Rex Richardson, Al Austin Continue Election Quest
By Dianne Anderson
Having scaled the Primary hurdles, the top two vote-getter candidates are now facing off against their challengers in the next leg of their run toward the November General Election.
Vice Mayor Rex Richardson — Mayor of Long Beach
For Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, his primary win speaks to the spirit of unity in the city, and that the people want to work together, rather than deal with more divisiveness.
“[It’s] what I attribute to how we overcame those challenges. I think in the General Election we need to continue to do more of the same, to talk about issues that matter most to Long Beach. They understand that I will be mayor for all of Long Beach,” said Richardson, first elected to city council in 2014 representing District 9.
Richardson said his campaign had a strong citywide coalition of supporters, neighborhood leaders, and community organizations. It all resonated with his message of inclusion, something that he saw lacking in his opponents.
He said despite a significant barrage of misleading attacks, he pulled the votes. At last count, the unofficial election results show Richardson leads at 43.4% and contender Suzie Price trails at 37.9%.
“We have demonstrated that out of the field of candidates, we have the real proven track record of delivering on the issues that are most important to Long Beach residents, delivering on homelessness, public safety and economic development,” he said.
As chair of the Long Beach Federal Legislative Committee, Richardson has advocated for federal recovery dollars to help the city overcome the significant challenges of COVID-19. On council, he led the charge on on economic recovery plan that pulled a $230 million investment through the Long Beach Recovery Act toward helping impacted families and businesses.
In the months ahead, his campaign strategy is building on the existing momentum along with their broad coalition endorsers, and pooling resources to win in November. Until then, he plans to expand on the work they’ve been doing.
“There were neighborhoods we did really well in all parts of town. We won in the North, South, and West Long Beach, we need to carry that momentum forward. We won seven out of nine city council districts,” he said.
Richardson also serves as a Regional Council member of the Southern California Association of Governments and a Director on the Gateway Cities Council of Governments.
Whenever any city deals with issues related to safety, he said there must be real investments made into unsafe communities, which will help make the entire city safe.
He said the main contrast between him and his opponent is his track record, which shows that he has success in the most important areas, including a history of investing in libraries, community centers and youth programs that create community safety.
Mainly, the top difference between him and his opponent is the vision for the future.
“We need to acknowledge the role of local government is changing, the challenges are increasing and we are going to have to lean into those challenges head on, everything from air quality issues, life expectancy difference of 17 years, economic inequity in our city,” he said.
Al Austin II — 69th Assembly
In the race for the 69th State Assembly seat, Al Austin II attributes his success to name recognition, and that the community is already very familiar with all he has accomplished since he took office.
“I think that a good number of voters recognize my work on city council for the past ten years and I think we did a good job of communicating the message of experienced leadership,” said Austin, who represents District 8 on the Long Beach City Council.
He also feels that voters understand and appreciate that he has a long history of getting results for the residents of Long Beach.
In the coming months, he also is stepping up his campaign message around his goals for affordable housing and addressing homelessness. Rising crime, community health, reentry programs all underscore the need for more mental health resources.
Austin is also a member of the Government and Elections, the I-710 Oversight, Charter Amendment, and Housing Authority committees.
Come November, he wants to work closely with his Democratic colleagues, as well as all members of the state legislature.
“I’m engaged in the most of the important issues [facing] voters today already as a city council member and Sacramento will be an opportunity to expand the work that I’m already doing. I will hit the ground running in Sacramento as their next State Assemblymember,” he said.
Now that Federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars are coming down for his district, and the state of California has its $97 billion budget surplus. He sees some things looking up for opportunities for cities and governments. There are new resources to help sustain the community.
The competition is narrowed down, and in the coming months, he said the most important part of his campaign will be communicating with voters about the many differences between him and his opponent.
He said one major difference is that he brings something to the table that the voters can understand.
“Life experience. My life experiences are more relatable to most voters in the district and the community,” he said.
For more information on Rex Richardson, see https://www.joinrexrichardson.com/
For more information on Al Austin, https://www.alaustinforassembly.org/