By Heather Posey, Staff Writer
Protecting the quality of life in Long Beach by increasing awareness of the neighborhood performance of officials. That is the mission of Neighborhoods First, a non-partisan political action and information organization launched earlier this year. And through looking at the pro-community actions of elected officials and electoral candidates and holding them accountable to their agenda, the group states they aim to not only make their own inner communities a better place, but to satisfy the 460,000 other residents of Long Beach as well.
With 50 square miles of families and businesses consuming the fifth largest city in California, Neighborhoods First came into existence wanting to bring together the individual neighborhood organizations to go beyond disjointed areas and become one general city population.
“We were from several neighborhood agencies and felt like there was no central activist,” said Neighborhoods First Vice Chair Joe Sopo. “There was no lobbyist representing every neighborhood.”
Chair Mike Kowal agrees.
“Long Beach neighborhoods have been neglected for far too long. Public safety, infrastructure improvements and quality planning decisions are important to our city’s future,” said Kowal.
Neighborhoods First has made significant strides since their launch six months ago to let residents know what is going on in the communities around them. With nearly every district becoming represented by a member of the organization, the group has made appointments to meet with council members and is in the works to create scorecards of members for residents to rate.
“We want to get a handle on what council members do and what they should do,” Sopo said. “We’re coming from the position of the neighborhoods, and we’re advocating for the neighborhoods.
With a growing web-only membership of 100 members, Neighborhoods First is still in its infancy as a political action group but hopes to establish regular meetings to further connect with the community in which they live.
For more information on Neighborhoods First, contact Mike Kowal at (562) 595-1255 or visit www.lbneighborhoodsfirst.org.