2019 City Council District 1 Special Election

Residents in the 1st Council District will elect a new councilmember on Nov. 5. Here are seven of the eight candidates seeking office, and their responses to eight questions posed by the Long Beach Post. The only candidate not to participate was Shelbyrae Black. The below responses are not a word-for-word transcription, but rather are paraphrased, in the candidates’ own words, for clarity and brevity.

For a more in-depth look at who's running, read the Long Beach Post's profiles on each of the candidates here.

Joe Ganem
Elliot Gonzales
Shirley Huling
Ray Morquecho
Mariela Salgado
Misi Tagaloa
Mary Zendejas

Joe Ganem

→ Read the entire interview with Joe Ganem here.

Ganem, 73, is a retired police officer, city manager and developer who has lived in Long Beach for 14 years and in District 1 for eight years. He is a registered Democrat. 

Read the Post’s profile on Joe Ganem here.

Why did you decide to run?

I went to a forum that was held at Toxic Toast, and saw the other candidates because I was curious what they had to say. I felt the district needed a little more horsepower, someone with more capacity and deeper ties to the district and dealing with its issues. I argued with myself about it, but shortly after, at 3:30 in the morning, shot out of bed and said, ‘I have to do this.’ I didn’t see the substance there. Very nice people‚ but they didn’t have the background to deal with the problems before us. They had broad answers without specific solutions I want to make this count. I want to do something. I want to make sure we get the community on the right path. It’s time to pull up our big boy pants and do something.

The 1st District has some of the highest rates of violence among the city, including shootings. What solutions do you have to reduce gun violence? And does that include increasing the number of police officers?

The community has got to get way more involved with the police department. We must have stronger relationships, and that goes down to neighbors; neighbors can see something coming, they can communicate those things to the PD and police can become active in that area. I’ve volunteered for four years to interview police and fire recruits and I am familiar with their training, but they can’t be everywhere all the time. The extra set of eyes and ears is critical. We must build that trust between officers and the public. It should be a requirement that every officer belong to one civic institution, or help coach a Little League team. We want officers and the public to know each other. “You can’t stop people from picking up a gun and shooting, but you can deter a lot of that behavior.” 

What type of solutions would you propose or support to provide more affordable housing? Is rent control part of your plan?

Housing is such an incredibly important issue regardless of what economic position you’re in, and it will come crashing down on the state economy if we don’t address it. There are a lot of people being displaced from their homes. I’ve devised a plan and presented it to attorneys and bond experts. It’s quite simple: We create a municpal tax free bond that can be sold to investors who are expecting a return only when a property would sell or transfer. This would allow you to take out a $100,000 loan, and that would become a subordinate mortage, and when you sell the property you pay back the $100K. It could also help finance rental housing; in the 1st District, 80% of people are renters. Instead of using techniques like inclusionary housing, which can be difficult to incorpate into housing policies, and have an unfair disadvantage to newer buildings. Housing is all of our resonsibility, shouldn’t be arm-twisted out of a single building. We depend on the baristas, grocery clerks, they need a place to live just everybody else. The entire community is affected by the inability to provide adequte housing. I am against rent control. It has the consequence of making people think they’ve solved the problem when it’s delaying the problem. What we should do is use this period as a time to ensure that we start building more housing, because the real problem is supply and demand—that’s driving up the prices, not the high rents. We’ve got people that oppose housing in increased density; for every project that they oppose, they are limiting options for their own children and seniors in the community. Density is a fact of life in an urban enviornment. 

How would you address the homelessness crisis in the District, including the issues associated with homelessness like mental illness and addiction?

I spent four years on the Homeless Services Advisory Commission, but felt like it didn’t get anything done. I learned a great deal, and I have the highest respect for the Health Department and for people who work in that field. But imagine treating someone for alcohol abuse and thinking the only thing you can do is send someone back under a bridge? Permanent supportive housing is the only solution; anything less than that and we’re just playing with Tiddlywinks—we’re not solving the problem. Studies have shown that when you house people you begin to stabilize them and then you can solve the needs they have. We are all paying the hidden costs of dealing with the homeless (from agencies like police, fire, public works). We can afford this, but our priorities are in the wrong direction. How we treat the homeless is a reflection of ourselves. 

What is your plan for improving air quality in Long Beach? Do you support the expansion of the 710 Freeway and the use of MHF in nearby refineries?

