By Steven Piper
Taking 52.9 percent of the votes, James Johnson won the race for Long Beach’s 7th District, unseating Councilwoman Tonia Reyes-Uranga, who was running for her third term as a write-in candidate. The victory marked the end of a campaign that started April 13, 2009.
Johnson, who is Long Beach assistant city auditor, and his campaign supporters, including Mayor Bob Foster, celebrated their success at Arashi, a sushi restaurant at 3550 Long Beach Blvd., which neighbors his campaign headquarters.
After the victory was announced at 10:43 with 3,408 votes tallied in his favor, Johnson delivered a speech thanking the voters. “At the end of the day it is the voters who determine who governs,” Johnson said. Out of 25,281 registered voters, 25.8 percent cast their ballots.
The vote counts did not include 398 provisional ballots and 353 vote-by-mail ballots, which are counted separately.
Reyes-Uranga garnered 47.1 percent of the vote– 374 votes fewer than Johnson. “Without a system of competition you cannot have the government that we enjoy,” Johnson said. In acknowledging his competitor, he said democracy deserves competition.
A host of significant endorsements supported Johnson’s camp, including Foster and the Port of Long Beach’s longshoremen union. “I had several councilmembers’ endorsements,” Johnson said. “That is very unusual.” Councilmembers Robert Garcia, Gary DeLong, Suja Lowenthal and Val Lerch made appearances at the new councilmember’s party.
Johnson was raised in the 7th District, which includes Wrigley, Bixby Highlands, California Heights, and the Westside, before earning an economics degree from Harvard University.
The assistant auditor’s campaign was based on fiscal responsibility and solving the city’s budget deficit, which is estimated at $18.5 million.