I made the FRONT PAGE!

Not sure you care, but I made the front page of the Orange County
Register newspaper while I was up with you guys!

FYI

http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/news/homepage/article_1371626.php
or
http://tinyurl.com/y4wbnh

Page 1, Saturday, December 2, 2006

Huntington gadfly airborne

A man who goaded elected officials is now one of them.
By JENNIFER MUIR
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Meet the new Norm "Firecracker" Westwell.

You might not recognize him in the new suits he just bought at the
Men's Wearhouse. That's because Westwell was more of a flip-flops and
tie-dyed shirt kind of guy.

He's hanging with a new crowd, too. They're the ones he used to taunt
monthly on a podium about the Fourth of July and PowerPoint
presentations and government spending at Huntington Beach City Hall.

Now they're rubbing elbows at public events. Because that's what
politicians do.

After seven years of running for every public office he could – from
challenging Sen. Tom Harman for state Assembly to vying four times for
a spot on the Huntington Beach City Council – Westwell has finally
graduated from activist to politician.

Starting this month, he'll be one of five members of the Ocean View
School District board. It only took him three tries to get the job.

Why the school board? Well, because getting his name – including the
nickname "Firecracker" – on the ballot required only one signature:
his own.

And because "in the back of my mind, I kind of felt like if I'm at
this long enough, I eventually will be elected to something," he says.

And he's not going to ruin the opportunity with casual clothes and
politically incorrect speeches.

"I can't do that now that I'm an elected official," he says. "People
would think I'm a screwball. And public perception is important. It's
important that people's leaders look like leaders."

Still, there's no way Westwell is giving up his nickname – no matter
how screwball it sounds. Because being called "Firecracker" represents
the whole reason he got involved in politics to begin with.

Let's back up to 1999. Westwell is sitting in his living room with his
kids – Matt, now 15, and Alexis, 12 – telling stories about growing up
in Huntington Beach, when he and his friends used to light fireworks
on the beach on the Fourth of July.

"Well, Dad, why can't we do that now?" the kids ask.

And Westwell wonders, "Yeah, why can't we do that?"

So he takes the question to City Hall.

"I think it's important," he says. "It's a right that has been taken
away from us. A piece of liberty being taken away in a lifetime. It's
a dumb issue, but a signature issue for me."

Westwell didn't stop with the one issue. He kept showing up at City
Council meetings.

"I had a political awakening," he says. "I kept seeing bad things
happening, and every time I tried to call the city, they'd redirect me
to someone who cared even less. I was feeling frustrated."

So he decided to run for the City Council in 2000.

His first step: to find help.

Westwell, who runs his family's sportswear manufacturing business, has
been a card-carrying Libertarian since he was 18, around the same time
he toured the country by hopping freight trains.

He thought the party might be able to help him get elected, so he
searched the Internet for Libertarian meetings where he could plead
his case.

"I'm disenchanted with my government, and I want to run for political
office," he told them.

They couldn't help much, but they did teach him a couple of lessons,
such as having a long name on the ballot increases your votes. (He
doesn't know why.)

So that first year, he tried to sign up to be on the ballot under the
name Norm "Incumbent" Westwell. The city clerk flipped through an
election book and shook her head.

Nope, it's against the rules.

So he went with "Firecracker" instead – a name another activist gave him.

"I thought, I'm a type of firecracker, a go-getter," he says. "And I
never had a nickname."

By now, Westwell is pretty good at running a campaign. But during
those first years, he had a lot to overcome. First, public speaking
terrified him. So he went to Toastmasters.

"And I decided I was going to go to speak during public comments at
City Council and work my way through my fear," he says.

It started working.

For example, one year city staff members gave a PowerPoint
presentation about a project Westwell didn't support.

Westwell asked why he wasn't allowed to show a fancy PowerPoint
presentation to illustrate why the project was bogus.

After lots of negotiating, the city relented and bought a laptop for
people to use during public comments.

And they do. At almost every council meeting.

