Long Beach: Get Out the Primary Vote
By Dianne Anderson
Voters will rush to cast their ballots in the primaries this March 3 election, or at least that’s the hope for several Long Beach candidates who have thrown their hats in the ring.
Some are seeking to take their new place at the table, or hang tight to their old seats.
Long Beach City Council Candidates – Eighth District
Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, an executive director of a local nonprofit, said that her District 8 neighborhoods have suffered from neglect and a lack of investment.
She said the housing crisis is hitting the community hard.
“We have empty lots and abandoned storefronts that have been that way for years. I believe our community has the potential to improve, but we need to change our leadership first,” Ms. Thrash-Ntuk said.
Thrash-Ntuk has a strong history of community advocacy, asset and real estate development strongly focused on neighborhood revitalization. She said she has dedicated her career to creating great places to live, work, do business, and raise a family.
She has also pushed to develop thousands of affordable housing units along with support for small businesses, and neighborhood revitalization. If elected, she plans to expand economic opportunities by attracting housing to the district’s empty lots and small businesses to open in abandoned storefronts.
A comprehensive strategy is needed, and she said that she has the expertise required to accomplish the district’s goals.
“I will focus on organizing block-by-block to ensure every part of the district gets proper attention from the city, including fixing our streets and sidewalks, planting trees and expanding open space, and increasing public safety resources,” she said.
Incumbent City Councilman Al Austin
Elected to the City Council in 2012 and re-elected in 2016, Austin has paved the way for funding for infrastructure improvement, new economic development in Bixby Knolls, Virginia Village and North Village. He takes credit for championing new housing and over 40 acres of new parks and open spaces within his district.
Austin serves as chair of the City Council’s State Legislation Committee, with a seat on the Budget Oversight, Public Safety, Housing and Neighborhoods, and the I-710 Oversight Committees.
Of his three most pressing issues facing his district, he said that housing and homelessness is a top priority. Long Beach is implementing many of the 29 points in the affordable and workforce housing plan adopted by the Council in 2017.
“We are continuing to invest in the production and preservation of affordable housing units, while also providing a multi-pronged approach of services and housing to address our homeless and at-risk populations,” Mr. Austin said.
The city has also utilized nearly $27 million in federal, state and county funding in the past year to provide prevention services, permanent supportive housing, transitional housing, rapid rehousing, homeless veteran-specific services, Multi-Service Center support, and a new year-round 125-bed shelter, scheduled to open this summer.
But he said job creation and improving economic development remains a top focus. He is looking forward to continuing the work to ensure the Eighth District is the most livable and safest community in the city.
Last year, at Councilman Austin’s request, the City Council also set aside $50,000 for the planning and development of the African American Cultural Center. Meetings are ongoing, and the project is also funded for $50,000 for 2020.
“We must continue to provide opportunities for the creation of well-paying jobs in the City and support the development and continued success of local small businesses. Long Beach also should continue to ensure that our residents benefit from significant public investments, such as the local hire requirements that I co-authored as part of our project labor agreement,” Austin said.
His long list of endorsements of elected officials, labor and community groups, includes Mayor Robert Garcia, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, Assemblyspeaker Anthony Renden, Assemblyman Mike Gipson, Doris Topsy Elvord, Long Beach Vice Mayor (ret.), Teachers Association of Long Beach (TALB), the city’s Firefighters, IAFF Local 372, and city Police Officers Association.
Long Beach City Council Candidates – Sixth District
Incumbent Councilman Dee Andrews, Long Beach Vice Mayor
Elected in 2007, Central Long Beach Councilman Dee Andrews is seeking a fourth term on the city council, also having won broad support of two of the city’s leading labor unions, Long Beach Police Officers Association and Long Beach Firefighters, Local 372, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
Among his many supporters: Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster (Ret.), Long Beach City Councilwoman Suzie Price Long Beach, City Councilman Daryl Supernaw, Central Neighborhood Advisory Committee Member & Founder of Miss Alice and Friends Monthly Feeding- Alice Robinson. Long Beach City Councilman Al Austin.
Andrews holds a political science degree from California State University Long Beach. The long time Central Long Beach resident has worked for the city’s unified school district, and taught history and government at Long Beach Polytechnic High School and Wilson High School. He’s also been recognized by the American Red Cross as a Hometown Hero.
Andrews boasts a leadership legacy in the Sixth District of helping to balance the city budget, which saved taxpayers over $230 Million in pension reform during the Great Recession. He also serves as Chair of both the City’s Housing and Neighborhoods Committee and its Personnel and Civil Service Committee.
Long Beach Unified School District Board of Education – District 2
Candidate John Matthews II
John Matthews II is running on a platform to prioritize student safety, closing the gap in graduation rates and college enrollment, increase business partnerships and internships.
Mathews II, an attorney and criminal justice reform advocate, seeks to take up the torch of his endorser, Dr. Felton Williams, who has served four terms on the board. Dr. Williams is currently Board President, District 2, and is not running for reelection.
In Matthews’ campaign statement, he emphasized school campus and emotional safety for students, but also is focused on creating career education and work-based learning.
“We have one of the biggest ports in the world. A lot of the world is looking to Long Beach for leadership and that’s going to lie with our students,” he said.
Among an array of local and state leaders, Matthews has received an endorsement from Jon Myer, Long Beach School Board Member, District 4, Senator Bill Dodd, SD3 – CA, Select Committee on Boys of Men of Color, Devin Murphy, Chair, California Young Democrats African American Caucus. He is also championed by Bobbie Smith, retired Board Member, 1st African American elected to LBUSD, Dr. Carl Cohn, Retired Superintendent, LBUSD and Dr. Gwendolyn Mathews Retired Assistant Superintendent, LBUSD.
Candidate Erik Miller
Erik Miller has spoken fondly about his early childhood influences, about how his aunt owned a preschool for 40 years in Central Long Beach, and his mother moved him to North Long Beach to get away from escalating gang violence.
Through the years, he has worked with several nonprofits. He is the former executive director of PVJOBS, which helps put at-risk and disadvantaged youth, adults and veterans in construction jobs, and other industries. He holds a degree in architecture. He ran for City Council District 6 in 2016.
Miller, a current mentor with Operation Jump Start, 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.
The Teachers Association of Long Beach announced support for Miller and earlier last year. TALB represents 3,700 teachers, nurses, speech pathologists, and librarians. Also endorsing Mr. Miller is Sixth District Councilman Dee Andrews, Long Beach Vice Mayor, Long Beach City Councilmembers Al Austin Suzie Price, Long Beach Unified School District board members Megan Kerr and Juan Benitez, and the California School Employees Association.
Voters can conveniently cast their fast, easy ballots across the country at any of many vote center locations.
For more information, see https://lavote.net/