Noah Blom named mayor, Will O'Neill as mayor pro tem for upcoming year in Newport Beach
Outgoing Newport Beach City Council members gave teary goodbyes to colleagues, staff and city residents as they stepped down Tuesday during the council’s annual reorganization, making room for the newest class of council members fresh off the heels of this year’s midterm elections.
New council members Joe Stapleton, Erik Weigand, Robyn Grant and Lauren Kleiman were sworn into office on Tuesday and, in a unanimous vote, Noah Blom and Will O'Neill were named the mayor and mayor pro tem, respectively, for the coming year.
Outgoing Councilman Marshall “Duffy” Duffield, who was first elected in 2014 and was mayor in 2018, thanked his family members for their support over the past eight years.
“The vote in the kitchen when I said, ‘Should I [run for office]?’ was steadfastly ‘no’ all across the board. Every one of them said ‘no,’ and I wanted to say ‘no,’ but others were pretty convincing,” Duffield recalled. “It hasn’t been easy. Politics can be brutal, but [my wife] Terry persevered through all of the bad things they said about us, me, and so for that I’m very grateful. I promise: I’ll never do this again.”
Stepping down from the council along with Duffield were Joy Brenner and Kevin Muldoon, who most recently served as mayor. Diane Dixon left the dais in November to assume her new role as assemblywoman for the 72nd state Assembly District.
Brenner, who was elected in 2018, said tearfully she was thankful to have been elected and that it was a privilege to have served the city she’s lived in for the last 60 years. She joked meetings have been efficient and fast under Muldoon’s guidance, describing them as the “shortest that I can ever remember.”
“I felt like I failed because I didn’t get all the problems solved that I wanted to get solved during my term and many people have told me that I have inspired them to run for public office in the future, especially young people,” Brenner said. “That really has meant more than anything to me. I got to the point where, ‘OK. My purpose was not to solve all of these problems; my purpose perhaps was just to inspire one or two other people to do this job with dignity and respect for their fellow council members and respect for all of the citizens and to do it in a way that benefits the greater community and not just ourselves.”
Muldoon reflected those same sentiments, describing his time on the dais as the opportunity of a lifetime and highlighted the council’s accomplishments with property rights, pension liabilities, public safety and homelessness.
“I believe history will continue to treat advocates for freedom with honor and show contempt for tyrants that have made the lives of their citizens difficult, of course imposing rules and mandates that they themselves do not follow,” said Muldoon, before thanking fellow council members, city staff and his family for their support.
Blom was first elected in 2020 and O'Neill was reelected that same year and is currently serving his second term. O'Neill served as mayor in 2020.
“The one thread that connected all of these speeches together is passion. I think every single person that chooses and decides to sit up here has passion for this city and passion in a way that affects different parts in different ways that we all live here, and I think that is the idea of what a council ... is about,” Blom said.
“We sit up here to converse and make the best decisions we can from different perspectives and different views,” he continued. “I am so proud of the people that have come before us and I’ve learned so much from Duffy ... from Councilman O'Neill ... Councilman Avery ... and all of our new colleagues. I think they bring a new perspective and a new sense of [how] we can continue to make Newport what it is.”
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