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Patrick O’Donnell files for reelection to Long Beach City Council

December 27th, 2007 · No Comments · News

patrick-o-donnell.jpgBy Nick Diamantides
Staff Writer

Last week, Long Beach City Councilman Patrick O’Donnell (4th District) announced that he had filed for reelection. First elected to the city council in 2004, O’Donnell pledged that he would continue his hard work on the issues that matter most to residents of the city.
The councilman noted that public safety was on the top of his list of priorities. “In the short term, I’d like to get as many police officers on the street as possible while still budgeting responsibly,” O’Donnell said. “We’ve been adding about 10 to 15 new officers a year during the last four years. Clearly we need to increase the number of officers on the streets, but we have to find ways of doing that without creating a budget deficit.”
The councilman did note, however, that increasing the number of police on the street is not the only way to reduce crime in the city. “We need to have more programs for our youth, especially after-school programs,” he said.
O’Donnell, who teaches at Paramount High School, said he has observed that programs offering job training and recreational activities keep teenagers and young adults too busy to become involved in crime.
In another public safety arena, O’Donnell admitted that the city needs to better equip its fire department. “We need some new fire engines, other equipment, and several new fire stations,” he said. “Some of the city’s oldest fire stations were built in the 1920s. They provide cramped and inadequate quarters for personnel and cannot properly house the equipment that firefighters use to do their job.”
He noted that the Long Beach Fire Department has identified four of its stations that must be replaced or significantly expanded immediately, but there are several more that will have to be improved in the near future.
“We also need to replace the aged fire boats in our port,” he said. “Those boats were built about 25 years ago, and were not designed to fight fires on the mega ships that use our port today.”
O’Donnell’s second priority is infrastructure improvements—especially the repair and maintenance of streets and sidewalks. Pot holes, cracked pavement, and sidewalks damaged by tree roots present hazards to motorists and pedestrians throughout the city and are a source of many complaints received by the public works department. The problem is that the city does not have enough money to pay for all the necessary repairs.
“We need to find more efficiencies in city operations to make more funds available for infrastructure improvements,” O’Donnell said. “But we also need to advocate more at the state level.” He noted that he has traveled to Sacramento more than once to make sure that Long Beach got its fair share of Prop 1B money.
O’Donnell stressed that although the city must spend more on infrastructure repairs and public safety, he is not proposing an increase in any taxes imposed by the city at this time. He said he preferred intensifying Long Beach’s ongoing effort to make city operations more efficient. He noted that the city got rid of an approximately $120 million deficit in four years by streamlining operations and more responsible budgeting.
“We have to keep doing that, and we have to become more business friendly in order to increase our revenues,” he said. “We want to encourage more businesses to locate here, but at the same time we have to make sure the businesses do not threaten our neighborhoods or diminish the quality of life that we enjoy here.”
O’Donnell’s stance on protecting the city’s neighborhoods—especially those in the 4th District—was probably one of the main reasons he was elected in 2004. During his first campaign, he pledged to do everything in his power to prevent the Long Beach Airport from increasing its number of allowable flights, which could increase noise and pollution as well as decrease the property values of homes close to the airport.
“My position has not wavered in the last four years,” said O’Donnell. “We do need to modernize the airport terminal, but we must not make it so big as to make it likely that the airlines would file legal challenges to the limits the city has placed on the number of daily flights at our airport.” O’Donnell stated that he was happy with the council’s unanimous decision last May to increase the airport terminal to 89,000 square feet. The terminal currently encompasses 58,000 square feet.
The councilman said that while the city is grappling with several important issues, including plans to modernize the airport, Long Beach is still a great place to live. “I see good things ahead for the city,” he added. “And I look forward to representing the residents of the 4th District for another four years.”
As of press time, no other candidates had filed for the 4th District seat.

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