Why is it that we so often appreciate people more after they are gone?
Tony Petros has left the City Council. When I expressed my feelings of disappointment over his departure with some of my neighbors, they too said that they were sincerely sorry to see him go. I wish that we had told him earlier how much we appreciate his candor and his independence.
It is not as if Tony always saw things your way. But when he didn’t, he was honest and upfront about it. He was definitely no pushover.
My first involvement in city politics was a discussion that I had with Tony a few years ago over my displeasure in outsourcing trash collection in Newport Beach. He disagreed with me and was not shy in stating his views. But I wasn’t either and in the end my concerns were addressed.
Tony got personally involved with issues that were taking place in his area, from the revitalization of the post office on Riverside Drive to the replanting of Cliff Drive Park. One of the most controversial interactions with residents in which he was involved was no doubt, the Undergrounding movement which caused great division in the Heights. The undergrounding of utilities was taking place all over Newport, but Tony’s district became one of the most divided and vociferous over their feelings about this issue. It must have been difficult for him to have to grapple with his personal feelings and those of his constituency.
His unhappiness showed; however, when it came time for a crucial decisive vote on the issue at a City Council Meeting, Tony was the only Council Member who voted to follow the rules that the Council itself had established, because it was very apparent that he was in touch with the feelings of his constituency, like them or not.
It was at the Council Meeting on Tuesday, November 29, that Tony again voted against his own opinion on Museum House because he knew that that was what the people he represented wanted him to do. He was the only Council Member who did this. It is actually through this comparison and contrast with some of his peers, that his true value as a Council Member becomes apparent. He speaks intelligently, decisively and most importantly, extemporaneously. Not using a prepared speech shows that he has not come to the meeting at which he is supposed to be listening to both sides of an issue, with his decisions already established.
He was aware of the large crowd in the audience that was there to oppose the building of Museum House. He speaks and acts professionally at Council meetings, not resorting to personal attacks, pettiness or remarks to those who do not agree with him. Tony’s intellect and leadership skills stand out and will be sorely missed on the City Council.