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Election 2022: Meet the candidates running for Newport Beach City Council

Eight candidates are running for open seats on the Newport Beach City Council this November.
Eight candidates are running for open seats on the Newport Beach City Council this November. The races are in four total districts and only one of them is uncontested.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)
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Less than a month remains before Newport Beach voters will decide which four of the eight candidates running for the City Council will have a seat at the dais.

Three sitting council members will be terming out this fall, leaving Councilwoman Joy Brenner as the lone incumbent running this election.

While council members are elected by district, they are voted in at-large. Data from the Orange County Registrar of Voters’ office reports there are 60,812 registered voters in Newport Beach. The last day to register to vote in California is Oct. 24.

The Daily Pilot sent a questionnaire to all City Council candidates on the ballot to get an overview on their experience, why they are running and what they feel are the biggest issues affecting Newport Beach.

We are presenting their responses by district and by alphabetical order by last name. Some responses have been edited for formatting, brevity or clarity.

District 1

The Balboa Peninsula and West Newport Beach

Tom Miller

Tom Miller
Tom Miller, of Newport Beach, poses for a picture on the Newport Beach pier.
(James Carbone)

Age: 59
Professional Occupation: Retired business owner
Education: 3 years of college
Time lived in Newport Beach: 7 years
Public service, activism and volunteerism: Crosspointe Church, sponsored several nonprofit events, volunteered at community events

Name the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and why:

  1. Public Safety: I have knocked on over 3,000 doors to date and the No. 1 issue shared with me is public safety and lack of enforcement. We are a huge target here and gangs from South America have been infiltrating our community. I’ve met with several residents who shared terrifying stories of home invasions while they were still in the home and having to confront these criminals face to face. Many of us believe our incredible police department needs more officers. We MUST keep Los Angeles out of Newport Beach. Their catch and release program with their D.A. is destroying L.A. and we simply can’t allow their criminals to trickle down to our community.
  2. Homelessness: this is also linked to public safety. I have a neighbor who showed me a photo of a homeless man entering through their front window. I spent five hours at our bridge homeless shelter we share with Costa Mesa. Nate and John are co-directors of this facility and the three of us were able to share some incredible ideas on how we can all work together on improving this crisis. I learned a lot about how the shelter works and was fortunate to spend time interviewing some of our homeless, giving me a better understanding of coming up with solutions, including more church involvement at the “small group” level.
  3. Beaches, parks, and our harbor: we need to protect and preserve these billion-dollar assets to our city. We are currently having serious sand erosion along our beaches, especially at the Wedge. A sand improvement project was recently launched; however, it will take two to three years before it makes its way down from Seal Beach to Newport Beach. We have a serious need to dredge our harbor and our city is waiting on Coastal Commission permit approval.

Joseph Stapleton

Joseph "Joe" Stapleton
Joseph “Joe” Stapleton is running for a seat on the Newport Beach City Council. He is running against candidate Tom Miller for District 1.
(Courtesy of Stapleton for Newport)

Age: 38
Professional Occupation: President of Spinnaker Investment Group
Education: University of Arizona, finance and entrepreneurship
Time lived in Newport Beach: 16 years
Public service, activism and volunteerism: 2020 Newport Beach Citizen of the Year, Newport Beach Finance Committee, Newport Beach Harbor Commission, Newport Beach Charter Update Committee, Newport Beach Foundation, Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce

Name the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and why:

  1. California’s homelessness issues exploded in the past few years. Downtown Los Angeles is nearly uninhabitable with tents lining the streets. I am committed to ensuring that Newport Beach does not resemble some of the cities around us. We are an incredibly charitable city and we know there is no compassion in allowing people to live on the streets. I will work for regional solutions for alternate housing to reduce our homeless population and will not tolerate tent cities in Newport Beach.
  2. Newport Beach is an undeniably safe city because of our investments in public safety. However, we live in a region where crime is increasing all around us. Even before we compare ourselves to other cities that don’t see 8 to 10 million people vacation here, we can be proud that arrests have increased and crime has decreased every year for the past five years. This year, though, we’re seeing increases in property crimes like burglaries. I am the only candidate in District 1 to have the endorsement of our Newport Beach Police Officers Assn. because they know I share their vision for fully funding the department to ensure that Newport Beach residents feel safe in our neighborhoods.
  3. The jewel of our city is and will always be our Harbor. Newport Beach is defined by the Beeks’ ferry, Duffy boat cruising, dock-side dining, the Balboa Pavilion and other iconic venues unique to our community. We remain devoted to its water quality and upkeep so that we can all enjoy it for decades to come. We must also continue to maintain and upgrade our 65-plus parks throughout our city. While on the Newport Beach Finance Committee, I have supported the recent effort to survey every city park and then set aside a million dollars to complete work identified in that study.

