With Election Day come and gone, results show that Newport Beach City Council will soon see three new faces on the dais: Brad Avery, Jeff Herdman, and Will O’Neill.
Each race had some interesting ups and downs Tuesday night, as all 63 precincts reported more than 25,000 votes for each district.
In Newport’s closest council race in District 5, Herdman was an early leader and held onto his lead throughout the night, finishing with 36.4 percent of the votes.
“I am so very pleased to have been elected,” Herdman, a retired educator, wrote in an email on Wednesday. “I’m looking forward to establishing a good working relationship with all council members.”
The longtime Balboa Island resident spent Election Night with his family for a low-key dinner.
His lead was a bit of a roller coaster on Tuesday night, starting at 37.6 percent at 8 p.m., which held through the 9:30 p.m. update, then went up to 38 percent, then back down to the 11 p.m. 37.5 percent figure, before the final dip. But with each up and down, he stayed in front of the pack.
Behind Herdman in District 5, Lee Lowrey finished with an even 33 percent of the votes. Lowrey’s share continued to drop throughout the night, starting with a high of 34.9 percent.
An even smaller gap between Lowrey and the third District 5 candidate, Mike Glenn, continued to narrow with each update.
Glenn was trailing all night, although his share of the votes continued to increase with each update. Starting with 27.5 percent of the votes, he ended the night with 30.6 percent.
“We came in at over 30 percent in a three-person race and had about 50 people walking districts, including myself – more of a ground game than both of my two opponents combined,” Glenn concluded after the results were reported.
He is proud of the campaign he ran and respects that Herdman collected more votes in their district.
“I respect the voting system which is the very foundation of our republic. Jeff Herdman will be our new councilman, as that is who the plurality of votes in our race,” Glenn said.
Herdman received a total of 9,471 votes, Lowrey gathered 8,590, and Glenn got 7,976.
In District 2, Harbor Commissioner Avery finished on top with 58.4 percent of votes.
“I look forward to serving on the Council for Newport Beach and to learning as much as I can about the city and its operations as a true freshman,” Avery said on Wednesday.
Although he nabbed the seat in the end, his lead over Shelley Henderson decreased quite a bit since the first results started rolling in at 8 p.m.
He had kicked off the night in front with 61.6 percent, and at 9:30 p.m. – when only 10 precincts were reporting – that figure dropped slightly to 61.5 percent. Avery then went down to 60.2 percent of the votes at 10:30 p.m., and that figure lowered again to 59.5 percent at 11 p.m.
Avery collected 14,834 votes and Henderson with 10,551.
Henderson said she is grateful to everyone who voted for her.
“While it was not enough to put us over the top this time, I am extremely proud of our campaign and grateful for the opportunity to meet so many of the wonderful residents of our city,” Henderson said.
Over in District 7, O’Neill maintained his lead throughout the night, with only slight increases and decreases with each update, and finished with more than half the votes.
“I am humbled by the outpouring of support from every corner of our great city. Phil Greer and Fred Ameri ran strong campaigns and iron has sharpened iron,” O’Neill noted in an email Wednesday. “We will continue to strengthen leaders in our community, balance budgets, maintain safe streets, improve infrastructure, and turn more attention to our harbor.”
O’Neill, a member of the Finance Committee, spent the evening with Avery and Lowrey, surrounded by friends, family, and supporters at Muldoon’s Irish Pub in Newport Center.
He received 50.3 percent of the votes in his race.
Phil Greer and Fred Ameri split the remaining votes 26.8 percent and 23 percent, respectively.
Greer’s share consistently decreased during the last three hours, while Ameri’s increased, although both only slightly. Greer started the evening with 27.7 percent and Ameri 22 percent.
“It was a hard fought campaign and congratulations to Will (O’Neill) on his victory,” Greer commented.
He also expressed congratulations for the other two new council members, Herdman and Avery.
As for the future, he didn’t have any details yet.
“I have no specific plans right now other than to spend some serious quality time with (my wife) Arlene,” Greer concluded. “And then we will see what happens.”
At the end of the night, O’Neill collected 13,077 votes, Greer received 6,965, and Ameri grabbed 5,980.
Ameri commented on the campaign and the results, referring to a lawsuit filed during the campaign about his name, signs posted in Persian about him, and other signs being destroyed.
“Racism and bigotry worked and won,” Ameri wrote in an email Thursday. “Contrary to my expectations, now I know that the mood is acutely prevalent in Newport Beach, a socially conservative city.”
Ameri stated that he would be changing his party to independent. He also hinted that there was more to come from him in the future.
“I am on a new mission for the rest of my life,” he said.
Both low voter turnout in Newport Beach and money spent on campaigns caused the results to split how they did, Glenn explained.
“Dollar for dollar, we did far more with far less,” Glenn said. “I just wish I could have collected more in donations and that more people turned out to vote – but many people sat at home because they liked neither of the presidential choices. Nothing I can do about the last one.”
It also was affected by “big money” getting involved in the local politics and that residents vote for each district, rather than citywide, Glenn said.
“As I have said for many years, we need to get the dark money out of politics by creating district-based elections (where Jeff [Herdman] would have defeated me soundly, so this isn’t sour grapes about our race). I think he would agree that all three of those things are true, and would look forward to his support in taking this critical action to prevent ‘Big Money’ from buying out elections in our beautiful beach town.”