Over the course of a few months, Long Beach residents will decide the fate of five council districts. In November, voters will choose the new councilmember for the city’s 1st District in a special election. Next March, voters will return to the polls to choose from a growing list of candidates for the even-numbered council districts.
After former 1st District Councilmember Lena Gonzalez vacated her seat in June to serve in the state senate, candidates are seemingly emerging week-by-week to lead the Long Beach district that has a population of 49,117, according to the city’s district map. The city clerk’s office stated that an official declaration of the 1st District vacancy is expected in July, when the exact date for a special election will be decided upon.
Confirming his 1st District candidacy on June 24, Ray Morquecho, a small-business owner and former member of the State Board of Equalization, is leading his campaign on the issue of public safety, also emphasizing other matters like the environment, homelessness and parking. Morquecho declined to state his party affiliation.
Mariela Salgado – a Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine commissioner and a local small-business owner – announced her intention to run for the vacant seat on June 19. Salgado, a Democrat, stressed in her announcement the urgent need to address unemployment rates, poverty and homelessness in the 1st District
On June 7 and June 8, respectively, Mary Zendejas, a member of the Long Beach Transit Board of Directors, and Elliot Gonzales, a former member of the Long Beach Sustainable City Commission, announced their 1st District candidacies.
As previously reported by the Long Beach Business Journal, Zendejas is focusing on improving public transit systems, affordable housing and tenant protections, and ADA accessibility. Gonzales, a Democrat, is focusing on a green platform, emphasizing renewable energy. He is also leading on affordable housing.
After the 1st District seat is decided, Long Beach residents will jump back into an election March 3, 2020, when the even-numbered districts of 2, 4, 6 and 8 will be defended by incumbents Jeannine Pearce, Daryl Supernaw, Dee Andrews and Al Austin, respectively. The passage of Measure BBB last November allows Long Beach councilmembers to run for a third term.
Challenging Pearce are candidates Jeanette Barrera and Robert Fox. After initially competing for the 2nd District seat, Richard Harrison, president and CEO of New Life USA, confirmed with the Business Journal that he is no longer seeking office for personal reasons.
Pearce’s objectives, if re-elected, include environmental efforts to reduce energy consumption, strengthening the San Pedro Bay Ports’ Clean Air Action Plan and focusing on economic development.
Barrera, a Democrat, seeks to address affordable housing, homelessness and parking for 2nd District residents. She has a background in social services.
Fox, a Democrat, is basing his platform on transparency, addressing the city’s land use element and parking. Fox also expressed concerns about street safety, particularly the Broadway Corridor, from Alamitos Avenue to Redondo Avenue.
Supernaw, an independent, is currently running unopposed for his 4th District seat.
Vice Mayor Andrews is a registered Democrat and said he is seeking to continue his work creating jobs, promoting city park programs, improving public safety, providing public infrastructure improvements and improving communication with 6th District residents.
Steve Meng, a business consultant with the Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment in Los Angeles, is running for the 6th District seat, with plans to represent the Cambodian community as well as to address economic development, infrastructure improvements and create job opportunities.
Suely Saro, an adjunct faculty member at the School of Social Work at California State University, Los Angeles, is seeking the 6th District position with a focus on the local economy, maintaining safe neighborhoods and creating a clean environment.
Craig Ursuy, a Democrat, is an adjunct associate assistant professor at Santa Ana College. In his 6th District campaign, Ursuy said he will emphasize job development, an area in which he feels Long Beach has underperformed, particularly the 6th District. Ursuy also aims to address housing and homelessness.
Incumbent Austin is aiming his efforts at continuing to improve the 8th District’s economic development and housing, increasing park space and emphasizing public art and culture in the community.
On June 26, Juan Ovalle, co-founder of People of Long Beach and founding board member of the Long Beach Reform Coalition, announced his intention to run for the 8th District seat. Ovalle’s top priorities are public safety, environmental health and governmental reform.
In her campaign announcement in February, Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, executive director of the non-profit Los Angeles Local Initiatives Support Corporation, said her work allows her to finance and build thousands of affordable-housing units in Los Angeles County and stated her intent to engage with the Long Beach community about improving the 8th District neighborhood. She co-chaired Long Beach’s “Everyone In” Economic Inclusion Policy Task Force in 2018.
Although candidates may be registered with a particular political party, the Long Beach City Council is a non-partisan body. Some information from campaign websites and press releases was used in lieu of direct responses, as certain candidates did not directly answer the Business Journal’s inquiries by press time. Some candidates did not specify their political party.