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Shelley Henderson wants to join Team Newport

I finally spoke with Newport Beach City Council candidate Shelley Henderson, who plans to run against incumbent Councilman Tony Petros.

Last week I reported what little I could find on social media about Henderson.

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Our conversation this week was interesting, but I didn't get a sense of where Henderson stands on the issues, meaning she wouldn't talk about any, saying there would be plenty of time in the coming months to discuss them.

She was willing to talk about her background.

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Born in Philadelphia, her family moved to L.A. when she was 11.

She's been in O.C. since 2012, and renting in Newport since 2014.

She expects to graduate in May from Trinity Law School in Santa Ana, focusing on constitutional law. She chose Trinity because it's faith-based.

Henderson calls Newport Councilman Scott Peotter her "mentor" and looks forward to joining Team Newport, if elected.

She met Peotter in 2015 at a Unite OC Candidate Bootcamp — a training program supported by the Newport/Mesa Tea Party and the OCGOP in Stanton.

She doesn't feel her short time living in Newport is a campaign issue.

"If you haven't lived here all your life that doesn't mean you don't add value to the conversation and offer a new perspective," she says.

Henderson is challenging Petros, who has lived in O.C. all his life, mainly because last time, "Tony ran unopposed."

"The system works well when you have a debate and different perspectives," she says.

Does she take exception to Petros' policymaking on council?

She says no, adding that she's never met or spoken to him.

"I don't have anything negative to say about him," she says.

Why does her candidate intention statement not list her address? She lists the address for Political Reporting Plus in Inglewood.

Henderson says she didn't fill out the form. Representatives from Political Reporting Plus, her campaign treasurers, did.

Though candidates usually list their residence, it's not required, according to Newport City Clerk Leilani I. Brown.

Henderson will have to supply an address during the nomination period, July 18 to Aug. 12, so Brown can verify her voter registration.

Henderson feels she has the experience for City Council.

"My political career spans 20 years, starting as an intern for Republican Ohio Congressman JC Watts's Jr.," she tells me.

Watts eventually hired Henderson, who worked for him for five years.

She volunteered for the Republican National Convention, helping George W. Bush get elected president, and will be at the RNC this summer in Cleveland too.

Henderson served as director of outreach education for faith-based communities under Bush and also worked for Karl Rove, Bush's deputy chief of staff, in the executive office of the president as public relations liaison. She dealt with strategies related to African American and faith-based groups.

Henderson became an ordained minister and organized the First Ladies Summit and prayer breakfast. Wives of African American pastors are referred to as "first ladies," she explains.

Henderson says she's excited to run for council and is aware her candidacy breaks new ground.

"I am the first black woman to run for City Council, and I am a black Republican, so I've been a minority, and I am not uncomfortable speaking about race," she says.

In addition to being a minister and budding lawyer, Henderson is a political consultant and has her own health-and-wellness business.

So why is she considering political consultant Dave Ellis, who ran the conservative Team Newport slate, to run her campaign, when she's a consultant herself?

"I would be foolish to do this on my own when there are people like Dave Ellis," she adds.

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Howling good dog beach update

Kudos to Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel, who on April 26 will bring the Board of Supervisors a resolution that, if approved, will end the controversy surrounding off-leash dogs at the "unofficial dog beach" adjacent to Newport.

Steel's office shared her resolution with me this week. She plans to hold a press conference featuring her announcement on the beach at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

The resolution would modify the current County Ordinances Sections 4-1-45 and 4-1-46, so that "the property within the unincorporated area of the County of Orange, downstream from Pacific Coast Highway at the outlet of the Santa Ana River, is designated as an area on a public beach where a dog in the charge of a person competent to exercise care, custody, and control over such dog is permitted without restraint."

It also says, "Nothing in this resolution is to be interpreted as restricting the ability of the Orange County Flood Control District to carry out dredging of sand or other flood control activities within said property."

This would essentially codify something that's been taking place for years.

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at bvontv1@gmail.com. Listen to her weekly radio segment on "Sunday Brunch with Tom and Lynn" from 11 a.m. to noon on KOCI/101.5 FM.

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