Open Seats Guarantee A Year Of Change
By George Economides - Publisher
December 17, 2013 – Voters will soon learn which candidates are serious about the 2014 Long Beach elections and which ones have simply been looking for free publicity in the local media. The filing period for the April 8 primary opened yesterday, December 16, and runs through January 10. Up for grabs are seats for the five odd-numbered city council districts as well as the citywide offices for mayor, city attorney, city prosecutor and city auditor. Also on the ballot are elections for three school board seats and three seats on the community college district governing board. Runoff elections are set for June 3, and coincide with the California primaries.
It’s a ballot full of open seats and new faces to the local political scene. Change is certain as all five city council districts are guaranteed new representatives – the largest turnover of city councilmembers since the district election system came into play more than 20 years ago. Also certain are that there will be a new mayor and a new city attorney from those elected in 2010.
If everyone who has indicated they are running for local office does file – and meets the criteria established by the city (which includes obtaining 20 signatures of registered voters within the district for which they are running; filing a form 700, which is a statement of economic interests; and paying the $210 filing fee) – the field would look like this:
• 9 candidates for mayor;
• 3 for city attorney;
• 2 for city prosecutor;
• 5 candidates for Council District 1;
• 7 candidates for Council District 3;
• 4 candidates for Council District 5;
• 5 candidates for Council District 7;
• 2 candidates for Council District 9; and
• Unsure of how many candidates there are for the school district board and the college district board races.
Many community members who follow local politics have been voicing their predictions for months as to who wins and who is headed for a runoff, but the fact is, most of the open seats are up for grabs. At the close of the filing period, voters can expect five strong candidates for mayor, four of whom are current elected officials, and two strong candidates for city attorney. The mayor’s race seems destined for a runoff. The most intriguing city council races should be the 3rd and 5th Districts. Neither district has a candidate with a high profile, or who is easily recognizable to voters. We expect a June runoff for both districts.
With voter turnout expected to be low for all races, money and endorsements should be major factors in the outcomes. But how much money each candidate has raised won’t be known until the next filing period, which is January 31.
Low turnout also strengthens the hand of two city unions: police and fire, which historically have been very active in getting their candidates elected. Their ability to provide volunteers to assist with a candidate’s race, and their financial wherewithal to issue independent expenditures, makes the police and fire unions the most coveted endorsements in the city.
Another Candidate Enters The 3rd District City Council Race
Susan (Suzie) Price, an Orange County homicide prosecutor who lives in the Alamitos Heights Community of the 3rd District, announced last week she is running for city council. A 23-year resident of the city, she is a 1994 graduate of California State University, Long Beach, where she served as student body president. She and her husband, Mark, have two children.
In a statement announcing her candidacy, Price said, “I am running for city council because I want to bring energetic and imaginative leadership to our community. I want to help build a future in which we can raise our children in a community that is safe and gives them opportunities to thrive in a competitive educational and professional environment . . . I intend to focus my priorities on public safety, supporting business growth and creating jobs and maintaining a fiscally responsible city government.”
The Long Beach Commercial Real Estate Council is hosting a mayoral debate from 8-10 a.m. on Friday, January 10, at The Grand, 4101 E. Willow St. The cost, which includes breakfast, is $35. The event is open to the public. For more information or to reserve space, visit: www.LBCREC.com. The top five mayoral candidates have confirmed their attendance: Damon Dunn, Robert Garcia, Bonnie Lowenthal, Doug Otto and Gerrie Schipske. Brian Russell, past president of the real estate council, is the debate moderator.
Another mayoral debate is scheduled 6:30-8:30 p.m., Thursday, January 16, at the Houghton Park community center in North Long Beach. Groups involved include the Deforest Neighborhood Association, North Long Beach Community Action Group, Central Project Area Council, Houghton Park Association, South Street Community Watch and others. For more information, send an e-mail to: email@example.com.
The YES WE CAN Democratic Club has scheduled a mayoral debate from 7-9 p.m. on Friday, February 28, at the First Congregational Church, 241 N. Cedar Ave. in Downtown Long Beach. The event is free. To register, go to: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/long-beach-mayoral-candidate-debate-registration-9036714055?aff=eorgf.
• The Sierra Club has endorsed James Johnson for the office of Long Beach City Attorney
• Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nury Martinez has endorsed Lena Gonzalez for the 1st District City Council seat.
• 5th District City Council Candidate Carl Kemp has been endorsed by three former Long Beach Police Chiefs: Robert Luman, Anthony Batts and Frank McCoy.
• The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge 1930 (IAM) has endorsed Robert Uranga for the 7th District City Council seat.
• The Teachers Association of Long Beach has endorsed Rex Richardson for the 9th District City Council seat. He has also been endorsed by six California locals of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the California Coalition of Law Enforcement Associations.
• The Long Beach Police Officers Association (POA) and Long Beach School Board President John McGinnis have endorsed Megan Kerr for the 1st District seat on the Long Beach School Board.
• Ten members of local school boards from across the state, including Felton Williams of Long Beach, have endorsed Uduak Ntuk for the 1st District seat on the Long Beach School Board.
• The Long Beach Firefighters Association and the Long Beach POA have endorsed Juan Benitez for the 3rd District seat on the Long Beach School Board.
• Congresswoman Janice Hahn, the IAM Local Lodge 1930 and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 11 have endorsed Sunny Zia for the Long Beach Community College District 3 race.