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Mailbag: Former Newport Beach mayors decry attacks on Stapleton

Newport Beach City Hall.
Newport Beach City Hall. Four former mayors of the city are concerned about the political tactics of a candidate for City Council.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

We are off to a poor start for the 2022 election. Tom Miller, a newcomer to Newport Beach who recently sold his auto detailing business, moved to town and decided it would be fun to be on the City Council, has personally and through surrogates attacked the integrity of Joe Stapleton, one of the most ethical and community-focused candidates to run for office in a generation.

Without any connection to the community, Miller invested in out of town consultants who are gleefully spending his money on Thanksgiving cards and “opposition research.” They found that more than 20 years ago, Joe Stapleton (who does not drink), was the designated driver for his friends and was at a party where alcohol was served and some were under 21. He received a traffic ticket and wrote an essay as punishment. Let us note that many of us, and we expect many of you, may have been in this same situation.

As a political neophyte, Miller seized on this as his silver bullet and used this information to attack Stapleton at the Republican endorsement committee. When the committee heard the facts, they not only unanimously endorsed Stapleton, they unanimously issued a rare negative recommendation on Miller. This is essentially a finding that Miller is unfit to hold public office, a remarkable rebuke to his dirty campaign tactics.

Since this is the only issue his campaign seems to have, he has used surrogates to try to keep the story alive in increasingly shrill and mudslinging letters to the editor. It is a strategy that does not belong in our community.

Collectively, we have been active in the civic affairs of Newport Beach for decades, none of us had ever heard of Tom Miller until he started running for council last year. We often don’t agree with each other on the issues, but we all agree that Joe Stapleton has given decades of service to make Newport Beach a better city. As a member of the Finance Committee he can hit the ground running on day one to ensure we stay a well-managed city. As a former Harbor Commissioner, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, Citizen of the Year, and leader of the Newport Beach Foundation, Joe understands our city, its unique character and is committed to keeping it strong and vibrant.

It is hypocritical and dishonest for Miller to challenge Stapleton’s veracity, when he himself has been called out for listing “endorsements” from former elected officials who have never endorsed him. Newport Beach cannot afford out of town amateurs moving in and taking over our city. We support Joe Stapleton and we encourage you to join us.

Will O’Neill, former mayor
Duffy Duffield, former mayor
Rush Hill, former mayor
Keith Curry, former mayor

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