Most people are just thinking about their health and welfare. We depend on those jobs as we do fresh air. We dealt with the problem of noise surrounding Long Beach Airport; we found ways to mitigate that, like insulating housing and changing hours of operation, etc. There has to be ways to mitigate the issue of air pollution, like turning the trucking system from diesel to electric. All of those things have to be wrapped into a cohesive plan. The 710 will be expanded. The question is how do we handle that expansion to do the least amount of damage to the existing environment? Things are moving in that direction but not quickly enough. The city has beefed up bicycle paths (I’m a big advocate of biking); this is an issue that’s close to me personally. We have to solve this problem, we have to move faster in the progress that we’re making toward getting there. As far as the chemical: In most cases the businesses were there before the houses, but we didn’t realize the problem. A corporation is looking at numbers. We have to make it cheaper it cheaper to fix the problem that keep doing it. 

What have you personally contributed to the District? 

I am the president of Downtown Residential Council. I led a leadership conference that trained neighborhoods on how to become effective leaders. I was part of a group that put on a ‘meet your next mayor’ event. I helped to establish neighborhoods. I’ve participated in tree plantings at Cesar Chavez park and setting up community garden. I am on the board of my HOA, and participated in fundraising and food drives around the holidays. I’ve been involved in the Long Beach Rescue Mission. 

Who is funding and endorsing your campaign?

I have no endosements. Due to the political machine, there pretty much was not a shot at getting endorsed.As far as financing, the record is out there; most of my money is coming from friends and community members, some from out of state.  

Do you have plans for higher office?

I have no plans for higher office. Absolutely not. That’s a point that should not be lost. There’s a heck of a lot of work to do. Low voter turnout gives an unfair advantage to machine politics. These are elections not coronations; we’ve got to get people out there voting.

Elliot Gonzales

→ Read the entire interview with Elliot Gonzales here.

Elliot Gonzales, 32, is an activist who is a native of Long Beach and has lived in District 1 for 12 years. He is a registered Democrat. 

Read the Post’s profile on Elliot Gonzales here.

Why did you decide to run?

We’re in a state of multiple crises, including the housing crisis—best epitomized by the people we see sleeping on the street, some of them students who are couch surfing. I am for the working class, working to end economic displacement and high cost of rents. My number one issue is the state of the planet; that will lead to our doom. Our future is at stake, and young people need to play an active role in that. We need to make a massive divestment away from fossil fuels. We know that the air causes cancer, and we allow it continue to exist. I don’t think that the other candidates will talk about that. The state of the climate is something that needs to be addressed. 

The 1st District has some of the highest rates of violence among the city, including shootings. What solutions do you have to reduce gun violence? And does that include increasing the number of police officers?

Solutions to reducing violence start at addressing the lack of investment in communities in general. We live in a violent culture, one that sells violence and markets violence. Communities have been divested for decades. When we talk about where the violence is happening, we tend to speak of lower income areas—these are the communities that have been divested of public investment. They’ve got portable classrooms and neglected communities. There’s a lot of people experiencing hopelessness. Solving this would require federal funding, and a jobs program. This nation is so wealthy that we can guarrantee everybody a job. We need to offer people in desperate situations a guarranteed jobs program, doing things like planting trees, mulching, etc.  Increasing police officers does not reduce violence. It doesn’t solve the root issue. 

What type of solutions would you propose or support to provide more affordable housing? Is rent control part of your plan?

I support rent control. My solution is creating a public land trust, in which the city or a nonprofit would essentially own and develop land for the purpose of creating affordable housing. Most housing is viewed as an investment. When looking at a hot market, someone’s house can make them a millionaire; we have an inflated housing market built on speculation. People who don’t have a home are left out. When you have an entity outside of the market to do this, you take out the market. This gives us an alternative. If were to allow only market-based building in Downtown, the working class people would get pushed out. Developers don’t see anything wrong with that. If we build affordable housing we ensure the market stays stable throughout the entire area. 

How would you address the homelessness crisis in the District, including the issues associated with homelessness like mental illness and addiction?

The solution to homelessness is to provide homes. That work can be done; we need to finance housing for the homeless. We just built a civic center at triple the original price; if we can find $900 million for this project, then we can find $50 million for a homeless shelter—and that is more impactful and has more economic benefit than a monument to [former Mayor] Bob Foster. … This is going to take a lot of planning and coordination with federal funds, and a public bank. We need a public bank. If we had our own bank in Long Beach, we would be able to finance these projects. 

What is your plan for improving air quality in Long Beach? Do you support the expansion of the 710 Freeway and the use of MHF in nearby refineries?

