Three seats on the Newport Beach City Council are up for grabs this November and five candidates are in the running to represent their district.

The current council has been pushing back against state mandated housing goals that would have the city zone for close to 5,000 new homes — a task that city officials and council candidates have said is unattainable. This is one of the many issues candidates will have to deal with if elected.

District 2 Race

Incumbent Brad Avery will be squaring off against Nancy Scarbrough, owner of an interior design firm, to represent the district.

Avery has raised over $64,000 for his campaign this year while Scarbrough has raised close to $40,000 — $17,000 of which she contributed to her own campaign, according to campaign finance disclosures.

At a candidate forum in September held by Speak Up Newport, a nonpartisan citywide resident group, Avery said one of the most important issues in the district is traffic through neighborhoods. 

“I’m committed to protecting property values and property rights. We must continue to support small businesses, we must be vigilant against airport noise and pollution, maintain clean waterways, reduce traffic congestion and modernize Newport harbor,” said Avery, stating the reasons why residents should vote for him.

“I will continue to oppose and minimize the impacts of the state’s misguided housing policies which threaten our quality of life with major density increases,” he added.

At the same forum, Scarbrough said one of the biggest issues is the state mandated housing goals. 

“Right now the Housing Committee is looking at places to put high-density, low-income housing, and they’ve got their eyeballs peeled for a lot of areas in West Newport, which are now industrial,” she said. “We’re going to have more traffic and more problems with the infrastructure that goes along with all of that.” 

On Scarbrough’s campaign website she promises to concentrate on resisting the housing mandates, addressing noise and pollution issues that have to do with John Wayne Airport, as well as oppose short-term rental expansion in the city.

District 5 Race

In this district, Councilman Jeff Herdman is looking to keep his spot on the council while restaurateur and business owner Noah Blom is hoping to unseat the incumbent.

Herdman has raised over $38,000 for his campaign this year, while Blom has raised over $62,000. Blom has received contributions from property managers, real estate investors and developers, as well as restaurant owners, according to campaign finance disclosures.

Blom has been endorsed by current Mayor Will O’Neill as well as Councilmen Duffy Duffield and Kevin Muldoon. He is also backed by the Newport Beach Police Assn., Newport Beach Fire Assn., and the Newport Beach Short-Term Rentals Assn.

Council members Joy Brenner and Diane Dixon are backing Herdman and so is Michelle Steel, member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Scarbrough has also endorsed Herdman.

Blom does not support a cap on short-term rentals in the city while Herdman does. Herdman believes the city should more aggressively enforce coronavirus restrictions while Blom does not.

Herdman, in his candidate profile, asked for the district’s vote so he can continue to work on issues of homelessness, the state mandated housing goals as well as “revitalizing the economy.”

“I would say that quality of life issues as they relate to John Wayne Airport and the takeoff procedures is probably the biggest issue affecting the people in district five,” Herdman said at the Speak Up Newport forum.

Blom said in his candidate profile that he will support public safety officials, “work to improve city infrastructure” and “support the success of our local businesses during these challenging times.”

“We are in a recovery, we need to get back to business,” Blom said at the forum as to why residents should vote for him. “We’re going to constantly be building to get what we need out of our independent businesses so that we can find the strength this city needs to stay on the right path.”

District 7 Race 

O’Neill is running unopposed in this district.

“The reason to vote for me this year would be the steady leadership that came during an incredibly difficult time and the very quick reaction to partnering with our local health partners like Hoag hospital, to amplify their messages, and also to follow the health recommendations that were coming from the state and county health care agencies,” O’Neill said in an interview. 

The mayor is backed by the Lincoln Organization of Orange County, the Newport Beach Police Assn., and the Newport Beach Firefighters Assn.

He is also endorsed by fellow council members Duffield, Avery, Muldoon and Dixon, county Supervisors Steel and Don Wagner, as well as Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes. 

O’Neill has raised over $65,000 this year for his campaign, according to campaign finance disclosures.

Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him at or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.

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