Women’s Democratic Club Candidates Forum

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The OASIS Senior Center in Corona del Mar provided the backdrop for the Newport Beach Women’s Democratic Club’s candidates forum for Newport Beach City Council and Newport Mesa Unified School District Board of Trustees on September 15, 2016.

The hall was full (estimated attendees about 60) and most of the candidates and challengers were present. 

The City Council candidates shared much laughter and good humored bantering as they vied with each other while keeping the tone cordial.

The group present included, Brad Avery for District 2, Jeff Herdman and Mike Glenn for District 5, and Phil Greer and Fred Ameri for District 7. All the candidates brought their own brand of energy and passion to the discussion.

Candidates Lee Lowery for District 5, Will O’Neill for District 7, and Shelley Henderson for District 2, unfortunately declined to attend, so we could not evaluate their personalities and interests.

The audience was much taken by Mike Glenn’s dedication to restoring a business friendly Council without being beholden to developer interests. He is a small business owner who has support from assorted local businesses as evidenced by his campaign disclosure information on the City Clerk’s website.

Fred Ameri provided much needed humor to the proceedings with his frank opinions on the current political climate and the nature of the discourse between the current City Council. Fred, a long term resident of Newport Beach, took issue with the alleged practice of block voting practiced by members of Team Newport (the group of candidates that won some seats on the City Council in 2014) in a most amusing manner.

Brad Avery, the most recent entrant into the race for District 2, described his background as a Newport Beach native growing up on the beach. He heads the Sailing Program at OCC and his concerns are with restoring the condition of the sea wall and water condition in Newport Bay.

Jeff Herdman is running in District 5, along with Mike Glenn and Lee Lowery. He is a retired educator who has served as Superintendent of a school district and has lived in Newport Beach since the 1950s. His concern is about variances to the General Plan that was adopted by the public in 2006. The lack of civil discourse on the Council was also an area of concern for him.

Similarly Phil Greer (candidate for District 7 along with Fred Ameri and Will O’Neill) felt that newcomers to Newport who did not fully understand the nature of the City and its residents should not be responsible for making local decisions. As Phil says so eloquently, if you do not have some sand between your toes and the seaweed in the trunk of your car, you do not really know Newport Beach.

The incumbents and candidates for NMUSD School Board exhibited a slightly different tone than the City Council candidates. Area 3 trustee Martha Fluor, is being challenged by Amy Peters, Dana Black Area 6 Trustee faces challenger Leslie Bubb, and Vickie Snell of Area 1 is opposed by Michael Schwartzmann.

 Each of the incumbents started their Board careers in the 1990s except for Snell who was appointed to fill the position of a retiring Board member in 2014.

Much of the concern of challengers Amy Peters and Michael Schwartzmann appeared to be around the SWUN math curriculum adopted by the District for elementary level mathematics education. The effectiveness of this program was questioned by the challengers and defended by the incumbents. Ms. Peters also had concerns with the condition of the school facilities which she felt had deteriorated significantly since her days as a student at Mariner’s Elementary School. Ms. Black took exception to this comment, pointing out all the capital improvements the District had been making over the past several years.

Thanks go to all the candidates that participated in the Forum and shared themselves and their opinions with the community.

 Saboohi Currim

Newport Beach Women’s Democratic Club

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