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By Collin Breaux | Email: cbreaux@picketfencemedia.com | Twitter: @collin_breaux

Despite not campaigning during a portion of the election season, San Juan Capistrano City Council District 5 candidate Howard Hart came out ahead in the early election results.

As of Wednesday morning, Nov. 4, Hart had received 65.37% (2,888) of the votes, compared to rival candidate John Alpay’s 34.63% (1,530). A representative from Hart’s campaign said they were “very happy” with the results.

“I would like to thank my neighbors for entrusting me to represent their interests on the city council,” Hart said. “I would especially like to acknowledge the hundreds of people who supported me through hosting and attending meet-and-greets, donating monetarily, allowing me to use their name as an endorsement, walking neighborhoods, and making phone calls.”

Howard Hart has taken a commanding lead in the District 5 race for San Juan Capistrano City Council. Photo: Courtesy of Howard Hart’s campaign.

Alpay congratulated Hart on the victory in a statement on Wednesday, Nov. 4.

“At the same time, I hope he achieves his goals and objectives in the performance of his duties as our next councilman because his success is our success,” Alpay said.   

The race was marked by controversy after Alpay made an initial allegation on Sept. 27 that Hart, a federal employee with the Department of Homeland Security, had violated the Hatch Act because he was running in a partisan election. Alpay alleged the election was partisan because he received endorsements from the Libertarian Party of California and Orange County.

Hart temporarily ceased campaigning following the allegations, but he resumed campaigning days before the election after Alpay lost both endorsements. Alpay subsequently filed a second Hatch Act complaint on Oct. 29. Alpay filed both complaints with the Office of Special Counsel, which gave Hart the go-ahead to resume campaigning following the Libertarian Party pulling their endorsements of Alpay.

District 5 candidate John Alpay has received significantly less votes than rival candidate Howard Hart. Photo: File

Hart has emphasized keeping San Juan’s equestrian heritage, building the town’s skatepark, mandating a 1,000-foot buffer between unlicensed recovery homes and stopping human trafficking in illicit massage parlors.

The District 5 seat is currently held by Brian Maryott, who faced off against incumbent Rep. Mike Levin in the 49th Congressional District race. Levin was relected.

Hart will be sworn in at the Dec. 7 council meeting, pending election result certification by the Orange County Registrar of Voters.

Campaign signs for City Council candidates Howard Hart and John Alpay have been displayed in San Juan Capistrano during the election. Photo: Collin Breaux

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