I definitely do not support the use of MHF. MHF is a gas that can spread about a mile and kill everything. So I don’t support having a bomb in the city—for what benefit? So the oil companies can make a profit? They’ve built the infrastructure to support that chemical. These industries need to be antagonized. Very few people are talking about these issues. We have only five to 10 years before we reach the point of no return for the environment. Oil companies are treated as the backbone of the economy, because they’re wealthy for extracting oil. It’s an indusry that’s built on lies, and built on death. These toxins cause asthma, and the company’s continue to expand everywhere because of their wealth. We are lacking in the current City Council anyone who’s willing to challenge them because they’re taking oil companies’ money. On the 710 expansion: All science and studies indicate that adding lanes does not reduce traffic; all you do is make more room for more traffic. This issue of traffic congestion is caused in part by port traffic. If anyone expands lanes it should be the port to have their own separate lane, not something that the public should have to pay for. Do not place this burden on the public. We need more public investment in renewable technology: We need to put solar panels on every roof, complete the energy grid, invest in electric vehicles. We’re all still here using gas and we shouldn’t be. If Long Beach were to invest in this, we could put a lot of people to work. We could power our port, rebuild the wetlands and improve our air quality.  

What have you personally contributed to District 1? 

What I do in my free time is garden in public spaces. I’ve planted gardens throughout the city along Cedar, 10th and Long Beach Boulevard. I’ve participated in rallies and advocacy. I served on the sustainability commission for eight years. We had the first public review of the city’s oil and gas regulations done. 

Who is funding or endorsing your campaign?

I have zero big donors—it’s mostly friends, community members. I’m amazed; my average donation is $87. I’m keeping the cost of my campaign very low. This gives me the freedom to not respond to the Police Officers Association and other special interests. I get to speak out against police misconduct, police power, realtors and developers. We see a lot of their agenda push through. I get to serve my donors; they are my people, my community. I have made a pledge not to accept donations from corporations, and I am asking other candidates to do the same. 

Do you have plans for higher office?

At this point I am not seeking any higher office. It’s not what I’m thinking about right now—I’m thinking about serving the City of Long Beach. I will be involved in politics for the rest of my life.

Shirley Huling

→ Read the entire interview with Shirley Huling here.

Shirley Huling, 59, is a farmer’s market sales person who moved to Long Beach in 2005 and moved to the 1st District in 2014. She is a registered Democrat.

Read the Post’s profile on Shirley Huling here.

Why did you decide to run?

I was a political science major in college with a minor in international relations. I loved politics—I wanted to be in politics—and I worked on Ernie Kell’s reelection campaign. I got into the fashion industry, then sat on the board of a charter school in Long Beach, and realized that education is the answer. I am a Buddhist and I believe in going inside. We can make an impact. Anything’s possible. I was part of the change. I have been invested in the neighborhoods. We need to stir up dialogue; the status quo is all we’re seeing. 

The 1st District has some of the highest rates of violence among the city, including shootings. What solutions do you have to reduce gun violence? And does that include increasing the number of police officers?

All we’re doing at this time is we’re patching everything up. We have not come up with a real solution. It seems like it’s just the same stuff. We need access to parks and recreation opportunities, schools, and parents have to be part of the process. Kids need to feel safe. I’m not going to say police need to increase, but rather we need a partnership where kids are doing internships at the police department. People are what make it go around. 

What type of solutions would you propose or support to provide more affordable housing? Is rent control part of your plan?

All buildings should be multi-use, for folks who are lower income. We are creating the homelessness problem by limiting access. We have to start creating value. We should do a study on every building in the city. Why are they vacant? Every building should be multi-use. We need to study how to create value. As far as rent control, I’m not sure about my opinion on it. I just know that we need more housing. 

How would you address the homelessness crisis in the District, including the issues associated with homelessness like mental illness and addiction?

We’ve got to start with preschool, elementary school and advocating breast-feeding. We need a homelessness resolution committee that incorporates folks from the homeless community, multiservice center, firehouses, police department and other agencies. We have feared everyone down; what empowerment are we doing? We’re all about our title and our ego. We’re working from the wrong platforms. It’s about access, good food, improved schools and access to schools speaking Spanish. 

What is your plan for improving air quality in Long Beach? Do you support the expansion of the 710 Freeway and the use of MHF in nearby refineries?

I have no position right now. 

What have you personally contributed to the District? 

