Selich is next Newport mayor; Dixon is mayor pro tem

Judge James E. Rogan swears in Kevin Muldoon during Tuesday's Newport Beach City Council meeting.
(Susan Hoffman / Daily Pilot)

Newport Beach welcomed four new City Council members to the dais Tuesday night, bidding farewell to the leadership of the last four years.

Newcomers Kevin Muldoon (District 4), Diane Dixon (District 1), Marshall “Duffy” Duffield (District 3) and Scott Peotter (District 6) joined Keith Curry (District 7), Tony Petros (District 2) and Ed Selich (District 5) on the seven-member council.

Immediately following the administering of the oath of office, the newly seated council unanimously voted to name Ed Selich the city’s next mayor. He had been serving as mayor pro tem.

“I believe we will do as Newport Beach city councils past have done, which is come together to make our city even better,” Selich said. “The new will merge with the old and we will have a better city.”

The council also unanimously voted to name Diane Dixon mayor pro tem. Selich and Dixon will assume the roles for one year.

“All of you who voted for change, you spoke and the city listened,” Dixon said. “I will act in the best interest of our city after hearing all sides of an issue. To the residents and business owners, this is your council and I’m here to serve you.”

After getting comfortable in their new seats, the new council members listed items they would like to place on the agenda for the Jan. 13 council meeting, including discussion of the audit on the construction of the civic center, which proved controversial for its increasing costs, and possibilities for repealing the tax increase on residential docks located on public tidelands, another contentious issue in the city.

They also said they want to discuss options for bringing back wood-burning fire rings. The city in conjunction with the Air Quality Management District decided to allow only charcoal to be burned in beach fire pits to reduce pollution.

Outgoing council members Rush Hill, Mike Henn, Leslie Daigle and Nancy Gardner took their seats at the start of the meeting but eventually stepped down in a sort of changing of the guard to allow their successors to be seated.

Hill lost his seat in the November election. Daigle, Gardner and Henn were termed out after serving eight years. Hill was elected in 2010.

Muldoon, Dixon, Peotter and Duffy — collectively dubbed “Team Newport” — swept November’s election, which some people believe signals a change for Newport Beach politics.

Team Newport’s campaign message indicated they would lean more to the right than the more-moderate Republicans who had sat on the council.

“New leadership is ready to take over,” Hill said as he vacated his seat. “The decision will be theirs to either continue the momentum that exists through well-thought-out strategic plans or risk disrupting the delicate balance of funding that produces a high quality of life — and losing a highly motivated and productive delivery team.”

Outgoing council members pointed to what they claimed as accomplishments: delivering a solid financial strategic plan that includes paying off public pension debt faster, the construction of the new civic center complex, the dredging of Newport Harbor for the first time in 80 years, and improving the city’s libraries and parks, including the opening over the weekend of Sunset Ridge Park.

“This council has tackled every tough problem that we needed to,” Henn said. “We never kicked the can down the road on a single problem to leave the mess for someone else.”

For the record: This version corrects the status of Daigle, Gardner and Henn. They did not lose their seats in the election; they were termed out.