The race for Long Beach mayor and the odd-numbered council districts is beginning to heat up, with five new candidates looking to unseat incumbents. For non-council seats such as city attorney, prosecutor and auditor, however, the incumbents are thus far unopposed.
Current Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia filed an intention statement (Form 501) to run on April 19. Garcia is nearing the end of his first term as mayor after having served as 1st District councilmember and vice mayor. In 2014, Garcia defeated nine other candidates to win the seat as mayor.
At press time, Garcia had two challengers: Phillips Bonaparte, who filed June 23; and James Henry “Henk” Conn, who filed to run on Sept. 22.
Bonaparte told the Signal Tribune via email this week that he was born in West Los Angeles and has lived in LA County his whole life, having lived in Long Beach with his wife since 2011.
“If elected, my intentions are to represent both the government by the people and the people of the community as a whole,” Bonaparte wrote in an email. “I intend to act as the city head for ceremonial purposes, enforce the law, end fraud, stop corruption and do my job duties to its fullest, along with managing all the city departments like gas and oil, health and human services, sanitation and recycling, police department, Environmental Services Bureau, fire department, Public Works and other traditional city services. I also intend to veto anything that infringes on the people’s rights and cut unnecessary spending. I have come to really love this city, but it’s currently doing horrible across the board and is not going in a right direction. I feel my actions can put this city back on the right track going forward into the future.”
Conn, who said he was raised in Long Beach and teaches for the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), has a master’s in social work and a bachelor’s in psychology.
In an emailed response to the Signal Tribune this week, Conn said he is focusing his campaign on bringing rent control to Long Beach.
“Gentrification, which Mayor Garcia wholeheartedly supports, has led to skyrocketing rents,” Conn said. “Families who previously were able to afford a clean, safe environment, are being pushed out of the city. Workers are not seeing their salaries rise with the cost of living. Investment in Long Beach is wonderful, but this has to be coupled with sensible rent control as they have done in several major metropolitan cities, thus allowing the young, the workers and the retired to remain in the city they love.”
Garcia was succeeded as 1st district councilmember by Lena Gonzalez, who is also seeking a second term to represent the city’s district that encompasses the downtown area. At press time, she was unopposed.
In council district 3, Suzie Price has some competition in her effort to regain her seat as councilmember for the district that includes Belmont Shore, Naples and Cal State Long Beach. So far, her lone opponent is Carmen A. Huxley.
Stacy Mungo, the incumbent in the 5th District, is also seeking re-election. Her opponent at this time is Rich Dines.
The only candidate for the 7th District council seat so far is incumbent Roberto Uranga, who announced his campaign kickoff during a June 1 fundraiser at a business in his district.
Incumbent Rex Richardson got an early start in filing paperwork to seek re-election to the 9th District council seat. He will face off against Mineo Gonzalez, who has worked as a state auditor for the California Department of Health Care Services for the last 16 years and as a substitute teacher for LBUSD for over 10 years. In an emailed response to the Signal Tribune, Gonzalez said he graduated with a bachelor’s in accounting from Cal State Fullerton and he owns a home in north Long Beach.
“I have lived in north Long Beach for 37 years and am no stranger to the problems that the 9th district is facing,” Gonzalez wrote. “We have always needed and lacked real leadership in this district. The $70,000-plus war chest that Richardson is amassing is obviously for a run at mayor in four years or another political office. Either way, I doubt he will have the 9th district’s best interest on his mind during the upcoming term. This district needs to start going in the right direction and shed the negative images that the rest of Long Beach has of it. I am not interested in having a politician use this city council seat as a stepping stone for their political aspirations. I am running for this office because I want my kids to grow up in a better and safer 9th district than I did.”
Closer to City Hall, the non-council incumbents are working to secure their seats.
Charles Parkin is seeking another term as city attorney, Laura Doud is running again for city audtitor, and Doug Haubert is seeking re-election as city prosecutor.
Parkin filed to seek a second term on July 13.
Doud, who has already served three four-year terms as city auditor, filed paperwork Sept. 27 to run again.
“It is a privilege to serve the citizens of Long Beach as their city auditor,” Doud wrote in a statement announcing her campaign last month. “I am grateful to be in a position to provide recommendations to make this great city even better. We have achieved a great deal over the last 11 years, however there is always work to be done to ensure the City is collecting all revenue due, safeguarding assets and spending responsibly. I am committed to making positive change by providing solutions to improve City operations and services for Long Beach citizens.”
Haubert, in an emailed response to the Signal Tribune, said he is proud of what his office has accomplished but changes in the law and other trends are making it harder to keep violent criminals behind bars. He cited the innovative programs his office created to reduce gang violence and keep kids in school, including the three-part Gang Prevention Strategy that was awarded grant funds from the US Department of Justice because it is considered a model for other cities. It was the first time such funding had ever been granted to the City Prosecutor’s Office, Haubert said.
“In 2016, our Community Service Worker (CSW) program was recognized as the Best Neighborhood Program in America by Neighborhoods USA,” Haubert said. “Programs like CSW save taxpayers money, while cleaning our parks and beaches and reducing court congestion.”
He added that, by working with others, his office has maximized sentences for serious and violent offenders while at the same time creating innovative court diversion programs for low-level crimes.
Long Beach residents interested in running for one of the open seats can find more information about the requirements and process at longbeach.gov/cityclerk/elections/election-home-page.
The primary nominating election in Long Beach will take place on April 10, 2018.