I am homeschooler, an educator and a farmer. 

Who is endorsing and funding your campaign?

Me, me and me. I will have an open door policy; all neighbors can come to me. I’m not taking any money from anyone. I would rather than just talk to people than have them own me. 

Do you have plans for higher office?

I am not looking for a career in politcs. I have absolutely no plans for higher office. I want to be based on integrity. 

Ray Morquecho

→ Read the entire interview with Ray Morquecho here.

Ray Morquecho, 35, is a business owner who moved to Long Beach in 2006 and moved to the 1st District in 2018. He is registered as decline to state.

Read the Post’s profile on Ray Morquecho here.

Why did you decide to run?

I want to bring trust back. You’re never going to please everybody, but I want residents to know when they have those questions, I want them to know why I did it. I would like very much to get government back to what it’s supposed to be doing, things like keeping the lights on, fixing problems that affect people. 

The 1st District has some of the highest rates of violence among the city, including shootings. What solutions do you have to reduce gun violence? And does that include increasing the number of police officers?

The 1st District has some of the highest crime numbers. Yes we need more police, but we also need more community relationships with police; there’s a trust issue at times. We need police officers patrolling, we need to have boots on the ground and gang units getting to know what’s happening. We have our budget priorities slightly off—the police, fire and public safety prioritization is a little off. We need to try to figure out how to do it differently. There’s going to be hard times and we have to make choices. I wasn’t in favor of Measure A; I didn’t want to try to tax our way out of spending problems. But I am in support of the (Measure A) extension, though, because I want to keep the (sales tax) money here in Long Beach (versus having it go to county or regional taxes). 

What type of solutions would you propose or support to provide more affordable housing? Is rent control part of your plan?

I am not in favor of rent control. It’s a really easy way to gain favor with voters; it’s an easy platform. I don’t think it works though. I’ve seen that in L.A., in places like Santa Monica. The problem is there’s not enough good jobs and the middle class is shrinking. We need to bring more jobs to Long Beach and create more options for public transit. It’s a problem of demand versus scarcity. Things like inclusionary housing, and other strategies like rent control: what we’re doing is locking people into poverty—if you make more than a certain amount, you have to leave your house and there’s no incentive to move up in life. We need to build more, using local labor contracts. 

How would you address the homelessness crisis in the District, including the issues associated with homelessness like mental illness and addiction?

The solution really needs to be multifaceted. We need to ask why people are becoming homeless. Why do people have only a month’s worth of savings? Why has income not risen? We need to reestablish mental health facilities, working with the state and regional authorities, while also working to fix the effects of this that locals are seeing. We are only going to solve the larger problem, however, by working with the state.

What is your plan for improving air quality in Long Beach? Do you support the expansion of the 710 Freeway and the use of MHF in nearby refineries?

If there’s some sort of catastrophe, that goes right to the 1st District. I believe in capitalism, but where it runs amok, that’s where government is supposed to come in and regulate. We need to use a different chemical. I am also against expansion of the 710. Expanding the freeway does not cut down traffic. We have to have more jobs here in Long Beach. This is one of those issues where everyone needs to come together; you have to look at this holistically. We do have poeple who really do care, and we have to continue with those plans: our ports are going zero emission, with clean trucks, things like that. But we are still in many ways dependent on old jobs, fossil fuel jobs, and we have to figure a way out of that. The poor neighborhoods are the ones that tend to lose. If it was up to every individual, they’re going to look out for their own personal good; you have to have leadership capable of explaining why this is good, and here’s the data. We need people in leadership who are able to handle the fire. 

What have you personally contributed to the District? 

I have participated in lots of cleanups, picking up garbage, part of grant proposal. I am a member of the Wilmore Heritage Neighborhood Association. 

Who is endorsing and funding your campaign?

I have no big endorsers. Most of my money is coming from residents, property owners, people who haven’t been heard. There’s a lot of small property owners who are not getting heard.

Do you have plans for higher office?

I have no plans for higher office. The person elected to this office could serve 14 years of unbroken service. Wouldn’t it be great to have a representative for District 1 to serve for 14 years? I don’t like special elections; I don’t think it’s a good use of money. I think you serve, and use that as your resume, what you’ve done, for the next office, if that’s what you’re going to do.

Mariela Salgado

→ Read the entire interview with Mariela Salgado here.

Mariela Salgado, 36, is a small business owner who has lived in Long Beach and District 1 since 2010. She is a registered Democrat. 

Read the Post’s profile on Mariela Salgado here.

