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Newport Beach

Volume 8, Issue 11  |  February 7, 2023Subscribe

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Questioning the council candidates to see what they’re thinking

With less than two weeks until Election Day, Stu News Newport is offering you a final look at the candidates competing for Newport Beach City Council seats for District 2 (Brad Avery vs. Nancy Scarbrough) and District 5 (Jeff Herdman vs. Noah Blom).

We asked each candidate the most important issues facing their Districts and the City as a whole; we asked each how they differ from the opposition; what the “dirt” is on their race; and for a little something maybe you don’t know about each of them.

We hope this helps. Remember, your vote does make a difference.

Questioning the candidates Brad Avery Questioning the candidates Nancy Scarbrough  Questioning the candidates Jeff Herdman Questioning the candidates Noah Blom

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Newport Beach City Council Candidates (L-R) Brad Avery, Nancy Scarbrough, Jeff Herdman and Noah Blom

What is the biggest issue or issues facing your District and how will your handle that? (Limit to 2)

Avery: Development of Mariner’s Mile/Coast Highway. Support community opposition to widening Coast Highway from Dover to Superior. Work with residents to mitigate the impacts of the proposed Mariner’s Mile development. 

Neighborhood traffic and pedestrian/bicycle safety. We need to consider all input. Conduct Newport Heights community traffic survey and workshop to gather information and build consensus on next steps toward safer streets. Continue to work with NMUSD for safer transition zones around the three schools.   

Scarbrough: Representation – We don’t have a voice at this point. District 2 has been the step-child for many years. We are faced with development on Mariner’s Mile that is not in touch with the community vision of what Mariner’s Mile should be or with the General Plan. The West Side of Newport is being explored (by the Housing Element Update Advisory Committee - HEUAC) for high-density, low-income housing. We need a representative on the Council who will speak up for the community’s shared vision. I will be a strong advocate for ensuring housing and community facilities are consistent with the Vision Statement of the General Plan and the Vision Statement for Mariner’s Mile. 

Traffic and Enforcement – these issues are related. When schools are open, we have lots of traffic for short periods of time. At other times of day, the people who drive in the neighborhood do not obey the traffic laws (rolling stops or no stop at all for stop signs, texting on phones or distracted driving). Add to that formula, the new electric bikes, skateboards and scooters that fly through stop signs at 30+ miles per hour, driven by adults, and kids without a license or knowledge of vehicle laws. The process for causing our police department to patrol in this neighborhood and actually enforce the laws by issuing citations, is for the City Council to instruct the City Manager, to instruct the Police Chief to enforce the laws. Right now the Council majority does not have the stomach to do that, so there are very few patrol cars and weak enforcement.

Herdman: John Wayne Airport overflights. Continue to “lead the charge” when it comes to all matters aviation as chair of the NB Aviation Committee.

Business and Tourism Recovery as it relates to COVID-19. Continue to support small businesses by taking advantage of all recovery dollars available and ensuring that these dollars get straight into the hands of business owners. 

Blom: The Airport through a three-part approach: technology, negotiations and publicity.

Small Business Recovery: by supporting the existing and struggling; stimulating the new and future; and strengthening relationships and community. 

What is the most important issue or issues facing the city and how do you stand on it? (Limit to 2)

Avery: Managing the impacts of COVID-19. Support local businesses with code flexibility, grants, loans. Remain vigilant to local COVID-19 trends and adjust outreach accordingly. Support efforts of public safety personnel to inform and protect people in public spaces. Utilize the knowledge of our local health professionals. Manage budget shortfalls with less spending; suspend non-essential projects, search out grants, private support for certain civic improvements. Do not raise taxes/fees.

Scarbrough: Economic Recovery – Restore the community and businesses following the COVID pandemic. We should be actively supporting local businesses. The city had a “Strategic Plan for Fiscal and Economic Stability” in 2009. It is supposed to have an annual review, but of course that isn’t happening. There was also an Economic Development Committee that met between 1993 and 2010. It was disbanded in 2011. It seems like there are steps to be taken here. 

State Mandated Housing Requirements – Fight back against the State mandates for so many high-density housing units. The State housing requirements are unachievable, and the City is spending 1 1/2  to 2 million dollars to look like we are trying to comply. We could focus our efforts on documenting the reasons the requirements are unreasonable, align ourselves with other coastal cities who are in the same boat and serve the problem back to the State with a price tag for what it will take in concessions to comply with the mandated housing.

Herdman: Economic recovery from the effects of COVID-19. The mitigation is careful budgeting and oversight on all expenditures, large and small; placing capital improvement projects on hold; utilization of reserves, if necessary, to assist in economic recovery. 

Blom: Homelessness: collaboration with neighboring cities; cleanliness by upholding our standards; enforcement through maintaining law and order.

Economic Recovery: marketing with more local focus; maintenance by keeping our strength and culture; and growth of our merchants and businesses. 

How are you different from your opponent?

Avery: I am approaching 4 years of experience on City Council. Other experience: 5 years as Newport Beach Harbor Commissioner; 2 years as vice chair and chair of city’s Water Quality and Tidelands Committee. Currently on city’s Finance Committee and Ad Hoc committee on Homelessness. Member, Board of Advocates, Oasis Senior Center.

