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Candidate Field Set: 10 Vie For Mayor

City Auditor Laura Doud Only Official Without
A Challenger; In All, 46 Candidates Running Locally

By George Economides - Publisher

January 21, 2014 (Updated 3:44 p.m.) – The field of candidates for the 2014 Long Beach elections has been finalized, with nearly three dozen people qualifying to compete in April for citywide or district seats. Only two-term City Auditor Laura Doud escaped without a challenger. All other city offices have at least two candidates vying for mayor, city attorney, city prosecutor and the five odd-numbered city council districts.

Additionally, there are seven candidates for the three seats on the Long Beach Community College District Board and five candidates for three seats on the Long Beach Unified School District Board. Combined, the April 8 ballot for Long Beach voters includes names of 46 candidates for city offices and education boards. And there’s one city measure: The Marijuana Business License General Tax (refer to separate online article).

Mayoral Candidates

Ten candidates, including four current elected officials, are battling to replace Bob Foster as mayor of Long Beach. The group is headed by current City Councilmembers Robert Garcia (who also serves as vice mayor) and Gerrie Schipske, Long Beach Assemblywoman and former city councilmember Bonnie Lowenthal, and attorney Doug Otto, who is in his third term as a member and past president of the Long Beach City College Board of Trustees.

A fifth strong contender is real estate developer Damon Dunn, who has the backing of some members of the business community, who has been introducing himself around town for nearly a year, and who has contributed considerable money to his own campaign.

Five other filers for mayor have, for a variety of reasons, no chance of winning, but their combined votes could affect the outcome in what is expected to be a close race among the five individuals mentioned above. These candidates are: Eric Rock, Jana K. Shields, Mineo L. Gonzalez, Richard Camp and Steven Mozena.

The top two vote getters in April face off in the June 3 general election. The rest of the city field breaks down as follows:

• City Attorney – Charles Parkin was appointed city attorney following the retirement last year of Bob Shannon. Parkin, who has been endorsed by the Long Beach Police Officers Association, was serving as assistant city attorney at the time. He faces James Johnson, current 7th District city councilmember, who first announced he was running for reelection, then changed his mind to run for city attorney. Among his endorsements is Sheriff Lee Baca. A third candidate is Matthew Pappas, a medical marijuana attorney who has fought Long Beach on marijuana-related issues the past few years. He moved to Long Beach last year.

• City Prosecutor – Incumbent Doug Haubert is being challenged by Rosemary Chavez, who is a city prosecutor in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office. Haubert has strong backing from current and former elected officials, including current Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey. Chavez, according to her website, has focused on prosecuting DUI offenders.

• City Council 1st District – There are four candidates, including Lena Gonzalez, who currently serves as chief of staff for the district councilmember, Garcia. Also running is Ricardo Linarez, who works for 9th District Councilmember Steve Neal. Misi Tagaloa is an ordained minister who finished third with 13.6 percent of the vote in the 2009 special election for the 1st District seat. The final candidate is Pilar Pinel, a former field deputy for then-1st District Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal, and runs the nonprofit group she founded, Embracing Latina Leadership Alliances.

• City Council 3rd District – The district currently represented by Gary DeLong, has attracted five candidates: Martha F. Gibson, who has run unsuccessfully for several elected offices the past few years; Jack A Rosenberg, a commercial real estate broker; James K. Lewis, former president and CEO of the Long Beach Rescue Mission; Stephen C. Bello, also a commercial real estate broker; and Susan Price, an Orange County deputy district attorney.

• City Council 5th District – Hoping to replace Schipske as councilmember for the northeast district are: Joseph D. Luyben, CEO of JDL Packaging Systems; Stacy Mungo, a budget officer for the County of Los Angeles; Carl Kemp, a small business owner who held legislative/public affairs positions with the city and port; and Thomas J. Sutfin, an educator with the Long Beach Unified School District.

• City Council 7th District – Four candidates are vying to replace current councilmember Johnson: Robert Uranga, currently a member of the Long Beach Community College District Board and husband of former district councilmember Tonia Reyes Uranga; Joan V. Greenwood, an environmental consultant and community activist; and Teer L. Strickland, a member of the former Long Beach Redevelopment Agency. A late addition to the field is Lee Chauser, who ran for mayor in 1994 and for state senate under the Peace and Freedom Party.

• City Council 9th District – Councilmember Neal’s chief of staff, Rex Richardson, is one of two candidates seeking the office. The other is Ben C. Daugherty, vice president of the Community Emergency Response Team and a community advocate.

Community College Candidates

Elections are scheduled for three of the five district seats. In the 1st District, incumbent Jeffrey A. Kellogg is up against Marshall E. Blesofsky, a retired university president. Kellogg, a former three-term Long Beach city councilmember, is the current president of the college’s board of trustees. Two candidates are after the open seat in the 3rd District: Stella M. Ursua, a business owner and educator; and Sunny Zia, a civil engineer and educator. The 5th District, also an open seat, features two candidates: Virginia L. Baxter, a retired city college professor and the executive director of the college foundation; and Gregory Slaughter, also a retired city college professor and a former police lieutenant.

School District Candidates

Similar to the college board, elections are scheduled for three of the five school district seats, with one incumbent, Diana F. Craighead, running unopposed in the 5th District. The 1st District has two candidates: Megan M. Kerr, whose ballot designation states “education leader,” and Uduak-Joe “Joey” Ntuk, who lists himself as an engineer, mentor and parent. In the 3rd District, incumbent and president of the board, John McGinnis, has one challenger: Juan Benitez, and college professor.

In Other Local Political News . . .

• Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell announced he is running for L.A. County Sheriff after Sheriff Baca said he would not seek reelection. McDonnell previously served as second in command for the Los Angeles Police Department. A large field is expected and McDonnell has already been tabbed as one of the favorites.

• Contribution limits for local races have been increased by $50 for candidates running for city council, city attorney, city prosecutor and city auditor, according to the Long Beach City Clerk’s office. The new limit for city council is $400, and the new limit for the other seats is $550. The ceiling for mayoral candidates remains at $750. The increases are authorized by Proposition M – the Long Beach Campaign Reform Act – passed by local voters in June 1994.

• The filing fee for all candidates running for a city office is $210. But the fee for including a candidate statement in the official ballot booklet mailed to all registered voters can be steep. For citywide offices such as mayor and city attorney, the cost is $3,252. The statement cost for council district candidates is determined by the number of registered voters in each district. For the 1st District, the cost is $1,071; for the 3rd District, $1,961; 5th District, $1,866; 7th District, $1,550; and 9th District, $1,257.


• A free mayoral debate sponsored by the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters is set for this Thursday, January 23, 7 p.m. at The Grand Long Beach, 4101 E. Willow St. “Straight Talk” host Art Levine serves as moderator. For tickets, visit LALCV’s website at: www.lalcv.org. Garcia, Lowenthal, Schipske and Otto have confirmed; Dunn has a conflict.

• Mayoral candidate Garcia is the guest speaker at the January 28 meeting of the East Anaheim Street Business Association. Noon, Long Beach Playhouse (5021 E. Anaheim St.), optional buffet lunch $12.

• Also on January 28, a mayoral candidate forum is scheduled from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Houghton Park Community Center, 6301 Myrtle Ave. in North Long Beach. The event is free and open to the public. The five leading candidates have each confirmed their attendance.