"Sometimes his Libertarian views are out there a bit and we tune him
out, but a lot of the time he brings a fresh perspective that is
certainly worthy of consideration," says Dave Sullivan, the city's
outgoing mayor.

Westwell's political career moved in baby steps. That first year, he
walked away with only 2 percent of the vote. And until this year, he's
never topped 10 percent.

Early on, he knew he'd never make enough money to compete with
candidates spending tens of thousands of dollars on their election
campaigns.

So he started "sign harvesting." He noticed that other candidates
would collect and throw away their signs after election season. So he
offered to do it for them as long as they let him keep the signs.

Then he made a stencil and bought some spray paint.

And his signs look legit. He's got 100 or so huge ones and at least as
many small ones.

"I just harvested a whole boatload!" he says. He didn't print the
office he was seeking on the signs. "I figured: Find me on the ballot."

Now that enough voters – 53 percent – finally did find him, Westwell
is determined to make his time in office count.

It's not just the suits. He's been poring over agendas, and this week
he's attending a seminar on how to be a school board trustee.

Still, he wonders whether he'll enjoy being a politician.

"Getting elected was never the ultimate goal to me," he says.
"Changing society and reining in out-of-control government, waking up
people and getting them involved is."

He will have at least one outlet: Fireworks are still illegal in
Huntington Beach.

And after seven years, he has invested more than just time and energy
fighting the issue.

See, every year since the first time Westwell spoke out about
fireworks, he has marched to City Hall to tell council members he's
looking forward to getting arrested when he and his family set off
safe and sane explosives.

And he never does.

"I'm not stupid enough to buy a bunch of fireworks, especially since I
go down to City Hall every year," he says.

But this Fourth of July, when Westwell's son was sitting forlorn on
the curb watching neighbors set off fireworks, someone asked him if he
wanted to join in.

And he did.

Right in front of a Huntington Beach cop.

The ticket cost Westwell $250.

"And it was worth every penny," he says.

Dear Norm,

Of course we care! Congratulations! It was a pleasure seeing you and
John Briscoe last Thursday.

Regards,

Marcy

Not sure you care, but I made the front page of the Orange County
Register newspaper while I was up with you guys!

FYI

http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/news/homepage/article_1371626.php

or
http://tinyurl.com/y4wbnh

Page 1, Saturday, December 2, 2006

Huntington gadfly airborne

A man who goaded elected officials is now one of them.
By JENNIFER MUIR
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Meet the new Norm "Firecracker" Westwell.

You might not recognize him in the new suits he just bought at the
Men's Wearhouse. That's because Westwell was more of a flip-flops

and

tie-dyed shirt kind of guy.

He's hanging with a new crowd, too. They're the ones he used to

taunt

monthly on a podium about the Fourth of July and PowerPoint
presentations and government spending at Huntington Beach City Hall.

Now they're rubbing elbows at public events. Because that's what
politicians do.

After seven years of running for every public office he could – from
challenging Sen. Tom Harman for state Assembly to vying four times

for

a spot on the Huntington Beach City Council – Westwell has finally
graduated from activist to politician.

Starting this month, he'll be one of five members of the Ocean View
School District board. It only took him three tries to get the job.

Why the school board? Well, because getting his name – including the
nickname "Firecracker" – on the ballot required only one signature:
his own.

And because "in the back of my mind, I kind of felt like if I'm at
this long enough, I eventually will be elected to something," he

says.

And he's not going to ruin the opportunity with casual clothes and
politically incorrect speeches.

"I can't do that now that I'm an elected official," he says. "People
would think I'm a screwball. And public perception is important.

It's

important that people's leaders look like leaders."

Still, there's no way Westwell is giving up his nickname – no matter
how screwball it sounds. Because being called "Firecracker"

represents

the whole reason he got involved in politics to begin with.

Let's back up to 1999. Westwell is sitting in his living room with

his

kids – Matt, now 15, and Alexis, 12 – telling stories about growing

up

in Huntington Beach, when he and his friends used to light fireworks
on the beach on the Fourth of July.

