Stapleton withdraws from Newport council race

Citing a need to see through other commitments, Joe Stapleton has withdrawn his bid for Newport Beach City Council.

A harbor commissioner since July and chairman of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors since September, Stapleton has felt "uneasy" about the prospect of stepping down from those positions if elected to the council, he wrote in an email to supporters, friends and family Thursday night.

"It feels that I would be leaving both boards when some very important initiatives for the community — both the residents and the business communities — are being developed," he wrote.

Stapleton is no stranger to balancing commitments: The financial advisor, who was running in the Peninsula-area 1st District, counts himself a member of 13 community groups. He holds a leadership role for many.

Among the positions, Stapleton serves on the boards of Lobsterfest, OC Marathon, Pacific Arts Foundation and the local University of Arizona alumni association, which is called OC Cats. He chairs the Leadership Tomorrow board of directors.

"My motivating factor is to make a difference," he said in an interview about his council candidacy earlier this year. "I want to be an agent of change."

Stapleton — who is also a member of the Orange County Young Republicans and the West Newport Beach Assn. — is often at the Pacific Club gym by 6:30 a.m. before heading to breakfast, which usually entails a business meeting.

As a council candidate, he devoted any available time he had to meetings with leaders and members of the community, be they council members or bar owners. He booked his appointments weeks in advance, counting five hours of sleep as plenty.

"I don't know how the guy finds the time to do all the things he does," chamber President Steve Rosansky said earlier this year. "Joe's got a lot of energy."

Stapleton, who drinks neither coffee nor alcohol, took his first true vacation since 2006 last November, when he traveled to Hawaii for nearly a week. He spent the evening of his 30th birthday Wednesday at a Harbor Commission meeting.

In January, Stapleton passed along one torch, the leadership of a young professionals group he founded called Elite OC. But upon being congratulated, he insisted little had changed.

"I'm not stepping down," he said. "I'm not stepping anywhere."

Dropping out of the November council race was not a decision that came lightly, Stapleton said Friday, but he remained confident that he had made the right choice as the chamber continued to grow and the Harbor Commission faced upcoming decisions about changing the harbor dock systems and adding water taxis.

Stapleton had raised $32,000 toward his campaign, which he intends to keep for a future race, unless any donor requests a refund.

"It's not a matter of if a position of leadership will be in my future; it's a matter of when," Stapleton said. "I've got to see these things through right now."

Stapleton moved in 2006 to Newport Beach, where he was born and had spent many of his summers. He does not plan to leave any time soon and assured supporters in his email of his ongoing support for the community and commitment to bringing forth a new generation of leaders.

Businesswoman Diane Dixon and technology expert Michael Glenn remain in the running for the seat, currently occupied by Councilman Mike Henn.

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