Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster issued a statement Tuesday, July 16, announcing that he will not seek a third term. Since Foster is finishing his second term in office, he would have had the option of running as a write-in candidate.
Citing a need for time to pursue “private opportunities” such as writing, studying and spending time with family, which he characterized as the most important of the three, Foster said it was not without some regret that he was making the announcement.
Although he identified these personal matters as his reasons for not seeking a third term, and he did not state outright that he would campaign for a different seat, there was a hint that another political quest may be on the horizon for Foster. After extending appreciation to those who have encouraged him to attempt these personal endeavors while simultaneously serving a third term, he stated that a mayor could not serve well with distractions of a personal or future-political nature.
“Many people have urged me to continue and encouraged me that I can do all these things in a final term,” he stated. “But, in truth, the job of mayor as I know it requires and deserves full attention and focus. You cannot do the job well if you are distracted by either private pursuits or a vision of the next political office you want to hold. It is my obligation to the people of this great city to make that honest assessment.”
Foster also emphasized that his announcement is in no way a dismissal of his duties for the balance of his incumbency. “None of this is meant to say my work here is done,” he stated. “I have one year nearly to the day in my term, and I plan to be vigorous in serving the remainder of my tenure giving you full measure until my last hour in office.”
Following Foster’s announcement, 5th District Councilmember Gerrie Schipske, who is one of four contenders so far in the race for the city’s mayor in the 2014 election, released a statement Tuesday. “I join residents from throughout Long Beach in saying ‘thank you’ to Mayor Bob Foster for his many years of public service,” Schipske stated. “Although we haven’t always agreed on every issue, no one can question Mayor Foster’s commitment to our city. I look forward to continuing to work with him throughout the remainder of his term to improve our local neighborhoods, and I hope he will find ways to continue to advocate for our region after he leaves office.”
In addition to Schipske, four other candidates have thus far announced their intention to run for mayor of Long Beach: real-estate investor and former NFL player Damon Dunn; Long Beach Vice Mayor Robert Garcia; Long Beach Unified School District Boardmember and lawyer Doug Otto; and nonprofit education program owner Jana Shields, who has twice run for the 1st District Council seat.
In an emailed response to the Signal Tribune’s request for a statement regarding Foster’s decision, Vice Mayor Robert Garcia said, “Mayor Foster had been an incredible leader and friend. He and [Foster’s wife] Nancy have made our city a better place, and I look forward to working with them in the future.”
It wasn’t until about two hours after Garcia sent his reply that he issued another email with a subject line of “I Have a Big Announcement.” In the email was a brief statement and a link to a YouTube video in which he announced his candidacy for mayor. (See sidebar on page 1. )