Why did you decide to run?

I am the candidate who is the most invested in the city. For me it was a conversation personally about where I come from. There are a lot of inequities across the district, our nation and the world. Those inequities started getting me involved. For instance, on the topic of recreational opportunities: I was always going to East Long Beach for opportunities. Where I come from there were always inequities, and how I’m revisiting that all over again with my kids. I’m a big advocate of park equity; I was on the parks commission, and served as a school site council member. I believe very strongly that representation matters. I’ve been of service to my community wherever I live for 20 years. I think it’s really important that the 1st District has somebody who’s been of service to the community. 

The 1st District has some of the highest rates of violence among the city, including shootings. What solutions do you have to reduce gun violence? And does that include increasing the number of police officers?

My personal experience has come into play here. What changed my life was educational attainment. Yes, we need to find ways to fund things like gun buyback programs, and an anti-gang unit. There’s graffitti constantly happening between gangs in the district. When somebody is released from prison, activity seems to rise. We need more specialized units. On the other side, where we should be doing more is in early education and prevention. When we give kids opportunities to look at the world differently, they will do better. District 1 has the lowest number of parks per resident. We need more recreational activities, more programming in parks.  We don’t do enough for early education, particularly for kids of color. We need more youth programming, more youth workforce development; we need to invest in organizations that are doing the work. On adding more police: I’d have to look at that more, but I feel we could do more with less. My concern as it is we have all these unfunded pension liabilities when we should shift priorities and invest in education and prevention. 

What type of solutions would you propose or support to provide more affordable housing? Is rent control part of your plan?

Rent control is not part of my plan. Economists say it doesn’t work. It works for the initial renter, but not so much for those in the future—and it usually keeps people in the same home. There has to be a covenant between property owner and renter, as these properties sometimes aren’t maintained. I am disappointed that the City Council will vote on an inclusionary housing law before the 1st District candidate is sworn in; 85% of development is in the 1st District, and most of it was luxury rentals. … Another issue is land dedication: Are we finding ways to find land to use and leverage so that we can lower the cost of development? We need a mix between new development and incentivizing and reducing costs for new businesses. And, building affordable housing. There has been no new housing for moderate-income earners. We need to ensure that we build for all types of income. Housing is a citywide issue there has to be a citywide solution. The 1st District can’t solve it. 

How would you address the homelessness crisis in the District, including the issues associated with homelessness like mental illness and addiction?

One of the data points we got from the recent homelessness survey was that half of those who are homeless were experiencing homelessness for the first time. The longer they are in the streets, the more likely they’ll stay there. As a concerned citizen, we need to do more to house and shelter those folks that are being displaced and provide them with opportunities and give them training and economic opportunities. The Section 8 voucher isn’t going to help. After a year they’re displaced again. We need programs in place that have actually worked and make sure they are funded appropriately. Mental health is different population—incarcerating them isn’t working. We should look to private-public partnerships. I am also looking for accountability—are we putting in resources where they are really giving us impact? There’s something happening and we can’t seem to get a handle on it; we need the political will to do the things that are necessary. 

What is your plan for improving air quality in Long Beach? Do you support the expansion of the 710 Freeway and the use of MHF in nearby refineries?

I don’t support expansion of the 710 Freeway. The Drake Chavez Master Plan (which calls for a 57-acre greenbelt along the lower Los Angeles River) was started 20 years ago. Why hasn’t this been a priority? That should have been a priority for a neighborhood like this. What are we doing to support the neighborhoods? How do we empower the city to do the work so that we have more green space and better air quality? What are we doing as a city—are we allocating any funds to invest in renewable energy? The port is a major resource to the city; so how are we working with them to ensure that we hit our targets with zero emissions? On the use of MHF, I probably would not support that. 

What have you personally contributed to District 1? 

I’ve spent hundreds of hours working in the community. My husband says if you want to know someone, look at what they do with their free time: You’ll see me and my kids in the neighborhood doing work. I served on the early childhood education committee, the Chamber of Commerce, the Parks Commission, the CVB. As someone who is educated with work experience, I take a seat wherever possible and have a conversation. I find a way to move the work forward; I am constantly looking for ways to better our city and community. I really believe in being of service—serving the people. 

Who is funding or endorsing your campaign?

The people, the neighborhoods, the influencers, people who are doing the work. I am completely funded by community members and small businesses. I will have an independent voice to support constituents. 

Do you have plans for higher office?

