Newport Beach’s new mayor Will O’Neill asks community to ‘identify the helpers’

Newport Beach Mayor Will O'Neill, seen in February 2020, was selected to serve a second term as mayor Tuesday.
Newport Beach Mayor Will O’Neill, seen on Feb. 7, 2020, was selected to serve a second term as mayor during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)
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In his first term as mayor of Newport Beach a few years ago, Will O’Neill planned to recognize members of the community who performed good works through volunteering.

But O’Neill took the leading role on the Newport Beach City Council heading into 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic had other plans and derailed those in-chambers recognition ceremonies.

The council unanimously voted Tuesday to have O’Neill serve a second term as mayor and with his first remarks, he broke into a familiar refrain.


“Here in Newport Beach, we have a whole lot of people who are helpers,” O’Neill said. “People who run toward the danger, who aid the marginalized, who sit and hold the grieving. We have people who experience loss and tragedy and wake up in the coming days looking for ways to serve this world and make it a better place.

“My hope is that my council colleagues are going to help identify the helpers who deserve our recognition, and frankly, I hope you do, too.”

Those comments led up to a presentation of the key to the city to Mario Marovic, a Newport Beach restaurant owner who helped raise funds to bring the city’s fire department a support dog.

O’Neill added that his priorities included bolstering public safety and practicing good governance.

“I sit here recognizing that I have no idea what this next year is going to bring,” O’Neill said, reflecting on the pandemic that defined his first term as mayor. “But I do know that we are Newport Beach, and that brings with it resilience and really high expectations.

“So no matter the events of the coming year, we can and we should remain a beacon of good governance in a swirling world of uncertainty, chaos and outside policies that undermine public safety and property rights of cities like ours.”

Three council members received nominations from their peers on the dais for mayor pro tem — Robyn Grant, Joe Stapleton and Lauren Kleiman. With four votes required for a selection, the council elected Stapleton to the position on the second round of voting.

Councilman Erik Weigand said outgoing Mayor Noah Blom “honorably served” after he faced opposition to his appointment to the role.

“During the campaign, a lot of us heard a lot of discussion, and for me personally, I heard a lot of discussion saying that we shouldn’t let you become the mayor,” Weigand said. “I hope those critics recognize after a year of you being up here that they were wrong.”

Blom kept his remarks brief and self-deprecating.

“I think it’s an interesting experience when you’re put in a position in which you’re not totally prepared for, which is, I think, what a lot of the critics that Erik was referring to said,” Blom said. “But you have an understanding on how you live your own life and how you run your business, and I think I’ve brought both those things here, and I’m having a great time doing it.”