Early hopefuls throw in hats for state, mayoral elections in 2014

Sean Belk
Staff Writer

Although the next election for city and state offices isn’t until next year, political contenders in Long Beach have already advanced campaigns in recent weeks.
Tonia Reyes-Uranga, a Democrat and former Long Beach City councilmember who represented the 7th District from 2002 to 2010, has recently formed a campaign-finance committee and filed a statement of intention to run in the 2014 election for a chance to represent the newly drawn 70th Assembly District, according to the California Secretary of State website.
Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal is now termed out after winning a third two-year term in the November 2012 election against Martha Flores-Gibson, who has announced her intention to run for the Long Beach 3rd Council District.
Reyes-Uranga, who has launched a campaign website, may run against 4th District Long Beach City Councilmember Patrick O’Donnell, also a Democrat, who has also filed paperwork to form a campaign-finance committee in a potential bid for the same assembly seat. Since O’Donnell was re-elected to the City Council last year, he would ultimately leave an open council seat if elected to the state legislature.

Patrick O’Donnell

Patrick O’Donnell


Tonia Reyes-Uranga

Tonia Reyes-Uranga


Democratic 9th District City Councilmember Steven Neal, who will come to the end of his first term next year after being elected in 2010, has also filed paperwork to form a committee to raise money in a potential run for the 64th Assembly District, which is being vacated by Assemblymember Isadore Hall in November 2014.
Neal told the Signal Tribune that he will decide whether he will run for a second term on the City Council or the state office by the end of the year. Neal has filed paperwork to form an exploratory committee to examine the viability of running for the state office. Also in the race for the 64th District is Carson City Councilmember Michael Gipson and Compton Unified School District board member Micah Ali.
“I’ve loved the work on the City Council, and I think we’ve made tremendous strides in helping to improve quality of life for residents of north Long Beach, and there’s still a lot more work to be done, but at the same time, there are also challenges in the state,” Neal said. He added that, if elected to state office, he would work to keep business in California through economic development measures and invest in improving highway and water infrastructure.
According to the California Secretary of State website, the declaration of candidacy period for all state offices is from Feb. 10 to March 7, 2014, and the statewide primary election will be held June 3.
In a phone interview, Reyes-Uranga said she wants to get the word out early, hoping to bring a boost to women representatives in Sacramento.
“It’s a great opportunity with an open seat to represent a district I’ve lived in for well over 50 years,” she said. “I think it’s a good time.”
Reyes-Uranga said her political objectives so far include reforming education and developing job opportunities in the 70th District, which includes Catalina Island, Long Beach, San Pedro, Signal Hill and the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. “It’s a tough time for working families right now,” she said. “I would love to work with the assembly members there and the governor to build job creation by transforming the way the educational system works… It’s important for us to keep our business strong, including at the ports.”
With experience serving on the governing board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, Reyes-Uranga said she also plans to make the environment a top priority.
“I’ve never been known to be very quiet,” she said. “I would love to be up there since there are such monumental changes going on in the State of California.”
Reyes-Uranga added that she expects more candidates to enter the race depending on whether Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster decides to run as a write-in for another term next year in the April 8 primary election. Although Foster has not announced his candidacy, four other candidates have stepped up to the plate, including, in the order in which they have filed: Damon Dunn, former NFL player and real-estate development firm owner; Jana Shields, a career linguist and educator; 5th District Long Beach City Councilmember Gerrie Schipske; and attorney and Long Beach City College Trustee Doug Otto. All four hopefuls have filed intention statements and have formed campaign-finance committees.
So far, other candidates who have filed intention statements for city offices in the primary election next year include: 7th District Long Beach City Councilmember James Johnson running for a second term; incumbent Doug Haubert and Rosemary Chavez running for city prosecutor; Jason Aula running for the 1st Council District; Daniel Haro running for the 3rd Council District; and Joseph Luyben running for the 5th Council District.
According to the City Clerk website, if there are no incumbents, all potential candidates have until Jan. 10, 2014 to file an intention to run. ß

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