District 3

Upper Newport Bay

Jim Mosher

Jim Mosher
Jim Mosher is a community watchdog. Mosher is a District 3 candidate for a seat on the Newport Beach City Council.
(Courtesy of Jim Mosher for Council)

Age: 74
Professional Occupation: Retired scientist
Education: California Institute of Technology, physics
Time lived in Newport Beach: 42 years
Public service, activism and volunteerism: Community watchdog, Still Protecting Our Newport, advocated against Measure B, Measure V (2010), Measure EE (2012) and Measure Y (2014)

Name the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and why:

  1. The most troubling issue immediately facing Newport Beach is satisfying the state that we are complying with their recent mandate to plan to add 4,845 new housing units in the next eight years, including 2,386 affordable to low and very low income families. While others are focused on where and how those units could be built, my concern is that voter rejection of the final plan could lead to invalidation of our citizens’ hard-won right to approve major development proposals via our 2000 Greenlight initiative. How the Greenlight aspect should be handled needs serious debate.
  2. The two most serious long-term threats I see to the city are airport impacts and sea level rise. Both have the potential to make substantial areas unlivable. Controlling the former requires constant vigilance, within which my education makes me especially qualified to understand and question noise issues. Coping with the latter requires adopting an attitude of cooperation rather than confrontation with the California Coastal Commission, for they will ultimately have to approve any strategies the city may wish to adopt.
  3. The issue overarching all other issues is the need to return control of city policy making from the staff to the people. Examples of staff, rather than the people’s council, controlling policy making are replete. In recent times, these include a lobbyist registration system adopted with fanfare, then totally ignored; trash fees imposed through a staff interpretation of voter-enacted legislation prohibiting them; a Museum House clone recommended for approval on land voters approved only for a hotel (and which staff would not let me appeal from the Planning Commission to the council); and most recently, council direction for staff to revise the definition of “timeshare” to prohibit the new phenomenon of fractional homeownership turning into a staff recommendation to legalize it.

Amy Peters

Amy Peters
Amy Peters, a resident of District 3, is seeking a seat on the Newport Beach City Council.
(Courtesy of Amy Peters for Newport)

Age: Declined to answer
Professional Occupation: Business Owner
Education: Orange Coast College, early child education; UC Irvine, English literature and minored criminal justice
Time lived in Newport Beach: 40 years
Public service, activism and volunteerism: AYSO Soccer, Kaiser Woodland Schools Foundation, church board president, supporter of reopening schools and maintaining size of John Wayne Airport, advocate for cleaner and quieter aircraft

Name the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and why:

  1. Public safety is a major concern of residents and business owners with the recent smash and grab at Neiman Marcus in Fashion Island and the suspect who is alleged to have car-jacked two people, which originated near Fashion Island and ended in a 6-hour-long search for him in the Dover Shores neighborhood.
  2. The increase in homelessness which by some estimates is 50% higher than surrounding cities.
  3. Transparent decision making at the Newport Beach City Hall and City Council level where residents are able to participate and have a say in how our tax dollars are spent.

Erik Weigand

Erik Weigand
Erik Weigand is running in District 3 for a seat on the Newport Beach City Council. The district includes the neighborhoods surrounding Upper Newport Bay.
(Courtesy of Erik Weigand for Newport Beach City Council)

Age: 43
Professional Occupation: District director for state Sen. Patricia Bates, businessman
Education: Chapman University, criminal justice
Time lived in Newport Beach: Lifelong resident
Public service, activism and volunteerism: Newport Beach Planning Commission, Sons of the American Legion Post 291, Republican Party of Orange County, Mariners Elementary Foundation, Newport Beach Police Foundation

Name the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and why:

  1. Crime: Soft on crime policies from Sacramento increasingly bring crime right to our doorstep. We must ensure that our police department is funded and provide every tool necessary, so our officers can do their job. One neighborhood funded license plate readers to monitor criminals coming and going. This practice can be implemented citywide. More visibility and proactive enforcement can reduce and deter crime. Recruitment and retainment needs to be prioritized. We cannot afford to have less officers on patrol.
  2. Sober-living homes: Having years of expertise working on this complicated issue, I have partnered with Advocates for Responsible Treatment to develop a comprehensive 10-point plan that places our city’s residents first and works to reduce the incentives that lead to the proliferation of transient lodging operations. Several components of this plan include a 1,000 foot separation of licensed treatment and non licensed sober living homes; annual notifications to all residential treatment businesses requiring compliance; posting of a Patient Bill Rights in every bathroom that details who to call if an operator is violating the rules; a plan for patients who wash out, so they aren’t left on our streets; and a proposal to strategically partner with our neighboring cities and combine efforts when faced with legal challenges.
  3. Quality of life: The recent mandates that require Newport Beach to plan for approximately 4,800 new housing units will stretch our resources, strain our infrastructure and increase traffic. With many of these homes planned for the airport area, we must have an appropriate master plan to protect our city’s character. Efforts to increase the length of the runway at John Wayne Airport must be stopped. I will work with the county and other regional partners to address homelessness. Those with mental illness and addiction problems must be taken off our streets and placed into effective treatment programs located in commercial areas, not residential ones.

