Corona del Mar Residents Assn. hosts virtual Newport Beach City Council candidates forum

Moderator Alex Crawford introduces the four candidates.
Moderator Alex Crawford, center top without a tie, introduces the four candidates debating on issues that affect Newport Beach residents during the Corona del Mar Residents Assn. candidates forum on Wednesday.
(Screenshot by Lilly Nguyen)

Moderators Alex Crawford and Riley Hayes kicked off the Corona del Mar Residents’ Assn.'s candidates forum with the burning question that residents had been waiting for — what was every candidate’s favorite place to eat in Corona del Mar?

The answers? District 2 candidate and small business owner Nancy Scarbrough said Quiet Woman. District 5 candidate and restaurateur Noah Blom said it had to be Rothschild’s, at least partly because of family tradition. Incumbents Brad Avery and Jeff Herdman said their favorites were Bandera and the Bungalow.

Word to the wise? Herdman said he never passes up the butter cake.

This is the fourth Newport Beach City Council candidates forum held by local organizations, with the first held by the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 20.

For 90 minutes, candidates were asked questions by Crawford and Hayes of Good Morning Newport, an online political show that focuses on city issues. The questions included anything from what was the last thing the candidates checked out from the Newport Beach public library — everyone reluctantly admitted they hadn’t in years — to more serious discussions in the city such as the COVID-19 pandemic and plans from candidates on how to respond in the event of a second wave occurring in Orange County.

The West Newport Beach Assn. held its forum on Wednesday night, making it the third on Newport Beach’s City Council elections for this year’s candidates.

The Orange County Health Care Agency reported Thursday that there have been a total of 1,129 cases and 25 deaths related to the coronavirus in Newport Beach.

Incumbent Brad Avery answers a question.
Incumbent Brad Avery, lower left, answers a question from moderators Riley Hayes and Alex Crawford, center, at the Corona del Mar Residents Assn. candidates’ forum on Wednesday.
(Screenshot by Lilly Nguyen)

All five candidates were in attendance, but only current Mayor Will O’Neill did not participate as he is running unopposed in his district.

Newport Beach council members represent districts, but are voted in at-large. Councilwoman Joy Brenner represents District 6, which includes the estimated 11,909 residents in Corona del Mar.

Seats are open on the City Council for District 2, which includes Newport Heights/Cliffhaven and West Newport, and District 5, which includes Balboa Island. O’Neill is running for reelection for District 7, which includes Newport Coast.

The forum itself was split into three sections, with the first round focused on introductory questions. The second round of questions included inquiries about candidates’ experience in local community organizations, fire mitigation, homelessness, the regional housing needs assessment numbers and questions specific to Corona del Mar such as one-way streets, resident parking and traffic.

The third round, so dubbed the “lightning round,” asked candidates to hold up signs indicating “yes” or “no” for their opinions on rapid-fire topics. Some questions required elaboration of answers.

Questions for the lightning round included regulation of sidewalks from bikes and e-bikes, view preservation, creation of a traffic commission, adding a beer garden to the Corona del Mar Christmas Walk, changes to the city’s campaign financing laws and whether or not the city is doing enough to respond to sea level rise.

Newport Beach City Council candidates answer a question.
Newport Beach City Council candidates answer a question in the “lightning round” during the Corona del Mar Residents Assn. candidates’ forum on Wednesday.
(Screenshot by Lilly Nguyen)

The forum closed on a brief debate on Measure Z, which will be on the ballot this Nov. 3. The measure, if approved, would amend the city’s charter and establish the Harbor Commission as a city-appointed board and commission.

O’Neill spoke in support of the measure, asking readers to read the direct language, while local government watchdog Jim Mosher argued against it, describing the measure as “poorly written and unnecessary.” Other candidates were also asked to weigh in on whether or not they were in support of Measure Z during the lightning round.

Readers can watch the forum at Crawford and Hayes also said that Good Morning Newport’s Instagram page (@goodmorningnewport) would have clips.

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