New Mayor for Newport

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New Mayor Diane Dixon and outgoing Mayor Ed Selich pose for a photo after Tuesday’s council meeting. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
New Mayor Diane Dixon and outgoing Mayor Ed Selich pose for a photo after Tuesday’s council meeting.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Newport Beach has a new mayor.

City Council members voted unanimously for Diane Dixon as the 2016 mayor and Kevin Muldoon as mayor pro tem.

With Dixon in the middle, the council also reorganized the seating arrangements Tuesday night and divided the dais the same way several votes were split during the year.

After Muldoon took his spot at Dixon’s right (where the mayor pro tem officially sits) the other council members played “musical chairs.” Without saying a word, they swapped seats so that the newest council members from “Team Newport” (Muldoon, Marshall “Duffy” Duffield and Scott Peotter) were to Dixon’s right and the seasoned council members from what’s left of the “Dream Team” (Selich, Keith Curry and Tony Petros) were to her left.

The new seating arrangement illustrates how the council has often been divided during a bit of a difficult year.

“It has been a year of challenges,” Selich said.

He aimed to help the new and old council members transition in a manner that was fair to everyone.

“I believe we had a smooth transition, although we did have a few minor bumps in the road,” Selich said.

It could have been a lot rougher, he noted, but it went pretty well. It’s time to pass the gavel, he added.

Chamber of Commerce President Steve Rosansky introduces Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Muldoon during the chamber’s reception event on Tuesday. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
Chamber of Commerce President Steve Rosansky introduces Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Muldoon during the chamber’s reception event on Tuesday.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

“Now it’s time to turn the leadership over to Team Newport,” Selich said. “They’ve had a year of seasoning and they’re ready.”

After working with them over the past year, things haven’t changed much, Selich continued. Getting down to it, the two groups aren’t really that different, he added. They all believe in transparency in government, engaging the residents and businesses, and maintaining fiscal responsibility, Selich said.

New Mayor Dixon agreed that 2015 has been “unique and challenging.”

The city has been able to count on Selich during tough times during his two decade tenure of city service, Dixon commented, and this year another example of that. He led the council with four new members on it following a watershed election, she said.

“Once again, he met the challenge,” Dixon said.

She went over some of Selich’s accomplishments and his history on the council. Dixon also noted a few projects and achievements the council worked on during the 2015 year and her objectives for the upcoming year.

Her top five goals are to maintain fiscal discipline, revitalize and renew the city, protect the water, protect the city, and create public-private partnerships.

Dixon briefly noted a few issues she will be considering to meet those goals: Pension funding, simplifying the permit process, sea wall repair or replacement, developing a long-term master plan for maintenance and improvement in harbor and back bay, managing and complying with drought mandates, selecting a new chief of police (as current Chief Jay Johnson retires), community partnerships, and more.

“That is going to be a tall order,” she said.

She looked forward to her mayoral debut in the upcoming year.

“Our plates are full, our blessings are great, the calendar is busy, and we are prepared to work together to nurture and protect our shining city on the water,” Dixon said. “Our finest days are ahead.”

New Mayor Diane Dixon speaks during the reception. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
New Mayor Diane Dixon speaks during the reception.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

At the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Mayor Reception, held at the Back Bay Bistro following the council meeting, Dixon reiterated her excitement.

“I’m just so thrilled to be your mayor,” she said at the reception.

She hopes to live up to the great footsteps of the previous mayors, she noted.  

Dixon emphasized the importance of business owners and community leaders and looks forward to working with both, along with fellow council members, in 2016. She anticipates great things for the city.

Dixon thanked her council colleagues, city staff, Newport Beach residents and her family.

Muldoon also said a few words at the reception. He thanked both Selich and Dixon and expressed a positive outlook for the upcoming year.

Outgoing mayor Selich was also honored at the event. He thanked his council colleagues, city staff and the residents.

During the council meeting, Selich once again added a little humor to his speech with his “Thank You Notes,” modeled after late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon’s skit of the same name.

: Following the changing of seats on the dais, outgoing Mayor Ed Selich (third from right) reads his thank you notes during the meeting. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
: Following the changing of seats on the dais, outgoing Mayor Ed Selich (third from right) reads his thank you notes during the meeting.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

After cueing some soft  piano music, Selich sarcastically thanked his fellow council members and a few staff members.

Among others, he “thanked”: Duffield for keeping his comments brief so Selich could get home in time to watch the “Dancing With the Stars” TV show; Dixon for her long monologues, which caused him to miss “Dancing With the Stars;” Muldoon for being confused with Muldoon’s Irish Pub, where Selich was treated extra nice this year; Petros for wearing fancy bowties to the meetings and causing the other council members to feel underdressed; Peotter for not blowing up the bunnies, which Peotter’s own granddaughter actually likes; and Curry for not saying what was on his mind during meetings and leaving his fellow council members wondering how he truly felt.

He also “thanked” City Clerk Leilani Brown for deliberately making mistakes on the council minutes so it would give resident and city watchdog Jim Mosher something to do,  City Attorney Aaron Harp for clarifying when council members can and cannot use the city seal since some still can’t figure out when it’s allowed, which Selich then asked if it was allowed for his thank you notes, and City Manager Dave Kiff for maintaining his composure during meetings, although Selich said he could always tell when Kiff was laughing or confused at what the council members were doing.

“I like to have a little bit of humor because even though what we do here is serious I think it’s necessary to step back from time to time and take things a little bit lightly,” Selich said.

He went on to seriously thank those same people again, along with several others.

“It has been an honor to serve this year as mayor,” Selich said. “I look forward to 2016 and even greater things for our city.”

For more information, visit newportbeachca.gov.

New Mayor Diane Dixon and Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce President Steve Rosansky pose for photos during the chamber’s Mayor Reception on Tuesday night. — Photo by Sara Hall ©
New Mayor Diane Dixon and Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce President Steve Rosansky pose for photos during the chamber’s Mayor Reception on Tuesday night.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©
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