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Newport Beach


Letters to the Editor

We have inherent rights, and one of those should be voting to elect our mayor

I’ve heard some rather odd rumbling around town that even though the people don’t have the right to directly vote for our Mayor, this system “isn’t broke so we don’t need to fix it.” This suggests that our system was whole and right to begin with. But when the government holds back power away from the people – especially power as basic as selecting our city’s leader – then it’s an inherently broken system from the start. 

It’s time to vote to take back our rightful vote by voting “yes” on Measure B. 

Second to mothering my son, my absolute favorite job was teaching high schoolers about civics. It usually only took a few minutes in the first class to incentivize them to care and then we were off to the races with theories, concrete examples, and debates. Oh debates – the best part of it all because it not only showed what and how they were thinking but showed how much they cared. Our most basic question to answer was: what is the role of government? 

The government – according to the Enlightenment values our country was founded upon – is to bring order and protection to our basic individual rights of life, liberty and opportunity. We as individuals have powers and rights that are inherent in being humans. We release some of our individual powers over to the government because there are some circumstances in which a collective power structure better oversees the intersection of all our rights and powers. 

However, the government doesn’t have the same inherent right to power that the people do; its power comes from the consent of the people only when the individual power of the people can’t reasonably balance our rights with the rights of others. In sum, the people are presumed to have inherent powers and the government receives its limited powers from the consent of the people when necessary. 

Currently, the people of Newport Beach do not have the power to directly elect our mayor. We elect the 7 council members who then vote amongst themselves each year who will be our mayor. 

This is an unnecessary governmental power that should rightfully be in the hands of the people. Who is supporting keeping power in the government instead of with us; a small, politically active (read: few but loud) group with disproportionate influence in local politics whose power would be disrupted if we took our rightful vote back? 

We are a vibrant city that garners attention nationwide. We should have a direct say in who represents us as our mayor. By voting “yes” on Measure B, we are directly voting for our mayor and directly voting for our own inherent rights as the people of Newport Beach. 

Vote to vote, my friends. 

Erin Clark 

Newport Beach

Caution to the potential impact Measure B might have

This morning’s (4/26) Stu News starts with an article by Tom Johnson about Measure B. He opens by saying he likes Will O’Neill and considers him a friend but then goes on to explain why he ultimately is against Measure B. I completely agree with him for all the reasons he outlines and several more. 

It shouldn’t be about whether someone likes O’Neill or not but instead, what is the potential impact this change in electing a mayor would bring to our great city. One person having more power, the potential to give wealthy individuals more control because they will bring big dollars to campaigns, reducing districts from 7 to 6 are all reasons residents should be concerned. 

These reasons and more are why so many former council members, mayors and residents are against B. Vote no on B.

Mike Groff

Newport Beach 

Newport Beach

Lessons from Westminster for Newport

In June, residents in Newport Beach and Westminster, two cities in Orange County, will vote on mirror-image changes to their city charters.

In Newport Beach, voters will consider whether the mayor should be directly elected, for a four-year term, renewable for another four years, with considerable control over city policy. In Westminster, which has long had a system of direct election of the mayor, residents will consider something like the Newport Beach system, in which the five members of the city council would select each year, from among themselves, one person to serve as ceremonial mayor for the next year.

Many residents of Westminster are tired of their strong-mayor system, in which contentious city council meetings often last past midnight. The city council is so busy bickering, as Voice of OC has reported, that the city may well have to declare bankruptcy.

Among the points on the Westminster ballot, in favor of changing to the Newport system, are that it would “STOP potential corruption and abuse of power by politicians who hold the title of mayor for too long,” and “ALIGN Westminster with 26 other cities in Orange County who appoint their mayor annually” and “increase the likelihood that the mayor will have local government experience as a Westminster councilmember before serving as mayor.”

These are all good arguments, reasons why Westminster should change its charter, to provide for a one-year mayor selected by the city council. They are also reasons why Newport Beach should NOT change its charter – should retain its current system in which the city council selects a one-year ceremonial mayor.

It is striking that nobody, not even the current mayor of Westminster, submitted an argument against the proposed change to the Westminster charter to be printed on the ballot. It seems that, in Westminster at least, there is a consensus that a powerful, directly elected mayor is not a good idea.

Of course, larger cities, such as Anaheim, Irvine, and Santa Ana, generally have directly elected mayors. But according to the 2020 census, Newport Beach and Westminster are of similar size: 85,239 people in Newport Beach and 90,911 people in Westminster.

Some might argue that the ethnic composition of Westminster is different than Newport Beach, so that Newport Beach (even if it changes its charter) would not face the problems that Westminster has faced. This is a dubious if not racist argument. People are people. Good government systems draw out the best in people; bad government systems draw out the worst. If Newport Beach changes to the Westminster system, the odds that it will start to see the problems from which Westminster has suffered in recent years.

The current system in Newport Beach has worked well and should not be changed. Surely Newport Beach should learn from Westminster and not rush to change its charter in a way that has not worked there. Please join me in voting NO on Measure B in Newport Beach.

Walter Stahr

Newport Beach

 

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