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Wu: Newport's district elections are puzzling

June 16, 2012|By Jack Wu

Referring to IRS laws and regulations, the senior partner in my former accounting firm once told me that you complicate to deceive, simplify to tell the truth. Keep that in mind.

On July 16, anyone who wants to run for one of the three seats on the Newport Beach City Council can pull papers. These nomination papers and declarations of candidacy need to be turned in by Aug. 10 to qualify for the November ballot.

Because Newport is divided into districts, the seats up for election are District 1/West Newport (Councilman Steve Rosansky is termed out), District 5/Balboa Island (Councilman Ed Selich is running for his second full term) and District 7/Newport Coast (Councilman Keith Curry is running for reelection).

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While the candidates run in districts, anyone in the city can vote for them. This is not a good plan.

Imagine if Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) and Newport businessman Bob Rush, both running for the 74th Assembly District (Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods and Irvine) had to appeal to voters in El Cajon.

Santa Ana and Seal Beach run in districts, but residents can only vote for their district's candidates. That's also true of bigger cities, like Long Beach and Los Angeles.

Newport loves being different.

Run in districts, vote at large. Complicated.

And I know the next question on your mind: Has anyone ever won a council seat without winning his or her district?

In 2008, Rosansky did just that. In fact, he received more votes from District 6 (Corona del Mar) than the total number of votes cast in his home, District 2.

Back to the 2012 elections. Selich and Curry definitely know more about the city than any challenger could, so they will face no serious contenders.

I'm not talking about the person who is going to run a "spirited" grass-roots, quixotic campaign and spend less than $1,000. I'm talking about the really serious, $100,000-in-the-campaign-bank-account types.

Anyway, Selich and Curry will easily be reelected.

In District 2, with Rosansky termed out, the city will have the excitement of an open seat election.

Open seat = excitement.

Running against an incumbent = futile and ridiculous.

But here is where everything fizzles.

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