Fight Club owner plans to run for Newport council

Roy Englebrecht is spoiling for a fight — this time in the political arena.

The longtime fight promoter and Newport Beach resident announced plans to run for the city's District 4 council seat, which will be vacated by Councilwoman Leslie Daigle in November 2014, when she's termed out.

Englebrecht cited the beach fire rings issue as the reason he decided to run.

"It was really the fire rings issue and the way it was handled," he said Wednesday when asked what factored into his decision. "I'm not a complainer ... and I'm going to put my money where my mouth is and say, 'If you don't like it, change it.' This was an issue that just really hit me between the eyes."

According to the Fight Club OC website, Englebrecht is the company's chief executive. The company stages boxing matches and other types of fights at various area venues, including the Orange County Fairgrounds.

Englebrecht is also the owner of fight promoter Roy Englebrecht Promotions.

The council in March 2012 voted to ask the California Coastal Commission for permission to get rid of Newport's 60 fire rings, saying they posed a health risk to residents living nearby.

That discussion spurred regional air quality regulators to consider a fire ring ban, which would have affected beaches throughout Orange and Los Angeles counties.

Earlier this month, after a major public outcry, the South Coast Air Quality Management District adopted a kind of compromise with regulations that would leave most fire rings intact, but could still result in their removal from the beaches of Newport.

The Newport council, after an intense debatevoted unanimously to move forward with plans to get rid of the rings.

"I was there from the beginning, in February [2012], when the city asked the [Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission] to take public comment," Englebrecht said. "This wasn't an issue about smoke, it wasn't about fire, it wasn't about rings. It was about access to the public beach for everybody, when a few people wanted to change that."

Englebrecht, 67, still serves on the city's Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission.

Recently, Daigle has publicly changed her position, saying that after discussions with constituents, she has decided to support leaving all the city's wood-burning fire rings in place.

City officials have agreed to work with the AQMD on an alternative fuel fire ring pilot program. The council will likely consider a variety of options in coming months.

Englebrecht pledged to fully discuss all alternatives surrounding any issue facing the city — a process he said was absent in the fire-ring debate.

Wednesday, he said his most important qualification for a council job is his "common sense."

Englebrecht said one issue he hopes to work on, if he wins the seat, is ways of generating a "return on investment" at the new civic center.

He added that he's a successful entrepreneur and a "workaholic," which may be necessary to keep his fight promotion business running if council duties are added into the mix.

"I don't believe in good, I believe in great," he said. "I don't shy away from work."

Englebrecht is a married father of two Corona del Mar High School graduates, according to a news release.

Newport, he said, is "paradise."

"The only thing better than Newport Beach is heaven," he said. "And I plan on living in both places."

The candidate lives in the Harbor Cove community and is a registered Republican, public records show.

Daigle is in her second full term representing the 4th District, which encompasses Harbor Cove, along with Eastbluff, Newport Center and several other planned communities. She was first appointed to the position in 2004.

She said that while a number of big-ticket issues may see some resolution within the next year and a half — like the extension of John Wayne Airport's traffic and noise regulations, and much of a Upper Newport Bay restoration project — she said residents will likely have plenty to talk about.

"I think the most important characteristic is to listen to people — hear what they have to say, identify their concerns and see what they can do to respond to them," she said. "You want to understand the planning philosophy of the city."

Englebrecht is among the first to announce his candidacy on a ballot that could significantly change the face of the Newport Beach City Council. In addition to Daigle, District 6 Councilwoman Nancy Gardner and District 1 Councilman Mike Henn will be termed out, and Mayor Pro Tem Rush Hill's District 3 seat is due for an election.

Hill said Wednesday he intends to run.

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