By Nick Diamantides
With Long Beach’s April 13 primary election for city offices looming on the horizon, candidates are busy trying to get every vote possible. Ten of those candidates showed up last Sunday at a forum sponsored by the Long Beach branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Other than the candidates, only about 18 people showed up for the event, which took place in the community center of Ernest McBride Sr. Park.
City Prosecutor Tom Reeves, who is now running for the position of city attorney, was the first to speak. He reminded the audience that California is now suffering under a failed political system and desperately needs bold leaders in all levels of government to guide it out of its current economic and social morass.
“From the skills that I picked up in the military and as a private businessman, and the skills I developed as deputy city attorney and as the city prosecutor, I know how to get things done,” Reeves said. “I am more innovative and more willing to take calculated risks than my opposition is.” Reeves’s opponent, incumbent City Attorney Bob Shannon, did not attend the event.
The two men who hope to replace Reeves as city prosecutor were also at the forum. One of those, Doug Haubert, spoke first. He explained that he had been a Long Beach deputy city prosecutor under Reeves for a short time but has been a city prosecutor under contract for several other Southern California cities for the past ten years.
Haubert pointed out that he proposes to have the city prosecutor’s office work with the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) to create intervention programs that would steer students away from crime and onto paths that lead to successful careers. “We lose a lot of kids before they are 15,” he said, explaining that too many LBUSD students join gangs.
Haubert mentioned that his commitment to work with the school district has earned him the support of everyone on the LBUSD Board of Education and its secretary, Chris Steinhauser. He also mentioned that there is a long list of locally elected officials who are supporting him.
Haubert’s opponent, Timothy O’Reilly, spoke next. “I am currently the assistant city prosecutor in Long Beach– the number-two man behind Tom Reeves,” O’Reilly said. “Tom hired me after I returned from an overseas military deployment ”
He explained that prior to that deployment he had spent 15 years as a defense attorney in Long Beach, adding that as assistant prosecutor he has continued to seek justice. “We have to protect our citizens, but we have to balance that by making sure that the (accused) individual’s rights are protected,” he said.
O’Reilly also stressed that his familiarity with the intricacies of the office of city prosecutor during several years of shrinking budgets make him uniquely qualified to be the boss of that office. “Being in the office and working with the budget, I understand the priorities that we have to have,” he said
Later in the forum, James Johnson and Tonia Reyes-Uranga explained why they each believe they should be elected to the 7th District seat of the Long Beach City Council. The two other candidates running for that office, Jill Hill and Jack Smith, did not attend the forum.
Johnson said he was running primarily because he believes he is the candidate most qualified to help Long Beach reach its potential as a great city. He noted that he grew up in Long Beach, played in its parks, graduated from Poly High School and spent many hours in the city’s main library. “I want to give back, and that is why I am running for city council,” he said.
He added that as Long Beach’s assistant city auditor he has the skills necessary for effective leadership. “In the next few years, we are going to have serious budget problems,” he said. “My understanding of the budget and the numbers will be a tremendous asset to the City of Long Beach.”
Reyes-Uranga, the incumbent 7th District councilwoman, spoke next. She mentioned that she has served in that position for the last eight years, but, according the City Charter, must run as a write-in candidate if she wants to be elected to a third four-year term in office. “I am running again because we are going to have some real tough times ahead,” Reyes-Uranga said. “When we have tough times, you need tough people, and I think I am one of the strongest voices on that city council for working families.” She explained that the city’s budget is expected to continue shrinking at least through 2012. “I want to be there to ensure that my district gets the things that they need,” she said.
After Reyes-Uranga spoke, Jeffery Kellogg, incumbent Long Beach City College Board of Trustees member for Area 1, explained why he is seeking a third four-year term in that office. “Long Beach City College is a phenomenal asset to this community, and my goal is to maintain that college to take care of the students that come there,” he said. “Many people in this city know me and trust me, and I am going to continue to do what is best for City College and to enhance the Pacific Coast Highway campus.”
Neither of Kellogg’s two opponents attended the forum.
Other candidates that spoke during the event included: City Auditor Laura Doud; 1st District City Council candidate Jana Shields; Mark Bowen, who is running for reelection as LBCC Board of Trustees Member for Area 3; and Dave Hall, who is running against Bowen.