Letter to the Editor: The Wrong Choice for City Council

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In the November election, the Newport Beach city council will substantially change due to term limits. In District Three, civic activist Jim Mosher is one of three candidates running for a seat on the council.

I have a lot of respect for Jim. He is invariably polite and has a sincere interest in city affairs. We have often joked we should hire him as a proof reader given his ability to find typos in staff reports.

l have literally spent 48 hours of my life listening to Jim make public comments. I actually heard what he has to say, and I strongly believe he would be a poor choice for the city council.

Jim’s ideas are often unworkable, short sighted, or simply too expensive for the taxpayers.

Consider the following examples.

On his website, Jim proposes a primary and runoff system to elect city council members. This would double the taxpayer cost to hold elections every two years. More importantly, it would more than double the cost of candidates to run for council, increasing the power and influence of special interests. Do you think the election season now, which basically runs from September to the first of November is too long?  Think what it would be if candidates were putting up signs and sending mail starting in April.

Several times, Jim has spoken before the council to oppose our support of tourism in Newport Beach because the traffic is inconvenient for him when he rides his bicycle.  The $27.8 million generated from our hotel taxes is the third largest revenue source for the city and it’s paid almost exclusively by non-residents.  t is this revenue that allows us to have world class police, fire, park and library services in Newport Beach.

Tourism also makes a significant contribution to our $46 million in sales tax revenues.  There could be no more significant “Defund the Police” initiative than to reduce tourism related revenues. Not only would public services like police, fire and library suffer if we had followed his advice, Newport Beach has over 400 restaurants, far more than our residents can support alone. Many, perhaps your neighborhood favorite, would be forced to close without our visitors.

Council members must be able to consider the community as a whole, not just narrow perspectives.

A close look at his website indicates Jim doesn’t mention crime or public safety at all, and he really has no concrete solutions for homelessness, affordable housing or maintaining our harbor.

Indeed, he has opposed the compromise development agreement that will provide $16 million for the creation of workforce housing, a key element in meeting our state mandates and preserving the quality of our neighborhoods. He has called our groundbreaking Airport Settlement Agreement “useless.”

I have observed that Jim approaches issues from an “I’m right and you’re wrong” approach. As a council member, you are like a judge evaluating competing truths from neighbors and trying to reach a decision in the best interests of all residents. This requires flexible judgement and the willingness to be open to new ideas.  Commendably, Jim had enough self-awareness of his approach when he was considered as a Planning Commissioner to acknowledge that he may not have been the best choice.

Jim Mosher plays an important role in our community as a watch dog, but his ideas would be expensive and often unworkable if he were a council member.

Keith Curry, Former Newport Beach Mayor

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