As the race for California’s Assembly District 72 heats up, with primaries approaching June 7, many wonder how the three candidates for the seat compare, and who will fight best for Orange County’s values in Sacramento.
The 72nd district, which was recently redrawn, includes Aliso Viejo, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Newport Beach, and Seal Beach.
Diane Dixon is a current city councilwoman from Newport Beach, when she was elected in 2014 and has served as mayor in both 2016 and 2019.
A Republican, Dixon raised an impressive $1 million+ in her previous bid for Assembly in 2020, coming just a fraction of a percent lower than her opponent in the general election, receiving more than 131,000 votes.
The councilwoman prides herself on her work for fiscal responsibility and government transparency during her time at city hall; she has helped deliver budget surpluses, pay down pension liabilities, improve public safety, and complete infrastructure projects on time and within budget, her campaign website notes.
Dixon is also the only endorsed candidate for the seat by the Lincoln Club of Orange County, California’s largest conservative donor network.
In addition, Dixon has engaged city residents by holding more than 30 town hall meetings, has worked closely with residents and business owners to solve community issues, and also spent 40 years in the business world prior to her adventure into politics.
Judi Mancuso is a Laguna Beach-based non-profit CEO and animal rights activist.
A Democrat, Mancuso was named within the top 10 of the top 100 most influential people in Orange County in 2019, and also became the Vice Chair of the Laguna Beach Environmental Sustainability Committee in 2021. In addition, she was appointed by Speaker of the State Assembly to the California Veterinary Medical Board in July 2010, where she went on to serve for 8 years.
Mancuso is likely best known for her animal rights efforts through her non-profit company Social Compassion in Legislation, where she has helped pass 20 animal protection laws in the state of California, which range from mandatory animal microchipping in shelters to banning owners from leaving their animals in a hot car. Many of these laws later went on to be recreated across the United States.
If elected, Mancuso said she plans to fight climate change, expand access to healthcare, improve public safety, address homelessness, and protect women’s rights, according to her campaign website.
In addition, she recently won the pre-endorsement of the California Democratic Party.
Benjamin Yu is a Lake Forest based Army veteran, business man, and community activist.
A Republican, he serves on the boards of several organizations, and chairs the Lake Forest traffic commission.
Yu moved to New York City as a teenager, where he prides himself on having worked various jobs to support his family at the time. While he says he is living out his American Dream, Yu thinks there is a lot that has been changed to make California worse for the common man, such as high taxes, unaffordable housing, and skyrocketing inflation, which he wants to change.