If you’re like most of the nation, you can’t wait till this election year is over and you can get back to your pleasurable routines and civil discussions. Until then, both the national and local elections will continue to be like no other in our lifetime.
You would have to be living under a rock not to notice that the local election between the City of Newport Beach Council incumbent, Jeff Herdman and Newport Beach native, Noah Blom, has been one of the most heated elections our City has witnessed in a while.
Herdman, who has been part of the public establishment for some time, working as a school administrator for most of his life and then City Councilman over the last four years, has certainly had an advantage over small business owner Noah Blom.
Incumbents enjoy an overwhelming advantage in elections. They get to spend their term campaigning year-round, not just at election time. Incumbents get the honored place in the parade, the prime speaking position, the upper hand when it comes to raising money, usually ahead of time.
Challengers have to fight for visibility and money. In fact, challengers are at a disadvantage at almost every point in a campaign. From building name recognition to arranging meetings to building credibility with editorial boards, donors, and opinion leaders, they’re always trudging uphill.
It’s not surprising that incumbents have a sense of entitlement when running for reelection, but incumbent Jeff Herdman has taken it to a whole new level. In recent encounters, Herdman has publicly chastised and scolded numerous residents in his district that chose to support someone else, as witnessed from a Balboa Island resident testimonial on Nextdoor who posted her more-than-uncomfortable encounter with Herdman in front of her own home.
He has also been caught ripping out his competitor’s campaign signs more than once, dropping red colored notes off to neighbors while listing scandalous claims about his competitor, liken to the Scarlet Letter.
Herdman’s establishment friends are all on board as well, such ex-councilmen turned re-development consultants/supporters Keith Curry, Ed Selich, John Noyes and Don Webb. They are casting unsubstantiated dark and mysterious stories about how Noah Blom, the restaurateur and small business owner, if elected, will change the character of Newport Beach forever.
All the while these same individuals have been the architects of exactly this kind of change over the last decade! After all, Herdman promised Ed Selich he would re-develop Marine Ave on Balboa Island, after Ed helped Herdman get elected, replacing Selich’s district 5 council seat in 2016.
Even Lynn Lorenz, someone who claims not to be part of Herdman’s campaign, has helped Herdman by writing almost 50 letters to various editors this election cycle purporting, “Give Democracy a Chance!”
Council members shouldn’t be elected just because they feel entitled to the position. Newport Beach City residents should look at the incumbent’s record and see exactly how they voted. Did they vote for issues and resolutions that residents deemed important and that they campaigned on?
Voters should ask themselves, has significant progress been made in critical quality of life issues such as the John Wayne Airport expansion, traffic and the trend of “mansionizing” our City?
And, finally, does the incumbent treat their constituents with respect and professionalism?
If the answer is no, then maybe it’s time to elect a new voice and a new leader for District 5 Council.
Alan Katz / Newport Beach