Newport civic leader, former council candidate dies

Dolores Otting, a former Newport Beach City Council candidate and outspoken government critic, has died. She was 59.

Otting succumbed to a long-term illness at Hoag Hospital on Feb. 1, her husband, Tony Otting, said.

He declined to publicly disclose the exact cause of death.

A persistent advocate for open government and prudent city spending, Otting spoke at council meetings over the past 20 years.

She ran for the council four times, and once nearly won the District 7 seat representing Spyglass Hill, Harbor Ridge and parts of Newport Coast.

"Dolores was tenacious," said Councilman Keith Curry, who beat Otting in two elections. "And although we disagreed on the issues, she cared passionately about Newport Beach, and she was always looking to make the city a better place."

Her causes were some of the biggest of the past two decades: supporting the slow-growth Greenlight initiative; pushing for an airport at the former El Toro Marine Corps base; fighting homes she saw as outsized for their neighborhoods; limiting spending on the under-construction Civic Center; and demanding more "respect" from City Council members.

"She'd let them have it, and they would deserve it," Tony Otting said. "She inspired a lot of people."

Otting became involved with municipal politics when she and her husband co-owned Dewey's, a trash hauling business. She would attend council meetings to monitor city trash issues.

Even after they sold the business to Waste Management, she would keep an eye on refuse matters, including an obscure city fund designed to pay for cleaning up trash spills.

"She would always watch that fund like a hawk," said City Manager Dave Kiff. "She would be critical, but she would do it with a smile and even a sense of humor … She didn't take herself so seriously."

Otting mused about the city's current affairs in an occasional submission to the Daily Pilot, and at one time served as president of the Newport Harbor Republican Women.

Born in White Plains, N.Y. in 1952, Otting later grew up in Saugus, Mass. She moved to Newport in 1980 and married her husband in 1989.

Otting is survived by her parents, two sisters, and a brother, all of whom live on the East Coast.

Twitter: @mreicher

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