LB Leadership Upcoming 2022 Candidates Forum
By Dianne Anderson
For as much as can be expected in the midterms, voters seem energized in the biggest election in Long Beach since 2014, with the Mayor’s race probably drawing the most attention.
And as most political pundits agree, all politics is local.
Two current council members are running for Mayor, three council seats are up from primary runoffs, as well as one new state assembly district.
Jeff Williams, an alumni of Leadership Long Beach, said whoever wins the Mayor’s seat is going to bring a very different kind of leadership playbook than the old guard of the last eight years.
“It’s a lot of change, people don’t pay attention to these elections often, but they usually impact our community more than state or federal politics. These are our local leaders,” said Williams, Alumni Volunteer for the Candidates Forum Steering Committee.
Leadership Long Beach held its first candidate forum in 2014, and is hosting an upcoming nonpartisan candidate forum. He said the organization is committed to informing the community about its future leaders.
“It’s their chance for them to tell their community about why they should be our leader and what their views on what they think the issues in our city are. Hopefully, it will help inform people to make the best decisions for themselves and for our city,” said Williams, who also served ten years as the organization’s executive director.
On Monday, October 3, the event will be held at 6:00 p.m. at the Aquarium of the Pacific in the Pacific Visions wing, located at 100 Aquarium Way in Long Beach.
Every election, their nonprofit has held the event, but he said last May, to his knowledge, was the only forum with every candidate vying for citywide offices participating.
Redrawn redistricting boundaries along with Democrat Alan Lowenthal’s retirement announcement, opened the door for other leaders to shift into place. Mayor Robert Garcia is competing for Lowenthal’s seat.
The open Mayor’s seat is vied for by twice-elected Ninth District Councilman and Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, who represents north Long Beach, and Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price, who represents Southeast Long Beach. Rex Richardson held a strong edge in the primaries, and last week he received the endorsement from Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia.
District 8 Councilman Al Austin is going after the recently drawn 69th Assembly, which also opened the door for his old council seat.
“It’s a big election for our city. New faces, new leadership, new everything,” he said.
Leadership Long Beach has over 1,800 alumni carrying out behind-the-scenes mission development of the organization that started 33 years ago. Most of the city’s leaders have already gone through the program, including the current Mayor and Rex Richardson.
Williams hopes to pack the house during this very important forum.
“In the primary, we had almost 200 people at the Aquarium of the Pacific at the first [event]. It only holds 300, but I hope we can get 200 to 300 there,” he said. “We’re also live streaming it, we want to make sure there are no barriers to getting involved.”
Sheryl Bender said they were first approached by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority – Theta Alpha Omega Chapter, NAACP – Long Beach Branch, and the Wrigley Association to partner up with Leadership Long Beach for the event, a win-win partnership for the whole community.
“We’re electing a series of different districts, but the Mayoral race itself is historic in the city. We have the prospect of another female mayor or the first Black mayor in Long Beach. There is such excitement, it’s really important to us to get the community involved,” said Bender, Leadership Long Beach Board President.
She is seeing activity in various parts of the community, whether social media posts or actual signs on the lawns.
“I’m seeing the signs and I see engagement with their social media posts, people are definitely paying attention. I think everyone is excited to see what’s going to happen next,” she said.
“We had a blockbuster first year, not to mention continued leadership with Drew Schneider, my predecessor. We’re just on an upward trajectory that makes me so proud.”
The last two years posed many challenges, and at one point, the executive leadership series was canceled, and they held virtual institute series instead, but she said they are ready for the year ahead.
“The pandemic put us in a very precarious position and to come roaring back like this. “This year we’re starting off running on all cylinders,” she said.
For Leadership Long Beach, see https://leadershiplb.org/
For voter key dates and deadlines, see
For more information and to RSVP, see above or email Colleen Bentley at firstname.lastname@example.org or text/call 562 400-6115.
Or to watch online, see www.tinyurl.com/LLBForumYT