Irvine Mayor Steven Choi headed to November state assembly election

By Tomoya Shimura, Orange County Register

Irvine Mayor Steven Choi is headed to the November general election in the race to replace termed-out Assemblyman Don Wagner, making him the favorite against a Democratic opponent in the conservative 68th Assembly District.

Choi edged former Anaheim City Councilman Harry Sidhu by 154 votes, or 0.1 percentage points, to finish second in the June 7 primary. It took the Orange County Registrar of Voters office nearly three weeks to count and certify the results because of an unprecedented number of last-minute mail-in ballots.

Lone Democrat Sean Jay Panahi finished first, receiving 33 percent of the votes. Voters could cast votes for any candidate regardless of party affiliation in the primary. The race featured seven candidates, including five Republicans and one with no party preference.

The top two vote-getters – Panahi and Choi – will face off in the Nov. 8 general election.

Choi said he is “99 percent” confident he will win the general election based on the district’s voting history.

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CNN MONEY: Irvine Named Among 15 Best Places to Live

City ranks as top California location in CNN’s Money magazine survey of the U.S.

By Deepa Bharath

IRVINE – Sue Snyder has lived in Irvine 39 years. She is glad she picked this city over others because she enjoys the closeness with neighbors.

“I live on Mariposa Street, the best street in the county,” she said. “We have block parties. We have this sense of neighborhood and community that I think is very, very special.”

On Monday, CNN’s Money Magazine announced it’s top 50 Best Places to Live 2014, and Irvine was the top California city on that list at number 14. No other Southern California city was to be seen on the list. The two other California cities that made it were two cities in the San Francisco Bay Area – Milpitas at 29 and Pleasanton at 31.

This is the third time in the nine years the magazine has compiled the list that Irvine has landed in the top 15. In 2008, Irvine ranked fourth, the first time an Orange County city was included. In 2012, Irvine ranked sixth. Last year, although Irvine did not make the top 50, La Palma was ranked 31st. This year, McKinney, Texas, was ranked number 1.

The Money Magazine article praises Irvine for its strong economy, “incredible schools and acres of green space.”

The magazine describes its selection of Irvine as one of the top cities with the following explanation: “One of the largest master-planned communities in the country, the city is organized around 24 ‘villages’ complete with parks, pools and shopping centers. While Irvine has historically lacked a central spot for locals to gather, that’s beginning to change. Now, residents are congregating at the 1,300-acre Orange County Great Park, home to gardens, a weekly farmers market, and arts complex, or the Irvine Spectrum which is being transformed from a shopping center to a walkable complex of apartments, outdoor restaurants, specialty shops and entertainment.”

The only downsides to Irvine, the magazine says, are the high home prices (median home price of $650,000) and the brutal rush hour traffic.

Mayor Steven Choi said it’s an honor for Irvine to be repeatedly named as one of the best places to live in the nation.

“This selection reinforces and validates our belief that Irvine is a great place to live,” Choi said. “Among our top attractions are our safe streets, beautiful parks and trails, outstanding schools and our cultural diversity.”

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