District 4

Eastbluff and Bonita Canyon neighborhoods

Robyn Grant

Robyn Grant
Robyn Grant is running unopposed in District 4, the Eastbluff and Bonita Canyon neighborhoods. The seat she seeks is currently held by outgoing Mayor Kevin Muldoon.
(Courtesy of Robyn Grant for Newport Beach)

Age: Declined to answer
Professional Occupation: Attorney, business owner, college educator
Education: University of Southern California, UC Los Angeles
Time lived in Newport Beach: 35-plus years
Public service, activism and volunteerism: Newport Beach Civil Service Board, Newport Beach Board of Library Trustees, Newport Beach Arts Commission, Speak Up Newport, Friends of Newport Beach Animal Shelter, Leadership Tomorrow

Name the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and why:

  1. Foremost is conservative fiscal management of the city’s quarter billion-dollar budget, thereby providing a high level of services and infrastructure to meet the needs of our residents including public safety, reducing homelessness, and local control to maintain the residential character of our communities. Public safety is a citywide concern and requires full police and fire department staffing with competitive resources which will allow us to hire, train, and retain the best first responders to serve our community.
  2. Real solutions for homelessness can result from regional partnerships that provide alternative housing and mental health and addiction intervention to assist people off the streets and create momentum toward independent living.
  3. Ill-conceived state zoning and land use mandates deteriorate our communities resulting in unwanted density and critical impacts on city services like water, waste management, schools, and traffic. Collaborative efforts with other municipalities are imperative to restore local control and maintain the integrity of residential villages throughout the city. In addition, the city needs to remain mindful of the effect of recent poor returns reported by CalPERS, the state pension fund, which will continue to impact the budget.

District 6

Corona del Mar

Joy Brenner

Councilwoman Joy Brenner
Councilwoman Joy Brenner is running for reelection this November.
(Courtesy of Brenner for City Council)

Age: Declined to answer
Professional Occupation: Newport Beach City Councilwoman
Education: Declined to answer; pointed to experience on council with League of California Cities, Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District, council ad hoc committees
Time lived in Newport Beach: 60 years
Public service, activism and volunteerism: Newport Beach Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission, Corona del Mar Residents Assn., Friends of Corona del Mar Library, PFO and PTA for Newport-Mesa Unified School District, advocate for OASIS Senior Center, Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce

Name the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and why:

  1. Homelessness, but much work is being done in this area. That takes time but will help enormously.
  2. Group homes, short-term lodging, fractional ownership and other state and federally mandated uses.
  3. Traffic and the John Wayne Airport are both critically important as well and require strategic working relationships with staff and elected officials at other cities and higher levels of government.

Lauren Kleiman

Lauren Kleiman
Lauren Kleiman is running for a seat on the Newport Beach City Council.
(Courtesy of Kleiman for City Council)

Age: 44
Professional Occupation: Businesswoman
Education: Pepperdine University
Time lived in Newport Beach: 10 years
Public service, activism and volunteerism: Newport Beach Planning Commission, Newport Beach Foundation, Newport Beach Aviation Committee, Airport Working Group of Orange County, homeowners’ association

Name the three issues you believe are the most important facing the city and why:

  1. Rising homelessness in Newport Beach is one of the primary reasons I am now running for City Council. At the last point in time count, the number of people experiencing homelessness in our city had increased by 50%, when neighboring Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach saw reductions of 20%, 60% and 35%, respectively. Anyone spending time in areas like McFadden Square and many of our village centers can be witness to someone shooting-up or urinating on the sidewalk. Multiple people have overdosed near the Newport Pier area. This is despite our current leadership spending millions to address the issue, which is a failure that warrants change — for these individuals, residents, business owners and visitors.
  2. Crime tourism, decriminalization of unwanted behavior and early release of felons from prison have all posed a threat to our community’s safety and security. This, combined with the burden on our law enforcement to respond to calls for service related to homelessness, creates an increasingly challenging environment for our police officers to effectively defend our city and protect our neighborhoods.
  3. The state has adopted over 80 new housing laws in the last seven years. We are already experiencing the negative impacts of sober living and supportive care homes operating in our residential neighborhoods with little ability to regulate unwanted activities. Add to this the challenge of planning for the accommodation for an unrealistic RHNA requirement and density bonus laws which threaten to overburden our infrastructure and resources. As a prior land use attorney and two-term planning commissioner, I am best qualified to help the city identify and implement defensive strategies to mitigate the impacts to our city’s charm and character.

Election Day is Nov. 8. Early voting will begin Oct. 24.

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