City Council race underway with first candidates’ forum in Newport Beach

Eight candidates are running for Newport Beach City Council.
Eight candidates are running for Newport Beach City Council this November. From left is Robyn Grant, Erik Weigand, Amy Peters, Jim Mosher, Lauren Kleiman, Joy Brenner, Joe Stapleton and Tom Miller.
(Daily Pilot)

With the papers filed and the candidates qualified, campaign season is now in full swing in Newport Beach.

A candidates’ forum was held by the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce earlier this month. It was moderated by Lucy Dunn, former chief executive officer for the Orange County Business Council, and was divided into four parts. Each candidate was given two minutes to deliver an opening statement and why they were running for City Council.

The forum closed with statements from each of the eight candidates: Joe Stapleton, Tom Miller, incumbent Joy Brenner, Lauren Kleiman, Jim Mosher, Amy Peters, Erik Weigand and Robyn Grant.

In his introductory remarks, Miller described himself as not a politician but as an “independent voice.” Miller acknowledged that he did not spend time on city boards and commissions, having been occupied with his business, Dynamic Auto Images, which he sold last year.

“The knowledge, experience and wisdom I gained and the leadership skills I gained in those 36 years is what I feel equips me to represent you on City Council,” said Miller.

Moderator Lucy Dunn reads out questions.
Moderator Lucy Dunn reads out questions to the candidates to answer at the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce’s candidates’ forum.
(Daily Pilot)

Stapleton, who is also running for District 1, which represents the Balboa Peninsula and West Newport, touched on his own public service at the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Harbor Commission and the Finance Committee.

“I tell you all of this because experience matters and especially in an election like this,” Stapleton said.

Stapleton described himself as an independent thinker and said he was not running a platform about “rebuilding Newport Beach,” but on maintaining the quality of life that residents have come to expect in the city and to “keep Newport Newport.”

Mosher, a longtime community watchdog, said he’s been attending City Council meetings for over a decade. He added he felt it was “slightly wrong having to do that for I strongly believe that everyone in Newport Beach should be able to trust those we elect to be doing that questioning for us and to be doing it well.”

Mosher said he felt thoughtful council oversight was lacking, whether it was about things as large as measure approval or as small as trash charges and that he was running for office to take on that work.

Candidates answer a question.
Candidates answer a question about the proposed abortion ban in San Clemente and whether or not council members should be allowed to use their positions to advance causes or issues outside of the city’s control.
(Daily Pilot)

Peters said she’s lived in Newport Beach since 1979, where she’s since married and raised her children. Peters said homelessness is one of her leading concerns and that she wants to continue strong public policies and support the community.

“We need to keep Newport Newport and not be funded by outside organizations that want to change the look of Newport Beach,” Peters said. “I want my kids to want to come back here and raise their grandchildren here ... it’s just such a beautiful city and I want to maintain that.”

Weigand, a planning commissioner, said he’s a lifelong resident of the city and felt that serving on the City Council would be a way for him to give back to the community that raised him. His biggest campaign issues are housing, public safety, sober living homes, quality of life and homelessness.

Grant is running unopposed in her district and said she cares deeply about the city and wants to be a part of keeping Newport Beach the “best place to live, work and raise a family.”

She said her No. 1 goal was to be available to residents.

Councilwoman Joy Brenner was elected in 2018 and is running for reelection in District 6, which represents Corona del Mar.

“The issues that we deal with are critically important. Being involved for 60 years, I thought I knew a lot when I got elected to council but the last four years have been eye-opening because everything is more complex than you realize,” said Brenner.

Kleiman, chair of the Planning Commission, said she has been investing in Newport Beach since her son was born and was a founding member of the Newport Beach Foundation. She said she prioritizes public safety and giving support to local police.

The lightning round, a series of yes or no questions, focused on whether or not prospective council members would support electric bike regulations, extending the peninsula boardwalk to the Santa Ana River jetty and if they’d support changing the currently at-large system of electing to a district-only format.

Candidates were also asked if they felt the city’s overall response to the pandemic was appropriate and if they believed the City Council’s action to limit short-term lodging permits was appropriate. They were also asked their opinions on town hall meetings or if they believed rising sea levels would be a threat to low-lying areas throughout Newport.

Long-form questions focused on the expansion of John Wayne Airport, group homes, homelessness, crime, housing, staff union contracts and retention. Grant did not respond to any questions, as she is running unopposed in her district.

Members of the City Council represent districts but are voted in at-large. The next candidates’ forum will be hosted by Friends of the OASIS Senior Center on Sept. 2. The election is Nov. 8.

Readers can watch the entire Aug. 18 forum at

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