Blair Farley is everyday people. Folks in the Newport-Mesa area know him best as a pastor and technology director at Mariners Church.
But in his hometown, Huntington Beach, Farley has taken on a different calling: politics. He is running for City Council in Surf City because he believes the city in recent years has favored developers and special-interest groups over residents.
"Everyone thinks every election is critical, but this one really does have potential to shape what our city looks like moving forward," said Farley. "It's an opportunity for people, in my opinion, to take back control of the direction of Huntington Beach and return it to a more common-sense approach that emphasizes residential quality of life and sustainability."
In 2004, Farley ran for the council and finished 10th with 3% of the vote. This year, however, he's gotten some early boosts. The Huntington Beach Firefighter's Assn., which hasn't endorsed a losing candidate in the last three council elections, gave him one of its four nods, while the Huntington Beach Downtown Residents Assn., a grass-roots group that operates an elaborate election website, endorsed him along with Boardman and Shaw.
And although Farley works in Irvine — the church is just over the border from Newport Beach, where the church started — he has more than a little name recognition in Surf City. In addition to the Planning Commission, he belongs to the Chamber of Commerce and the grass-roots group Huntington Beach Tomorrow, and he's served as a member of the city's Fourth of July Executive Board and a liaison to the Design Review Board and Environmental Board.
Kim Kramer, the spokesman of the Huntington Beach Downtown Residents Assn., said Farley, who got the group's first endorsement, was an easy choice.
"Blair Farley is a local hero standing up to the overzealous developers and special interests that are destroying our beach community," Kramer said. "As the chair of the Planning Commission, he always advocates for the residents, and he is the No. 1 endorsement of the [association].
As a planning commissioner, Farley has joined his colleagues in supporting the Beach-Edinger mixed-use project and the planned Costco in Huntington Beach, but he has also been in the minority more than once recently. He was the only commissioner who voted against subdividing the Huntington Shorecliffs Mobile Home Park, citing residents' disapproval as his reason, and he was among three voting against the controversial Ridge development in Bolsa Chica in April.
Among Farley's other goals on the council are to lay the groundwork for more public transportation in town and to seek alternate locations for a new senior center, rather than the one in Huntington Central Park that a judge recently blocked.
Boardman, who entered the race in August shortly before the deadline, said she knew little about Farley before Shaw suggested the three of them run together. However, she said she was quickly won over.
"Blair is incredibly knowledgeable about the issues, and he's very smart," Boardman said. "Those are the two things that I noticed right away. And he has deep roots in the community He cares deeply about the community."