Newport's Incumbent Joy Brenner Wants to Increase City's Workforce

Newport's Incumbent Joy Brenner Wants to Increase City's Workforce
Boaters cruise in Newport Harbor past Mama's Comfort Food and Cocktails restaurant in Newport Beach, Calif., on September 8, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Sophie Li

As a Newport Beach resident of nearly 60 years, Joy Brenner said that “I've lived here since I was 15 ... I've seen our little town grow and for some reason, I was always interested in city government.”

Brenner, who was elected to the Newport Beach City Council in 2018, is seeking reelection of her seat representing District 6—which includes Corona del Mar—in the upcoming Nov. 8 election.

She said her previous experience as a councilwoman will be helpful when dealing with complex city businesses, some of which take time to solve.

(Courtesy of Joy Brenner)
(Courtesy of Joy Brenner)

“I had all this knowledge that I didn't have four years ago,” Brenner told The Epoch Times. “I came in ... with a list of problems that I was going to solve, and then to find out you can't just solve them that easily,” she said, commenting on sober living homes and homelessness in the city.

She said a new councilor’s four-year term is often spent just getting up to speed.

“It was just unbelievable how much more there was to learn,” she said. “If I quit now, somebody else has to learn all of this.”

Campaign finance disclosure documents show she has raised over $45,000 since January this year.

Running against her is Lauren Kleiman, businesswoman and Newport Beach planning commissioner.

Looking Forward

Brenner said that building affordable housing would be one of her main focuses if re-elected.

According to state housing law, nearly 5,000 new units are required for Newport Beach by 2029, and 2,800 need to be affordable.

When the city meets that goal, she said, she plans to use the housing to attract more workers to the city, especially first responders.

“Almost none of our public servants live in Newport Beach. Some of them live two hours away in Temecula, and some of them commute from out of state,” she said.

She said such leaves the city vulnerable in the event of a natural disaster.

“If there is a major earthquake or tsunami or something in the middle of the night, we know we would kind of be on our own,” she said.

Though the city has recruited many volunteers to fill those roles, it is still crucial, she said, to have officers and firefighters who live nearby.

“We have a lot of volunteers but the people that are actually responsible and know how to operate all the equipment and everything, [they] don't live in town,” she said.

Other infrastructure also needs to be addressed, she said, as the city’s housing stock increases.

“It's important that we figure out how the traffic is going to work,” she said. “[Also,] where's the water going to come from for all these people?”

Issues in the City

Brenner said she has experience working with the state on issues that are beyond city control, for example, water infrastructure and supply.

“We need to talk and work with everybody throughout the state and throughout the nation on that problem because it's not something we can just solve at Newport Beach,” she said.

Brenner said homelessness in the city is a concern; however, it will take more than the city’s effort to solve.

“The people that you see that are homeless now are basically people that don't want to be housed,” she said. But “it's not fair for those people to let them suffer. Because we say you have the freedom to suffer if you want to.”

She mentioned the new CARE court proposal—the state's first court-mandated mental health and substance abuse treatment program—that Gov. Newsom signed into law on Sept. 14 could likely bring more hope to solving the homeless issue.

“It was a bipartisan project. Everybody realizes we are not going to solve this problem in the current system,” she said.

She also said she’s looking forward to Newport Beach’s City Council having a better representation of the public’s interests.

Before she decided to run for the city council four years ago, she said she believed that having people talking to the city council would solve problems, but said that many councilors close themselves off during public comment.

“They're not going to listen anyway,” she said. “I'm looking at the [councilors] that are just open to solutions or problems and seeing how we are going to solve that in the city. We've had more politicians in our council in the last eight years than we've ever had before.”

“I just want people that love our city and really want to solve the problems and are not looking at demonizing someone else,” she said.

Brenner has also served on the city’s Parks, Beaches, and Recreation Commission and was the director of operations for the Chamber of Commerce. She also co-founded the Corona del Mar Residents Association in 1986.

Additionally, she has worked with the University of California—Irvine raising money for the school of medicine and later with the Hoag Hospital Foundation.

Sophie Li is a Southern California-based reporter covering local daily news, state policies, and breaking news for The Epoch Times. Besides writing, she is also passionate about reading, photography, and tennis.