First-time candidate favors economic development

Twelve-year trustee with school district calls Beach and Edingers Corridors Specific Plan a key area of revitalization.

September 01, 2010|By Michael Miller,
  • Matthew Harper
Matthew Harper (HB Independent )

Matthew Harper, a first-time Huntington Beach City Council candidate, has been involved in politics in some way — and often several ways at once — since he graduated from USC.

In addition to 12 years as a trustee with the Huntington Beach Union High School District, he's represented the Republican Party at the state and county levels and served the last three years as a policy advisor to Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen.

As a councilman, Harper said, he would make economic development a top priority. He identified the Beach and Edinger Corridors Specific Plan, a mixed-use plan that the council approved in March, as a key area of revitalization for the city. He favors the senior center in Huntington Central Park and the proposed Poseidon desalination plant.

And though he favors development, Harper, a Realtor until taking the job with Nguyen, said one of his key priorities is ensuring that the city spends money responsibly.


Harper has sometimes been at odds with his school board colleagues.

He has opposed two bond measures — most recently in 2004, when he gave a thumbs-down to Measure C, a $238-million campus renovation effort approved by voters, because he felt it lacked proper oversight and a reserve for repair and replacement.

Two years ago, he was the only trustee voting in favor of mandating a Bible-as-literature elective course in the district curriculum. He also took a one-man stand in 2003 in favor of changing the district's dress code to allow more religious-themed apparel.

In the early part of the decade, he was the sole trustee opposed to denying school transfers to white students in an effort to prevent white flight in the interest of maintaining "racial balance," in the schools — a policy the district eventually abandoned.

But after more than a decade as an elected official, Harper considers himself a uniter more than anything.

"On the school board, I make an effort to talk to people on campuses," he said Friday while taking a short break from precinct walking. "That includes students, teachers, other staff and classified employees, principals.

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