Imagine if Long Beach held an election and no one got a chance to vote.
It’s possible, and it could happen as soon as next April. The city’s primary is set for the four citywide seats – mayor, city attorney, city auditor and city prosecutor – and five city council posts – the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th District representatives.
All nine incumbents have either announced they’re seeking reelection or will soon make it official.
Zip for the citywide seats. The odds are very high that Mayor Robert Garcia, City Attorney Charlie Parkin, City Auditor Laura Doud and City Prosecutor Doug Haubert will run unopposed, guaranteeing each another four-year term without campaigning or receiving a stamp of approval from the voters.
Among councilmembers, only one person – in the 3rd District – has filed an intent to run. “Intent” is not the same as actually running – which, among other requirements, includes a filing fee. If this person is a serious candidate, they will file the paperwork necessary to form a campaign committee and raise money.
The filing deadline to “officially” run is not until January 12, but let’s face it, if one is going to mount a legitimate challenge to an incumbent, he or she would have already been campaigning for months, created a campaign committee, sent out press releases to maximize news coverage and raised money – lots of it.
So, yes, accountability be damned, we just might have an election next April 10 where not one of the city’s nearly 275,000 registered voters has a voice.
Incumbents will certainly be angling for money to build up a war chest. Here’s some advice to voters: Put away your checkbook. Don’t donate unless the incumbent has a challenger. An elected official with integrity will not pressure you to donate.
And a note for incumbents, specifically to city councilmembers, who are the ones setting policies for all residents and business owners: Don’t assume getting a free ride is the same as “you’re doing a good job.” There is a long list of issues that have irked constituents, including tax increases, crime, homelessness, street/sidewalk repair prioritization, union issues with hotels, project labor agreements, code inspections, rental housing policies, the rejection of international flights, and the minimum wage (you knew the state was going to act, but you had to push it anyway, causing a lot of anxiety among the small business community that you all claim you support).
If it were up to me, incumbents without challengers would still have to face the voters. “Do you support or oppose (name of incumbent)? Check the yes or no box.”
You need 50% plus one to stay in office. The majority still rules!
(Note: Next edition: It’s time to be able to vote for more than one councilmember.)