Seventh District Long Beach Councilmember James Johnson announced Wednesday, Sept. 4 that he will run for the office of Long Beach city attorney. Johnson, who was elected in June 2010 for his current seat on the Council, acknowledged that he is committed to finishing his first term, but he also expressed a desire to serve the city in a different capacity.
“I’ve been thinking about it and talking to my family,” the 7th-district councilmember said in a phone interview, “and I realized that the city attorney is a really good position where I can do the greatest good for the entire city of Long Beach.”
Former City Attorney Robert Shannon retired last July, one year shy from the end of his elected term. The Council appointed Charles Parkin to act as Shannon’s successor for the remainder of his term. Though Parkin hasn’t officially announced his candidacy, the City’s election website indicates that he has filed paperwork for the position of city attorney.
Johnson stressed his qualifications for the job and highlighted his background as an attorney and former responsibilities as an assistant city auditor in addition to the last few years as a councilmember. He also touted his role in a major revision of the city’s charter.
He stressed fiscal prudence and talked about how he helped close pension loopholes when he served as an assistant city auditor. He linked the importance of fiscal prudence to the role of city attorney since that office is charged with protecting the city’s resources.
Johnson expressed confidence that there are a number of qualified candidates in his north Long Beach district who could continue the work he started. He emphasized the importance of providing core services from the police, fire and libraries, as well as street and sidewalk maintenance. When asked what projects he hoped his successor would continue, Johnson named the Willow Springs Park, which has already opened its first phase, and the green belt planned for Wrigley.
During his tenure as an elected city official, the councilmember has already faced some controversy. About two years ago, a group of residents launched a campaign to recall him from office. It’s not clear if there was one main reason why the group wanted to recall him, but some issues included his stance on Port expansion regarding its impact on the community and a heated controversy over how to draw district lines. The campaign ultimately failed after organizers did not get the financial support to gather enough signatures for the petition.
Johnson says that he has plenty of supporters who have asked him to run for city attorney. He says he also plans to talk to residents about the importance of the city attorney position.
“I want to be a proactive city attorney [who] goes to the community,” Johnson said, “who talks to them about their hopes and their dreams, who discusses how he can use the power of that office to make everyday life better for all these residents.”