Duty Calls: Get out the Vote Long Beach
By Dianne Anderson
It’s go-time for voters now at just a little over two weeks before the big day.
Long Beach voters still not registered for this historic election may want to step up their civic pace before time slips away.
Monday, October 19, is the last day for online voter registration. Mail it, or better yet, walk it in or slip it into any number of designated drop boxes located at various locations throughout the city no later than 8 p.m. Election Day, November 3.
Erik Miller Long Beach Unified School District Board Candidate
Erik Miller’s daughter, soon to be three years old, isn’t quite ready for school yet, but it’s just a matter of time.
Miller is concerned that he already sees an impact on her development, and he knows that other parents feel the same way.
Students are missing a shared social classroom experience, or not learning how to share through socialization, or experiencing Zoom burnout. About the only thing more concerning than the emotional toll is how schools plan to reopen safely for kids and their families, he said.
The potential for COVID-19 spread is still a threat, and he feels the main priority must be on securing proper protective resources, along with consensus from parents, teachers and classified employees alike.
Long Beach has many multi-generational families living together in small spaces. School leaders are still in the first phase of talks, trying to determine how and when schools will reopen, but he worries that no one is totally clear on plans to meet the safety concerns that all schools must address.
“When they [students return], do they bring it home and interact with their grandparents or their teachers? The first piece is making sure that we have all of the proper safety protocols and the PPE in place,” he said.
Miller distinguishes himself from his opponent as someone who understands the plight of young people in Long Beach, where he grew up, and in the under-served community, which he has served for decades.
“I was one of them. I was in LBUSD, I was in Operation Jump Start, and I had a mentor who saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” he said.
Because of that nonprofit that he started participating with when he was 12 years old, he became the first in his family to go to college. Later, he went on to become the program’s director where he was able to help other kids like himself make it into higher education.
“I very much appreciate that experience and opportunity. I think about all of the kids that didn’t get the opportunity for someone to provide them that additional support and that additional level of affirmation,” he said.
Access to technology is another problem, particularly for some lower-income students that may have hindrances to the internet, or they don’t know how to use their Chromebooks donated to them by the district.
Miller is executive director of U.S.Vets Long Beach, a facility of over 27 acres at the Villages at Cabrillo. He said they serve previously homeless veterans, many who have children in the school district.
When school started, he was surprised to see so many kids leaning against the walls at the facility trying to stream free internet on their first day of school and online classes. While the district has provided many good hotspots to families, he feels more needs to be done to provide safer spaces for kids to access technology.
“They’ve just got these things, they don’t know how to operate these things as well as the households that have already had these [laptops] at home,” he said.
Miller is also the former executive director of PVJOBS, which helps at-risk and disadvantaged youth, adults, and veterans access construction jobs, and other industries. He holds a degree in architecture, and has also served on the City’s GRIP (Gang Reduction Intervention and Prevention) Taskforce as chairman, where he implemented a federal grant to help reduce violence citywide.
MEASURE US – Tax Supporting Health and Services for the Black and Brown communities
As Long Beach voters check off many national, state and local candidates and numerous propositions, they are also considering one local measure calling for a proposed oil tax that will help solve issues of racial inequity.
If passed, Measure US, which has no cost to residents, will provide an estimated $1.6 million funding each year to help the community.
The measure would increase the city’s general purpose oil production tax from 15 cents to 30 cents per barrel. The tax will support community programs in the Black and Brown community to address health inequities, including the impact of COVID-19 on people of color, early childhood education, youth development, and violence prevention, job training opportunities, and air, water quality, and environmental justice programs.
The measure’s widespread local supporters include Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Councilmembers Rex Richardson and Al Austin, Rep. Alan Lowenthal, and Milton Smith, Chair, Long Beach Board of Health, and a Yes on US Co-Chair.
“Measure US is a critical first step in improving the health and wellness of all residents, especially our Black and Brown families, who experience devastating environmental conditions and injustice. We will begin addressing the socioeconomic inequity that exists for young people and provide them with opportunities to take charge of their futures,” states the Yes on US website. “Voting YES provides Long Beach with the funding it needs to start eliminating disparities in our neighborhoods most impacted by institutional racism.”
To learn more, see www.YesonUs.com
To learn more about the voting process, see https://iwillvote.com/
For a long list of easy to understand CA Voter Registration FAQs, https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/frequently-asked-questions
Local Drop Box Locations in Long Beach include:
Bixby Park Community Center (130 Cherry Ave.)
Bret Harte Neighborhood Library (1595 W. Willow St.)
Burnett Neighborhood Library (560 E. Hill St.)
Dana Neighborhood Library (3680 Atlantic Ave.)
El Dorado Park West Community Center (2800 N. Studebaker Rd.)
Freeman Community Center (1205 Freeman Ave.)
Heartwell Park Community Center (5801 Parkcrest St.)
Houghton Park Community Center (6301 Myrtle Ave.)
Long Beach City Hall (411 W. Ocean Blvd.)
Long Beach Senior Center (1150 E. 4th St.)
Marina Vista Park (5355 E. Eliot St.)
Mark Twain Neighborhood Library (1401 E. Anaheim St.)
Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library (5870 Atlantic Ave.)
Ramona Park (3301 E. 65th St.)
Scherer Park (4600 Long Beach Blvd.)
Veterans Park (101 E. 28th St.)