Scarbrough: I participate by attending most City meetings and community meetings on a regular basis; I have a comprehensive knowledge of issues throughout the City; as a SPON (Still Protecting Our Newport) board member we regularly discuss environmental issues such as the Bay, the Banning Ranch and recently Short-Term Lodging; I am on the SPON Policy and Budget committees, and the Good Neighbor Policy Committee; I attended almost every City Council meeting for the last three plus years; I attended or viewed the live feed of most Planning Commission meetings for the past three years; I attended almost every Finance Committee meeting for the last year; I attended and commented at several Zoning Administrator meetings; I attended all but one of the community outreach meetings for the General Plan update until the Mayor canceled the committee; I attended every public meeting of the new Housing Element Update Advisory Committee (HEUAC) charged with finding property to rezone for 4834 high-density, low-income housing units in Newport Beach. After COVID-19 this will be the biggest issue of 2020 and probably 2021 and no one is talking about it; I attended most meetings of the Aviation Committee; I attended and commented at the Orange County Board of Supervisors meetings regarding the General Aviation Improvement Program; I attended and commented at several Orange County Airport Commission meetings regarding the General Aviation Improvement Program; I attended and commented at every meeting of the Homeless Task Force before it was disbanded; I attended all the public meetings for Newport Beach Election Reform; I attended all the public outreach and Study Sessions for Cottage Preservation and 3rd Floor Massing ordinances; I regularly attended the Corona Del Mar “Good Morning CdM” meetings until they were postponed. I have attended several of the virtual meetings since they changed formats; I participate in the Newport Heights Improvement Association (our HOA) meetings as a member; I am an active participant in the Protect Mariners Mile Coalition; I have attended and commented at NMUSD Board meetings and was very involved in the (failed) effort to save the Ensign trees; I attended every town hall meeting put on by Newport City Council members Joy Brenner, Diane Dixon and Jeff Herdman; I was one of three people to regularly attend the Office Hours with councilman, now Mayor, Will O’Neill until they were canceled or postponed; I have been working at this for several years, attending numerous meetings and events on a weekly basis. No member of the Council or Staff have attended as many meetings as I have. 

Herdman: Experience, institutional knowledge, longevity within the City; leadership training and implementation; really having an overall and in-depth understanding of the issues and priorities of the majority of Newport Beach residents and property owners, and the willingness and ability to devote the time necessary to address those issues and priorities. Serving on City Council is a serious job; I work seven days a week at helping to solve some of our City’s biggest problems. 

Blom: I believe in freedom and the strength of my fellow citizens. I am an advocate for keeping beaches, boardwalks and our town open and thriving. I am an advocate for parents that want their kids to have a childhood and get our schools and playgrounds open. I want to project a message of positivity and excitement. 

What’s been the biggest attack during the campaign against you and how do you counter it?

Avery: My opponent says I’m a nice guy. I am guilty.

Scarbrough: I have heard myself referred to as a liberal. I am moderate in all things. So far I haven’t had anyone attack me personally or lie about me, however we have a few weeks to go. We’ll see…

Herdman: It really has not been an attack, but my opposition claims to have had endorsements from the Newport Beach Fire, Police and Lifeguard Departments. He has corrected that on his website; however, the majority of his mailers continually point to fire and police endorsements.

I did not receive endorsements from the Fire and Police Associations four years ago. I was told at that time that they only endorse “winners.” 

This election season I couldn’t even get the president of the Fire Association to return my phone call for the purpose of meeting. I did meet with the police union president; however, they chose not to endorse me. 

I did not have either unions’ support in my first election, yet I won. I’ll do it again this time!

Blom: Attacks on my family and business. I never thought that a divorce 13 years ago would be part of a political campaign or that an opponent would use a fictional character assassination by a “secret society.” 

I counter these attacks with positivity and strength. They are not who I am, and they do not define me. If I throw mud back then I perpetuate bad behavior and this enduring politics of hate. I will stay on message. I will ignore fiction and continue to fight for the values and love I have for my city. What tears us down only makes us stronger. 

Are you in favor or opposed to the addition of the Harbor Commission to the NB City Charter?

Avery: Very much in favor.

Scarbrough: I am opposed to Measure Z, not because I don’t agree with the concept, but the measure was written without any public input or review and it was presented to the Council in a way that discouraged public comments, so it was as if the authors didn’t want the public to review the language. I think it should be discussed openly and brought back in two years at the next election. The current Harbor Commission, even though it is not codified in the City Charter, is fulfilling all of the responsibilities and duties needed to manage our harbor. No member of the Council or candidates indicate any desire to unwind the duties of the Harbor Commission, so why rush? I don’t see any harm in waiting to have a full public review of the language of this measure to be sure it is written in a way that the public agrees with. 

Herdman: I support the addition of the Harbor Commission to our City Charter. The harbor is the largest asset in our City. It generates a substantial portion of our annual revenue. It needs continual maintenance, upkeep and improvement. The Harbor Commission plays a significant role in the areas of maintenance and improvements. The Harbor Commission also fulfills a critical lobbying role, as well, when it comes to securing state and federal dollars for the needed dredging of our harbor. 

Blom: I am in favor of the Harbor Commission being added to the Charter. 

Politics aside, what’s the one thing you would want the community to know about you?

Avery: I work to consider all sides of an issue, don’t have agendas, and I am open to a good argument. 

Scarbrough: I am a planner by profession, I understand building codes and construction. I’ve held leadership positions since I was a Girl Scout patrol leader in 3rd grade, all the way through being president of the Senior Planning Board for the Girl Scout Council as a senior in high school. I am Informed, Involved and Independent. I am compassionate, a mother and grandmother. Most people label me nice. 

Herdman: I want the community to know that I consider it an honor to have been given the responsibility of governing our City. I thoroughly enjoy being a member of the Newport Beach City Council and carrying out all of the responsibilities involved. 

I look forward to serving the people of Newport Beach for another four years, serving with integrity, hard work, dedication, and love for this City. 

Blom: I love to bake. I do it at the wee hours of the morning and find it to be so meditative and relaxing. Fresh bread when the sun rises can change any outlook on the world. Breaking bread together is what makes community.

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