"Well, Dad, why can't we do that now?" the kids ask.

And Westwell wonders, "Yeah, why can't we do that?"

So he takes the question to City Hall.

"I think it's important," he says. "It's a right that has been taken
away from us. A piece of liberty being taken away in a lifetime.

It's

a dumb issue, but a signature issue for me."

Westwell didn't stop with the one issue. He kept showing up at City
Council meetings.

"I had a political awakening," he says. "I kept seeing bad things
happening, and every time I tried to call the city, they'd redirect

me

to someone who cared even less. I was feeling frustrated."

So he decided to run for the City Council in 2000.

His first step: to find help.

Westwell, who runs his family's sportswear manufacturing business,

has

been a card-carrying Libertarian since he was 18, around the same

time

he toured the country by hopping freight trains.

He thought the party might be able to help him get elected, so he
searched the Internet for Libertarian meetings where he could plead
his case.

"I'm disenchanted with my government, and I want to run for

political

office," he told them.

They couldn't help much, but they did teach him a couple of lessons,
such as having a long name on the ballot increases your votes. (He
doesn't know why.)

So that first year, he tried to sign up to be on the ballot under

the

name Norm "Incumbent" Westwell. The city clerk flipped through an
election book and shook her head.

Nope, it's against the rules.

So he went with "Firecracker" instead – a name another activist

gave him.

"I thought, I'm a type of firecracker, a go-getter," he says. "And I
never had a nickname."

By now, Westwell is pretty good at running a campaign. But during
those first years, he had a lot to overcome. First, public speaking
terrified him. So he went to Toastmasters.

"And I decided I was going to go to speak during public comments at
City Council and work my way through my fear," he says.

It started working.

For example, one year city staff members gave a PowerPoint
presentation about a project Westwell didn't support.

Westwell asked why he wasn't allowed to show a fancy PowerPoint
presentation to illustrate why the project was bogus.

After lots of negotiating, the city relented and bought a laptop for
people to use during public comments.

And they do. At almost every council meeting.

"Sometimes his Libertarian views are out there a bit and we tune him
out, but a lot of the time he brings a fresh perspective that is
certainly worthy of consideration," says Dave Sullivan, the city's
outgoing mayor.

Westwell's political career moved in baby steps. That first year, he
walked away with only 2 percent of the vote. And until this year,

he's

never topped 10 percent.

Early on, he knew he'd never make enough money to compete with
candidates spending tens of thousands of dollars on their election
campaigns.

So he started "sign harvesting." He noticed that other candidates
would collect and throw away their signs after election season. So

he

offered to do it for them as long as they let him keep the signs.

Then he made a stencil and bought some spray paint.

And his signs look legit. He's got 100 or so huge ones and at least

as

many small ones.

"I just harvested a whole boatload!" he says. He didn't print the
office he was seeking on the signs. "I figured: Find me on the

ballot."

Now that enough voters – 53 percent – finally did find him, Westwell
is determined to make his time in office count.

It's not just the suits. He's been poring over agendas, and this

week

he's attending a seminar on how to be a school board trustee.

Still, he wonders whether he'll enjoy being a politician.

"Getting elected was never the ultimate goal to me," he says.
"Changing society and reining in out-of-control government, waking

up

people and getting them involved is."

He will have at least one outlet: Fireworks are still illegal in
Huntington Beach.

And after seven years, he has invested more than just time and

energy

fighting the issue.

See, every year since the first time Westwell spoke out about
fireworks, he has marched to City Hall to tell council members he's
looking forward to getting arrested when he and his family set off
safe and sane explosives.

And he never does.

"I'm not stupid enough to buy a bunch of fireworks, especially

since I

go down to City Hall every year," he says.

But this Fourth of July, when Westwell's son was sitting forlorn on
the curb watching neighbors set off fireworks, someone asked him if

he