional commissioner and coach for AYSO soccer. I have a master’s degree in urban planning and worked for the Orange County Planning Department for 30 years where I helped create 15 planned communities.

I respectfully ask for your vote.

Campaign Website:

John Park

Entrepreneur/Company President

John Park

A big part of who I am is who I am not.

I am not a career politician. I am not someone who can be easily influenced or manipulated. I do not toe the line for any party, special interest group or corporation.

Irvine has been our home for 19 years. We’ve always found our own ways to support the community. I’ve served as my HOA’s president and we’ve been fortunate enough to support many local charities focused on children, veterans and the less fortunate. We also support the local high school through a platinum sponsorship.

My success has been mostly attributable to my business acumen. By age 31, I held 2 VP positions at Fortune 1000 companies. Eventually, I started my own business. Currently, I am the CEO of an award-winning advertising agency in Orange County.

I am a patriot, an immigrant, a devoted son, a husband to my much better half, a dad (daddy) to 3 amazing rascals, a business leader, a fiscal conservative and a true advocate of Irvine families. I am someone who is ready to offer his passion, his commitment, his fresh independent thinking and his unparalleled work ethic to the city he loves.

Campaign Website:

Editor’s Note: These candidate statements were edited only for grammar and also appear on the Irvine City Clerk’s website.

All photos courtesy of the candidates.

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