By Will O’Neill, Newport Beach City Council Member
You don’t elect your mayor. Instead, your mayor is chosen by the city council each year, rotating only among them. But you can change this system and make sure your mayor is directly responsible to you.
Ballots hit the mailboxes this week and the last question gives you the power to demand that accountability. The question is simple and straightforward: “Will the Newport Beach city charter be amended to provide for the direct election of the mayor?”
Directly elected by you, the voters. Not only will you have a direct vote, but it also means the mayor will be directly responsible to you.
The power currently rests with the city council. If you vote yes, the power to elect your mayor is yours. Just like the ballot question itself, your vote is as simple as that.
Interestingly, there is opposition to this direct democracy from a political action committee that has changed its name a few times. The PAC started out as “No Elected Mayor”, which is exactly what the band advocates. Literally, they don’t want you to elect your mayor.
After paying a political consultant thousands of dollars, they changed the name of their PAC to “Stop The Power Grab”. You may have seen their signs littering our public sidewalks, medians and shrubbery.
Residents repeatedly asked, “What takeover?”
What takeover indeed? At present, the power rests with the municipal council. When Measure B passes, the power will belong to the voters. It is the seizure of power that they want to stop.
This same group sent their first mail a few weeks ago, which has been completely debunked. In a recent debate, in fact, the advocate against your vote for your mayor agreed that the statements on the mail weren’t technically true. He then said, “I’m sorry. It was a postcard. You only have a certain amount of space.
This is no excuse for inaccuracies. Inaccuracies such as the assertion that Measure B “would require a huge increase in the mayor’s budget that would cost Newport Beach taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.” On the contrary, there is no such requirement for such expenditure in Measure B.
Inaccuracies such as claiming that Measure B would create an “elect king”. Or that the mayor would have “full control of our municipal government”. These claims are not only false, but patently false.
In his unbiased analysis posted on our city’s website, the Newport Beach City Attorney clearly stated that the mayor would simply be “a voting member of council” and that “at any meeting of council, three members of council would have the discretion to add an element to a future program.
This is not a “strong mayor” system, nor does it diminish the voice or role of council members. However, this forces the mayor to be directly responsible to you because you are the one who elects the mayor.
Last week, the opposing PAC set out to denigrate a bipartisan issue by appealing to rank partisanship by sending out a letter claiming Measure B is ‘a Republican power grab’ that would ‘diminish Democratic representation’ .
Not only is such a claim false, but we should reject efforts by the opposition PAC to delegate a unifying issue to the denunciation of the blue state.
Instead, let’s go back to the question voters will answer on their ballots: “Will the Newport Beach city charter be amended to provide for the direct election of mayor?”
We voters should choose our mayor. Vote Yes on B.
For more information, please visit www.ElectOurMayor.com.
Hon. Will O’Neill currently serves on the Newport Beach City Council and served as mayor in 2020.