Newport Beach City Councilwoman Leslie Daigle (R) is challenging incumbent Orange County Water District (OCWD) Board Member Steve Sheldon (R) in Division 5 of the OCWD, according to the OC Political blog.
“The water board has lost its way,” Daigle told the Daily Pilot, of her decision to seek the Division 5 seat, currently held by Steve Sheldon.
She pointed to what she described as the board’s frivolous and costly lawsuits and the board’s pursuit of a power plant near a residential area in Anaheim.
“The water district shouldn’t be the ‘lawsuit district’ or the ‘power plant district,'” she said. “The drought requires us to get back to the basics.”
Daigle has served on the Newport Beach council for 10 years, during which time she was an advocate for completion of the Upper Newport Bay ecological restoration project. She was appointed to the council in 2004 and has served the maximum two four-year elected terms.
The incumbent, Sheldon, stopped practicing law in 2014 and is now inactive according to the California State Bar Association. For some reason his OCWD bio states he is an attorney – and while he might have a juris doctorate degree he is not allowed to practice law in California. According to his Linkedin page, Sheldon is the owner of Sheldon Group and Sheldon Development, LLC. He earned an AA degree at Santa Ana College and a degree in political science at USC.
Sheldon is the son of the notorious ultra-conservative Rev. Louie P. Sheldon, who is the chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, which has been classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.
The water district board’s Division 5 includes parts of Newport Beach and Irvine. Daigle said the mayors of both cities have endorsed her.
Serving her second term on the council, Daigle is a driving force for sound fiscal policies, public employee pension reform, support of the city’s entrepreneurs and risk-takers, effective service delivery, and protection of the city’s coastal and bay waters for both environmental and economic reasons.
As a member of the council’s Finance Committee, she has advocated budgetary actions that balance the competing demands of residents, employees and taxpayers. Daigle worked with her colleagues in a struggling economy to achieve a balanced budget that cut year-over-year spending, produced $90 million in reserves, and earned a rare and coveted AAA credit rating from the three major national rating agencies. The city has been negotiating a larger pension contribution from its employees.
Concurrently, the city reworked its approach to service delivery and imposed new priorities that have improved productivity, kept libraries and senior centers open, and maintained public safety response times. Daigle has pushed infrastructure improvements including roads, traffic signal synchronization, and the installation of a privately run state-of-the-art parking meter system that has significantly increased parking revenues. One of Daigle’s highest policy priorities has been to reduce urban runoff and improve the water quality of Newport’s iconic bay and beaches. She was the council’s lead advocate for coordinated state and federal funding to complete the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Restoration Project, and dredging of the main bay to significantly improve navigability and water quality.
The quality of education in her city has been a concern to Daigle, and she serves as the council’s liaison to local schools to improve coordinated municipal support for traffic, public safety and infrastructure issues that impact schools. Daigle is a graduate of the University of Denver where she studied Natural Sciences, and the Denmark International Study Program at the University of Copenhagen. She recently completed the Woman & Power: Leadership for a New Generation program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
For the past sixteen years, she has been a government relations representative for private industry. She is a Republican.
In 2010, she was #6 on the Daily Pilot’s list of the 103 Most Influential People in Newport Mesa. Wrote the Pilot:
…Daigle took the high road in an election year when many others did not. She was unflappable during her reelection campaign. She cares about the environment, realizing that the ocean and bay are her city’s greatest assets. But she is also fiscal- and business-minded and is earning a reputation for transparency and accessibility among the press. She’s also tougher than early detractors expected.”