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Will O’Neill takes Newport Beach mayor’s seat

Newport council 2020
The Newport Beach City Council is now led by new Mayor Will O’Neill, center, and Mayor Pro Tem Brad Avery, third from left.
(Hillary Davis)

Will O’Neill has been promoted to mayor of Newport Beach, assuming his new role Tuesday night alongside new Mayor Pro Tem Brad Avery after a unanimous City Council vote.

O’Neill had been mayor pro tem, the council’s second-in-command, the past two years, most recently behind 2019 Mayor Diane Dixon.

He said his broad goals for his year-long term as mayor are maintaining and improving fundamentals including public safety, infrastructure, parks and continued paydown of the city’s pension liability, and addressing external forces and controls on issues such as housing, homelessness, dredging and airport noise.

“And third — something we’re going to have a lot of fun with — we will celebrate people and groups that give of their time and talents for the betterment of our city,” he said.

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As examples he listed women at the Oasis Senior Center who call homebound senior citizens so they have someone to talk to, retirees in the Newport Harbor Exchange Club who teach civics, and the Newport Beach Foundation’s local leadership development program.

He challenged each of his six colleagues to come up with five people or groups to honor at council meetings for “the year of the volunteer.”

“Our city runs on good intentions and actions and it’s as good a time as any to celebrate those great achievements,” O’Neill said.

Will O’Neill and supporters
Will O’Neill, center, the new mayor of Newport Beach, is surrounded by supporters during Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.
(Hillary Davis)

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Dixon, completing her second term as mayor following a previous stint in 2016, thanked city staff and commissions for their work and praised the city’s fiscal management, capital projects and amenities and public safety departments. She also thanked community members who regularly offer feedback.

“My one top-line goal was to restore civility and collegiality among our council and I’m pleased to tell you that your council is high-functioning, hard-working, respectful of each other and committed to achieving what’s best for Newport Beach and its residents,” Dixon said.

O’Neill and Avery were elected to the council in 2016 and are seeking reelection next year. Dixon was first elected in 2014 and is currently running for state Assembly.

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