Rex Richardson Campaigns for Long Beach Mayor
By Dianne Anderson
Voters wanting to get in on the action this election, but feel like they don’t have time to drive to their polling places – or they forgot to buy a stamp for their ballot – should not stress about fulfilling their civic duty.
It’s as easy as putting it in the mailbox.
With the primaries right around the corner, contenders for the Long Beach mayor’s seat are talking about ways to tackle tough challenges facing the city.
Vice Mayor Rex Richardson doesn’t have to think long or hard about what’s needed.
Families are up against the rising cost of rent and housing and homelessness has increased, but he said the solution starts with a plan to develop resources and strategies.
Public safety is one big concern. There is an increase in guns on the streets.
“That affects property and property crimes. Keeping our communities healthy and safe is a key issue,” said Richardson, who was first elected to city council in 2014 representing District 9.
In dealing with a once in a century global pandemic, he said it’s important to get the economy back on track in a way that no one is left behind.
As chair of the Long Beach Federal Legislative Committee, he advocated for federal recovery dollars to help the city overcome significant challenges of COVID-19. On council, he led efforts on the economic recovery plan to ensure investment in sectors and families hit hardest by the pandemic.
“This was a plan that led to a $230 million investment in our city called the Long Beach Recovery Act that invests in families and small businesses and provides a much-needed boost to our local economy,” he said.
The city is in the process of deploying those resources to small businesses and nonprofits and community groups to help boost recovery.
“We placed an equity lens of our redistributed resources, and we look at the long term effects of the pandemic, [like] downpayment assistance to help people get into homeownership. There’s been a significant impact on people’s ability to buy homes with the rising cost of housing,” said Richardson, who serves as Chair of the Economic Development Committee and the Long Beach Housing Authority.
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.
He has a long list of endorsements, including California Black Women’s Democratic Club, Black Women Organized for Political Action PAC, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell and President, Long Beach Harbor Commission, Steven Neal.
In his recently released economic recovery plan, Richardson details goals to establish a Deputy Mayor for economic development and recovery to lead an advisory team to attract businesses to the city. He also wants to invest in infrastructure by preparing for zero emission, electrifying the port, as well as building 26,000 housing units. He is poised to invest in aerospace, transportation, and technology, and small businesses supporting LGBTQ individuals, and people of color and women-owned.
In serving the Black community, he said one top accomplishment was addressing areas of health exacerbated by COVID.
“It exposed inequities in our community as it relates to unhoused individuals overrepresented by the Black community. Folks are impacted by the rising cost of housing, unemployment health outcomes, all of those inequities were made worse by the pandemic,” he said.
In creating the city’s Office of Equity, he said it placed an equity lens on leadership and decision-making to help resources make it to every community, including the Black community.
As Councilmember, Richardson pushed to address systemic and anti-Black racism within the city after protests erupted in the city. His initiative resulted in the Framework for Reconciliation, adopted in June 2020, a month after the police killing of George Floyd.
Part of the plan was to acknowledge racism as a public health crisis, and the ethical and moral responsibility of the city to address the issue, he added. Among major infrastructure investments, he proposed the naming of the North Library after First Lady Michelle Obama and the Doris Topsy Elvord Community Center.
Other programs and resources also directly impacted economic inclusion.
“I’ve been a champion on economic inclusion since joining the city council going back to my days to bringing My Brothers Keeper Initiative, Long Beach Boys and Men of Color, to my days of [initiating the] economic inclusion strategy,” he said. “But we have significantly more work to do.”
Voters should have started receiving their Primary ballots in the mail starting May 9, which also opened in-person early voting at the regional Registrar of Voters offices. May 23 is the last day to register to vote at https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voter-registration.
The top two vote-getters for all elected offices will then go on to compete in the November election.
Tunua Thrash-Ntuk was among several community members, local leaders, and business experts that Richardson brought together to bring the city back to a strong economic recovery from the impact of the pandemic.
“Long Beach should be a place where every resident and worker can benefit from our economy and where all small businesses can thrive,” stated Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, Managing Director of the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion (LBCEI). “The Vice Mayor Richardson’s plan has the foundation to deliver inclusive economic opportunities to all segments of Long Beach’s economy through proven best practices and policy solutions.”