An unprecedented six of seven council seats will be on the November ballot, and the field already looks interesting.
In three of the districts, two-way races look likely. And while incumbents in the three other seats are uncontested so far, they may not stay that way ? for example, former Councilman John Heffernan resigned in January but is now considering another run for his seat, if the city charter allows it.
"I left work undone. I had to do it [resign] because of the reasons I've said, but I think some of the reasons are squared up," Heffernan said Thursday. His resignation letter said family and work obligations had clashed with the huge amount of time required to serve on the council.
This fall's races will carry big price tags too. The past spending record appears to be $57,652 by Councilman Tod Ridgeway in the 2002 election cycle, but observers expect some races to cost nearly twice that.
For one thing, Councilman Steve Rosansky said, most candidates have begun raising money, and the election is still five months away. Rosansky holds the only seat that's not up for election.
"Some of these races are going to be over $100,000," he said. "I didn't start raising money [in 2004] until August. Leslie [Daigle] started last year."
Daigle, an appointed incumbent, said recently that she's raised more than $50,000. First-time candidate Jack Wu, a controller for a Corona del Mar design firm, plans to raise about $70,000, and he's calling on friends in the GOP to help him.
In this election, voters can expect every issue to come out of the bag.
Development is always big in Newport, but the fall ballot may include parts of the city's general plan update as well as Greenlight II, a measure that would put more voter controls on new development projects and essentially gut the general plan update.