Why are you interested in this position?
I have dedicated a great deal of time and effort into building relationships and collaborating with Long Beach residents over the past 7 ½ years. I think those efforts have earned their respect, which will carry to the polls. I am pleased that despite being the first Democrat to hold the Third District seat since 1972, the Republicans did not choose to run a candidate in my last election. I think that speaks to the balance I have tried to create by voting on individual issues and approaching them from a perspective of how the policies created will impact residents not from a politics perspective. Long Beach is a diverse City in terms of political ideology with a large and active conservative community that I am uniquely positioned to represent after 7 years representing East Long Beach, while still being a Democrat. Additionally, Long Beach has a large immigrant community, something I am also uniquely able to understand and appeal to. Long Beach is also a working-class city where people work multiple jobs, and they care most about how they will make their house payments, are their kids getting a good education, and how can they support their aging parents, while living paycheck to paycheck; these are exactly the issues I face with my family daily. I am most interested in making a difference for people, not in politics. But I have been elected and reelected for my commitment to progress over politics, and it has resonated with Long Beach residents. And for this I have strong fundraising history and potential moving forward. I am well trusted and well known in the areas of the City that have the highest voter turnout, meaning anyone challenging me will be at a disadvantage. I speak to a voice often overlooked in politics today. I don’t use middle-class residents to achieve political goals of my own. I don’t claim a meaningless policy will be life changing for them in order to pass a new policy that gets my name in the paper. I work to get those resident’s street paved, I figure out ways to get them a new park, I coordinate to find new ways to address crime or homelessness so their kids feel safe walking down the street. My commitment has been to focusing on the basics and doing them well. Help residents, solve problems, be practical, and never let politics get in the way. That is why I am the most viable candidate.
What relative experience do you have in this career field?
I have a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration. I have been active in my community serving on the PTA, and other non-profit boards for over 2 decades. I have served as a Long Beach City Councilmember representing the 3rd District since 2014. I have been a prosecutor for 22 years and am currently a Senior Assistant District Attorney overseeing all of the courthouses in Orange County, as well as our criminal justice reform initiatives, such as early intervention homeless outreach diversion and mental health.
What are 3 changes you would like to make while in office?
Rebuilding our Public Safety staffing- adding more police officers to the patrol division.
Expand our Homeless outreach efforts and Quality of Life teams and create a “directed outreach” plan for each council district.
Invest in Business development, recruitment and incentive programs to eliminate blight and activate all of our business corridors throughout the city.
What are your top priorities for small businesses ?
I am a small business owner so I know the gaps in our current system. I would like to provide our small business the support they need at the initial start up to ensure mitigating their costs and timing for permits and approvals.
I would like to prioritize on-going support to help small businesses build on our overall economic recovery and see them stabilize, as they are the backbone of our communities.
What are your top 3 goals or concerns for District 3?
Improve public safety, meaning more officers, and greater safety throughout the community.
Confront homelessness by staffing City departments with the goal of really solving this, not just talking about it or creating pet projects.
Bringing more business to the district and making sure our economic recovery is strong and develops in a way that makes our business community more sustainable and protected against future impacts.
How would you address people who are concerned about the City and States Affordable Housing plan and its impact on their neighborhood?
Throughout my time in office I have worked to pragmatically solve problems by working together with communities and finding middle grounds. On the topic of housing this has always been my approach. When we went through the LUE process, I literally walked block by block with your board and discussed concerns and potential solutions, and held countless community meetings soliciting input. I also worked hard to update SEASP with extensive community input as we updated building standards that took into account environmentally sensitive habitat protecting it, and creating new opportunities for much needed housing. And when the state proposed SB 10, and AB 68 I personally wrote letters and set up meetings with our State legislators advocating for changes in light of potentially harmful impacts to our communities. So, I would tell people I understand your concerns, and I will continue to be an open door and an advocate for you because I care about communities and people, not just about politics or short-term ideological wins. I would also say that we do need more housing in Long Beach, but we have to develop policies that take into account our unique needs. Long Beach is growing and we have too many families living in one-bedrooms when they would like to find a 3-bedroom with their growing families, or we have recent graduates who would like to move out from their parents house but cannot find a studio apartment they can afford, or we have empty-nest seniors who would like to downsize, but cannot find a condo or a senior community in their neighborhood. Housing is not just a policy mandated by the state, but it is about quality of life and our growing Long Beach families.
Do you have plans to strengthen Homeless Outreach Programs such as the Quality of Life Team, Project Homekey/Roomkey, etc...? Do you have ideas of your own you would like to implement?
As Mayor you would see major reinvestments in our homeless outreach efforts including expanding our Homeless Outreach efforts and Quality of Life teams.. Homelessness continues to be the biggest challenge we face as a City. The complexity involved stems from the unique path each person has taken to arrive at being homeless, as well as the different solutions needed to help each individual get out of homelessness long-term. We cannot continue to claim this is a priority for the City, while committing less than 20 City staff to this responsibility. We need to get people the help they need by getting them into services. Which means we need City staff out in the City every day making those contacts, building relationships and developing the credibility that is necessary for someone suffering from homelessness to commit and accept services that will get them on the right track long-term. We don’t need more shelters, or more meal programs, we need a comprehensive approach that gets people into services and helps ensure they have the best chance possible to succeed. And this begins with funding our staffing needs appropriately with outreach teams that are out in the community 7 days a week, an MSC that is available not just 9-5 Monday-Friday, it means expanded Quality of Life Officers, and REACH teams to include one in every Council District. It means putting our money where our mouths are and funding essential needs, not depending on County grants, or short-term funding to staff solving the biggest issue we see facing the City every day.
What plan do you support/propose for The Queen Mary?
The Queen Mary is a topic that is deeply frustrating to me. For years we have given the management of this iconic City asset over to operators who have neglected the essential investment and maintenance needed. However, the most recent operators took neglect and fraud to a new level by not only not investing in the ship the way they were required to under the lease, they also embezzled City funds and defrauded the Federal government with the PPP loans early during the pandemic. I am proud to say I was the only Councilmember to vote against giving $23 million to what turned out to be a team of con artists. Our partnership with them has led the City to the even more difficult position it finds itself with the Queen Mary now. I support the current effort to look at the feasibility of the Harbor Department taking over the ship, and the surrounding Pier J with the opportunities that may exist for there to be revenue generation there that permanently supports the needs of the ship. But, if those options end up not being feasible, I am going to be looking very hard at any future spending that goes into the Queen Mary. We have miles of beaches, and marinas, a pier that needs rebuilding, and future seawall projects that need to be funded that would be in competition for the limited Tidelands funding. So, I am cautiously optimistic, but some very tough conversations may be needed on the future of the Queen Mary and its potential to generate revenue. If any significant investment from the general fund or Tidelands is to go the the Queen Mary, it has to be a decision that the voters weigh in on.