Op/Ed: Seven Questions for the City Council Candidates

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By Keith Curry / Newport Beach City Councilmember

This year will be a critical election for our city.

In December, no member of the council will have more than two years of experience, and there have been many issues where the change of a single vote would have had profound consequences for our community.

I suggest voters ask these seven questions to each of the candidates:

  1. Do you support the city manager?

Dave Kiff is an outstanding city manager and has put together a group of truly gifted department heads. Rather than following the lead of the professional staff, the Team Newport councilmembers have displayed a thinly veiled distrust of our staff and have commissioned or proposed hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary “consultant studies” addressing questions the staff is fully capable of answering. This waste must stop before our strong city staff moves on to other cities.

  1. Where do you look to for inspiration and ideas?

Newport residents were relieved that until the last election, we had avoided the hyper-partisan, divisive politics of Costa Mesa and Irvine. Now we have councilmembers such as Scott Peotter, who hang out at the Costa Mesa Tea Party and want to import Irvine politics to Newport. One 2016 candidate, Lee Lowrey, is a business partner of Costa Mesa’s divisive Jim Righeimer. Are they going to accelerate this divisiveness?

  1. Do you support the Peotter cut in the business license tax?

This proposed cut would reduce the general fund by more than $3 million, an amount equal to the cost of approximately 20 police officers, and it would gut the general fund.  The benefit of this cut would mostly go to the Irvine Company, Pimco and large international law firms. Twice it has received three votes. Will one of the new councilmembers put it over the top?

  1. Do you support the proposed Westside Community Center?

Tony Petros has fought hard for this needed facility for residents on the west side of town. Team Newport political boss Bob McCaffrey has called for it to be eliminated and Scott Peotter has suggested it will only be used by “people from Costa Mesa.” Will they provide the fourth vote to kill the project?

  1. Where to you stand on the issue of political reform?

Mayor Dixon and Team Newport have refused to consider reforms to make our campaign contribution limits more enforceable, to plug loopholes that have allowed big money to dominate our elections, and to require lobbyists such as campaign manager Dave Ellis to reveal their lobbyist clients. Where do the candidates stand?

  1. Will you sell the old city hall site?

Much the same way rental income from the Balboa Bay Resort provides the primary funding for our Tidelands fund, the lease of the old city hall site provides revenue to support our ongoing general fund programs. Peotter and others on Team Newport want to sell this property and use the money for their own pet projects. Doing so will reduce our ability to fund ongoing city operations. Where do they stand?

  1. Exactly how long have you lived in your district?

In the last election, candidates were moved into town from Pasadena and Irvine to run for council. Scott Peotter was put up in an apartment over an alley in Corona del Mar. This March, Lee Lowrey was installed in a back unit on Balboa Island. (I am impressed with the number of alley safe houses available to Team Newport for their candidates). How long have they been in your district? Do they even pay a water bill?

The Team Newer to Newport slate can be expected to try to avoid debates and sidestep these questions. I encourage all voters to demand answers.

Keith Curry

Newport Beach Councilmember

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