Candidate Tabbert brings an environmental voice

Newport Beach isn't exactly home to many tree-huggers.

The seven-member City Council has Nancy Gardner, a surfer who has long worked on water quality and other sustainability projects, and Leslie Daigle, who has thrust herself into the city's environmental issues, often in a financial and governmental relations roles.

Then comes Mark Tabbert, a bonafide climate change advocate, looking to unseat Daigle for District 4, which includes Eastbluff, Santa Ana Heights and the airport area.

Tabbert links Newport's future to broader issues: "protecting our coastline, unsustainable growth, and the impacts of climate change and rising oil prices," he wrote in a candidate profile.

Daigle, who helped secure funding for the dredging of Upper Newport Bay, and who is now working to dredge the lower bay, ties environmental issues to economic prosperity.

"My emphasis is how our local environment impacts our way of life and even our property values," said Daigle, who also chairs the Citizens Aviation Advisory Committee, which deals with John Wayne Airport's noise.

But Tabbert has learned that Newport residents care about growth and business; he has walked the city's streets and knocked on thousands of doors.

"I'm not an environmentalist that doesn't recognize the responsibility to the economy and the rest of the world," Tabbert said at a recent debate.

He resigned from the board of the Banning Ranch Task Force and Conservancy, which works to keep Banning Ranch open space. Tabbert said at a recent debate he would try to thwart efforts to develop Banning.

That might pit him against the rest of the council, which is friendly to developers. That's OK for Tabbert. He wants to be, "another voice on the council, and not so many unanimous votes."

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