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Curry: We must change Sacramento

Mayor turned candidate for Assembly outlines how successes seen in Newport can be applied at the state level.

December 05, 2013|By Jill Cowan

By the time Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry announced his candidacy for state Assembly on Thursday morning, the emails of support had been pouring in — about 30 or 40 in the past 24 hours, he said.

In a speech at the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce's monthly Wake Up! Newport breakfast event, he aimed to garner a few more.

"It's really been a transformational year for Newport Beach," he said, citing the completion of the Civic Center and the negotiation of an extension of the John Wayne Airport settlement, which is expected to keep curfews and passenger caps in place for decades.

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The city's finances will end the year in fine shape, Curry said, with nearly $130 million in reserves. Newport expects to finish the year with a $12.7-million budget surplus, made up of about $7 million more revenue than expected, and $5 million fewer than expected expenditures.

During his most recent yearlong tenure as mayor, Curry added, he's worked to cull the city's code for obsolete laws and to streamline operations.

Now, Curry said, he would need the community's help to "take the success of Newport Beach and apply it to the state we all love."

He mentioned a possible rise in crime as a result of statewide prison realignment as one pressing problem facing the state, and said he would collaborate with other legislators toward pension reform.

In Newport, Curry said, contract negotiations with city employees haven't been marked by the kind of animosity and vitriol seen in other cities. If elected to represent the 74th Assembly District, he said he would aim to bring the tone employed in Newport to the state.

Curry told the audience that many of the city's infrastructure projects, such as parks and other development projects, have been stymied by state regulation.

"In order to address all of the issues that face our city, we must change Sacramento," he said.

Asked whether he was concerned about the possibility of being elected from the Newport council to state office — a transition few city officials seem to make — Curry said his experience as president of the Assn. of California Cities Orange County, as well as president of the Orange County Parks Commission, has shown that he can lead on a regional level.

Furthermore, he added, his work fostering "bipartisan dialogue" in building a board for Concordia University's Center for Public Policy proved he could work across the aisle.

At the end of his talk, Curry had convinced at least one listener.

Steve Rosansky, chamber president and Curry's former council colleague, stepped forward to close the event.

"I'll be the first to publicly endorse you," he said.

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