Results show Stapleton, Weigand and Kleiman in the lead for Newport Beach City Council

From left to right, Joe Stapleton, Erik Weigand, Robyn Grant and Lauren Kleiman.
Pictured above are the candidates leading in the Newport Beach City Council race, as of Friday night. From left to right, Joe Stapleton, Erik Weigand, Robyn Grant and Lauren Kleiman.
(File Photo)

While votes are still being tabulated, Newport Beach City Council candidates Joe Stapleton, Erik Weigand and Robyn Grant have clear paths to take seats on the dais.

And, in the hotly contested District 6, it appears Planning Commission chair Lauren Kleiman is likely to unseat incumbent Councilwoman Joy Brenner.

Brenner initially held the lead with mail-in ballots in the immediate results of Election Day with, roughly 52.7% of the votes cast in the city, but she fell behind in recent days as the Orange County Registrar of Voters’ Office added in-person votes and mail-in ballots that had been postmarked by Nov. 8.

As of Friday, Kleiman was leading in that district with 53.6% of the votes, compared to Brenner’s 46.4% — with a margin of 1,846 votes.

When reached for comment on the results, Kleiman hesitated to call the race in her favor.

An estimated 356,888 ballots remain to be counted in Orange County, according to the registrar’s office. It is unclear how many of those are from Newport Beach residents, but data reported by the office indicates about 32,900 mail-in ballots were returned citywide. There are 61,014 registered voters in the city and council members are voted in at-large.

“During my campaign, I enjoyed the opportunity to engage with voters throughout the city on the issues that matter most, with public safety being of greatest importance to our residents, as it is to me,” Kleiman said. “Should I ultimately win, I would be honored to work together, alongside the strong group of leaders that we now have on our Newport Beach City Council. Either way, I am looking forward to continuing to serve our great city, whether as City Council member or planning commissioner.”

Brenner said she wished all the votes had been counted by now so that both she and Kleiman could know how to proceed.

“Right now, I’m feeling free of the responsibility of saving our city,” Brenner said Friday. “If things change and I have to readjust my thinking, I will.”

More firm are the races in Districts 1 and 3, where candidate Joe Stapleton and Planning Commissioner Erik Weigand hold the majority of the votes in their respective races. Both led in the results Tuesday night as well.

Stapleton, Weigand and Robyn Grant, the latter of whom ran unopposed in her district, will assume the mantle in December when all newly elected or reelected council members are sworn in.

Pending final results, Brenner or Kleiman will join them.

Stapleton will be the councilman for District 1, replacing outgoing Councilwoman Diane Dixon. That district includes the Balboa Peninsula and much of West Newport. He currently holds about 63.1% of the votes against fellow candidate Tom Miller, who holds 37%.

“It was 18 months of emotions when the first results dropped. It was an overwhelming feeling of being totally humbled and appreciative of all the hard work that we [our volunteers and supporters] put in and everything,” Stapleton said. “I feel very confident where we are. Tom ran a heck of a campaign and forced me to work harder than I ever have, which is great.

“I’m excited to take that same passion and put it towards the City Council, which is the next step in my community service. I think this is more a vote about public safety and keeping Newport [the same]. If the margin holds, which we think it will, I’m going to do everything I can to serve the city of Newport Beach with everything that I have and look forward to those who maybe didn’t vote for me, to earn their support as well during my time as a councilman.”

Weigand expressed similar sentiments, adding that he’s received a number of texts and calls congratulating him in recent days.

He will be stepping into the vacancy left by outgoing Councilman Marshall “Duffy” Duffield in District 3, which includes the neighborhoods surrounding upper Newport Bay. Weigand ran against community watchdog Jim Mosher, who holds the second-most votes in the race with 27%, and candidate Amy Peters, who has received 16.4% of the votes so far counted.

“I’m just really excited to have the opportunity to serve. I’ve lived in the city my whole life, and it’s a great way to give back,” said Weigand.

Weigand said he would make good use of his connections on the local, county, state and federal level to benefit Newport Beach as best he could, describing himself as a team player and excited to work with current council members and those elected alongside him.

“I really appreciate all the support I had out in the community. I had a lot of friends at my event: family, friends, supporters, and it was nice to be surrounded by all of them. I’m enjoying the moment, but the real work and hard work begins when I get sworn in,” said Weigand.

He noted that his wife, Krista, serves on the Newport-Mesa Unified school board, which he believes will allow for greater crossover of efforts between the city and schools.

“I recognize that there was a portion of voters that didn’t vote for me, and I look forward to working for them. My door will be open as much as possible to those who might not have shared my viewpoints so that we can work and collaborate,” he added.

Grant also expressed her thanks to residents for trusting in her.

She will replace outgoing Mayor Kevin Muldoon in District 4, which includes the Eastbluff and Bonita Canyon neighborhoods. She thanked her supporters, adding her No. 1 priority would be to hold herself accountable to residents and provide transparent and independent leadership.

“Ours is an exceptional city. Great cities don’t just happen. They are built by strong leaders with vision and determination. Newport Beach has a legacy of that kind of leadership, and I will continue that legacy,” said Grant in a statement. “I look forward to the next four years serving on the City Council and being a part of the real progress to be made in keeping our community the best place to live, work, visit and raise a family.”

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