Vice Mayor Tammy Kim Announces Candidacy For Irvine Mayor

By:Matthew Cunningham

Irvine Vice Mayor Tammy Kim, 52, has announced her intention to run for mayor of Irvine in 2024, at the same time unveiling a list of endorsements from prominent Democrats.

“I love Irvine, and I’m running for Mayor because I want to protect our reputation as a global city focused on innovation, opportunity, equity, and sustainability,” said Kim in a statement. “As Mayor, I’ll fight to enhance public safety, build necessary housing, promote economic development, and work with urgency to address climate change.”

Current Mayor Farrah Khan is prevented by term limits from seeking re-election in 2024.

Veteran Councilman Larry Agran, also a Democrat, has declared his intention to run in 2024 for mayor. The 78-year old Agran has served three previous stints as Irvine mayor: from 1982 to 1984; from 1986 to 1990; and from 2000 to 2004.

Kim also noted the recent political scandal enveloping city hall, in which prominent Democrat consultant and lobbyist Melahat Rafiei plead guilty to a scheme to bribe two councilmembers in 2018 to introduce a cannabis ordinance benefitting a cannabis client of Rafiei’s (no such ordinance was ever introduced).

The scheme involved Rafiei contracting with the two councilmembers to perform “legal services” and then funneling $220,000 in bribes via those agreements, shielded from disclosure by legal privilege.

One of those councilmembers, attorney Melissa Fox, has stated no bribe was ever received and that she has been fully cooperating with the FBI. Another attorney who was a member of the Irvine City Council in 2018, has not responded to media requests for comments.

Now-Supervisor Don Wagner was Irvine mayor at the time, but has categorically stated he has no knowledge of any such scheme.

“There are serious divisions in our city right now, which have been magnified by the revelations of a bribery scheme and FBI investigation. I believe I am the candidate best qualified to bring people together and implement meaningful reforms to ensure transparency and accountability,” said Kim in her statement.

Kim was first elected to the city council in 2020, and was the top voter-getter in field of 14 candidates, winning 14.81% of the vote. She serves on a variety of regional boards, including the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), Orange County Council of Governments (OCCOG), Irvine Community Land Trust, Orange County Public Libraries, Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control, League of California Cities, Orange County Division Board of Directors, the Orange County Power Authority’s Cities Advisory Committee, and the Orange County Fire Authority.

Kim threw her hat in the ring last December for a spot on the Orange County Transportation Authority Board of Directors, but was out-maneuvered by Mayor Khan, prompting a bitter outburst by Kim against Khan during the City Selection Committee meetings where the OCTA Board appointments were made.

READ: Irvine-Related Fireworks At Otherwise Calm OCTA Board of Directors Elections

Kim’s campaign released the following list of endorsers:

  • Congresswoman Judy Chu
  • Congressman Andy Kim
  • Congresswoman Grace Meng
  • California State Treasurer John Chiang (Ret.)
  • State Senator Dave Min
  • State Assemblymember Mike Fong
  • State Assemblymember Cottie Petrie Norris
  • State Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva
  • Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley
  • Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang (Ret.)
  • Irvine Councilmember Kathleen Treseder
  • Fullerton Mayor Fred Jung
  • Santa Ana Mayor Valarie Amezcua
  • Buena Park Councilmember Joyce Ahn
  • Garden Grove Councilmember Kim Nguyen
  • Los Angeles Councilmember John Lee
  • Rancho Palos Verdes Councilmember Paul Seo


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