Riding the elephant, sometimes

He is the only incumbent running in a crowded field of 12 candidates on the Huntington Beach City Council ticket, and while he likes to please the Orange County GOP, Councilman Devin Dwyer says he votes for city first and party second.

"I like to continue what I'm doing," he said. "I'm working hard for Huntington Beach and want to see some things completed."

His willingness to publicly align with liberals at times has put him in hot water with the Republican Party. The most notable example is when Dwyer, 49, supported the city's plastic bag ban, which the party faithful and many businesses opposed.

He received the Republican endorsement in this race but the process wasn't automatic; Dwyer had to explain that vote to the interview panel.

"I sure got smacked from my side," he said with a laugh.

He remains a Republican favorite, although council seats are technically non-partisan. He's endorsed by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), State Sen. Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach) and Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa).

An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Tom Harman as an Assembly member. He is a state senator.

He's earned the respect of some Democrats as well. Former Mayor Shirley, a Democrat, doesn't always agree with Dwyer, but said that his support of the city's senior center is a big plus.

"He has experience having been on the council," she said. "And he's very open. He's always been very willing to meet with us if there are any issues we wish to discuss."

Mayor Don Hansen, who voted against the bag ban, doesn't always agree with Dwyer, but said he is the best candidate for the position.

"Devin is concerned about the fiscal sustainability of our city and is making solid decisions that benefit our entire community," Hansen said. "Devin is an independent thinker. He gets to make his own decision."

Dwyer differed with Hansen when he became the deciding vote that kept the Mobile Home Advisory Board intact. In a review of the city's committees, recommendations were made to do away with the advisory board, due to a lack of participation from mobile home owners.

"My party, yes, it's in the back of my mind," Dwyer said, "but I want to make the right decisions for Huntington Beach, not my party."

Dwyer said he's pleased with Gov. Jerry Brown's plan on pension reform and recently got the City Council to agree to a hiring freeze until Assembly Bill 340 starts getting implemented. The bill would increase the retirement age and establish lower retirement benefits for public employees hired beginning Jan. 1, 2013.

Dwyer, who grew up in Huntington Beach, said he wants the city to be a safe place for his 9-year-old daughter, Sophia, and offer her what the city offered him.

A general contractor by trade, Dwyer would like to see the city upgrade its infrastructure more often and have enough money to be able to afford more than just the patchwork that's done to fill holes or fix sidewalks.

"This is my trade," he said. "This is what I know."

Dwyer said that he at least once went about an issue the wrong way, but his intentions were in the right place.

In 2009, Dwyer threatened to resign his post and cut up his latest street-sweeping ticket if the city didn't change its policy, according to an Independent article written at the time. Dwyer had received 12 tickets for not moving his car during street-sweeping, the article stated.

He later regretted his behavior and worked on finding ways to help residents in similar situations, he said.

Now, residents can go on the city's website and sign up to get text or email alerts about what's happening in their neighborhoods, including reminders to move their cars before a scheduled street-sweeping, Dwyer said.


Twitter: @MonaShadia

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