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Long Beach Election 2014 Campaign Heating Up

George Economides - Publisher's Perspective

March 26, 2013 - Gerrie Schipske has been running for one office or another for much of the past three decades. She’s had failures and she’s had successes, the latter highlighted by her victory in 2006 for a seat on the nine-member Long Beach City Council and an easy reelection win in 2010.

Now she’s aiming for the Gold Medal in Long Beach: Mayor of one of the most diverse cities – in both population and industry – in the country. Minorities are now the majority: Whites make up less than 30 percent of the 462,257 residents (2010 Census). Not many cities have a port, airport, health department, water department and oil and gas department, making governing even more challenging.

In one year, on April 8, 2014, voters go to the polls to pick a mayor, city attorney, city prosecutor and city auditor, and representatives for Council Districts 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9. There may also be one or more City Charter proposals on the ballot. All in all, the next 12 months may prove to be one of the more interesting – and very possibly one of the most combative – political campaign years in the city’s history.

While Schipske’s announcement places her at the top of the mayoral pack as far as name identity and involvement in the city – much more than either of the other two announced candidates, Damon Dunn and Jana Shields, the field is far from settled. The biggest question has not been answered. What will Mayor Bob Foster do? The two-term mayor is considering a write-in campaign for a third term but has yet to publicly lean one way or the other. His decision – either way – is a game changer for all mayoral candidates.

Schipske, who represents the 5th Council District (Northeast Long Beach including the Long Beach Airport) said, in a statement, she is running because, “Long Beach deserves a Mayor that’s committed to fixing local problems and moving our great city forward. I am running for Mayor to create quality local jobs, protect our quality of life, and make City Hall more efficient so we can keep our kids safe by putting more police on our streets and expanding after school programs.”

As evidenced by that statement, there is no love lost between Foster and Schipske, who have often disagreed – sometimes vehemently during city council meetings – on issues and processes.

Schipske’s toughest battle may be fundraising. A run for mayor is costly and increases in cost with each candidate announcement. Raising upwards of $500,000 will prove very difficult for her. But don’t underestimate her chances. She’s determined, she’s strategic in her approach to campaigning (she calls the shots, not an expensive campaign manager), she knows the day-to-day issues that are important to the average voter and she knows the advantages of social media – her website was up and running at the same time she made her announcement, and the website is a good one.

Within a few days, she posted 10 stories from 10 media outlets about her mayoral run. Schipske has a strong following in her own district, and during the past nearly seven years on the city council has gained citywide attention through her many special events and projects, and as an author of three books. For more information about her background, visit her website.