I have no plans; this is not a springboard for me. This run for City Council was not in the plans, but I felt it was necessary.

Misi Tagaloa

→ Read the entire interview with Misi Tagaloa here.

Misi Tagaloa, 54, is a pastor and CEO of a housing nonprofit who has lived in District 1 for 25 years. He is a registered Democrat. 

Read the Post’s profile on Miss Tagaloa here.

Why did you decide to run? 

I decided to run because the challenges are still there. We don’t have a neighborhood library, a fact that undergirds the insitutional treatment of the 1st District over the years. There are so many things that could be better in the district. We don’t have a person who represents the district and represents them well. I want to serve. When my dad died in 1994, I learned there was a lot more important things in life than climbing the corporate ladder. I want my life to count for something. 

The 1st District has some of the highest rates of violence among the city, including shootings. What solutions do you have to reduce gun violence? And does that include increasing the number of police officers?

I would like to see an increase in police officers, but I don’t think that’s where the solution comes from. It comes from a sense of belonging. There are a lot of crimes that go unreported. It’s so complicated, I’m not sure there’s a political solution for it. When we all come together and work together we may be able to solve these problems. It becomes part of our ethos.

What type of solutions would you propose or support to provide more affordable housing? Is rent control part of your plan?

You have to build more housing. One of the reasons we don’t have affordable housing is supply and demand. We need to build more. I am an affordable housing exective, and one challenge is finding resources. You could something like block grants that don’t need to be paid back. It costs about $500,000 to build an affordable housing unit, so you need someone who’s paying about $5,000 a unit to finance that. If you’re building for those people they can only pay about $1,300. The difference has to come from municpalities, through bond initiatives, or other creative ways of filling that gap. I am on record as being against rent control. 

How would you address the homelessness crisis in the District, including the issues associated with homelessness like mental illness and addiction?

There are no easy answers to this. Building relationships with them is a good start, and holding their hand. If this were a perfect world—when I grew up in our village, we had super nannies, people who look after the kids; they pay attention to what’s going on—I think we’re missing that in the 1st District. We need to invite them to programs that are available to them. I do believe in housing first: we need to solve homelessness, then introduce a program to get people involved. 

What is your plan for improving air quality in Long Beach? Do you support the expansion of the 710 Freeway and the use of MHF in nearby refineries?

We need to remove those pollutants, causes and origins or pollutants. Ultimately that’s what we need to do. If we are committed to purifying the air, the Alameda Corridor has to be electrified, and we must modify our appetite for fossil fuel. I don’t think electing any one person is going to solve this. We need to figure out, what is the real cost for doing business, and factor in the poisoning the environment.

What have you personally contributed to the District? 

I have a wife and I have three kids; I paid attention to them, and now they’re great kids; I felt good having three less kids causing problems in the hood. What you do doesn’t have to be heroic. Things like taking out the trash, helping, listening without loss—these are things that can make change and make a difference in the world. 

Who is funding and endorsing your campaign? 

Vice mayor Dee Andrews has endorsed me. My family is funding the bulk of my campaign. 

Do you have plans for higher office?

I have no plans for higher office.

Mary Zendejas

→ Read the entire interview with Mary Zendejas here.

Mary Zendejas, 48, is a disabled resources advocate who has lived in Long Beach for 30 years and in District 1 for five years. She is a registered Democrat. 

Read the Post’s profile on Mary Zendejas here.

Why did you decide to run?

I felt that I needed to step up for my community and it was the right time to do so. 

The 1st District has some of the highest rates of violence among the city, including shootings. What solutions do you have to reduce gun violence? And does that include increasing the number of police officers?

We need to focus on rebuilding trust in the community with our police officers; we really need that right now. We need to have more community policing and have more officers involved in the community. I do believe they try their best to keep us safe; there’s a lot of violence going on in the 1st District and it’s crucial to have a strong relationship with public safety. It’s necessary to invest in youth programs; they are the ones who fall through the cracks.  As far as increased officers: If the money is there, but I think we have good police officers and we should work with the ones we have.  

What type of solutions would you propose or support to provide more affordable housing? Is rent control part of your plan?

I’ve been an affordable housing advocate for a very long time. Because of my personal story, I always wanted to be independent. I had polio when I was 8 months old. My parents immigrated because they wanted better health care. They also gave me a chance at life. I was the first in my family of nine siblings to graduate from high school, the first to become a U.S. citizen, the first to get a degree from Cal State Long Beach. But housing has always been an issue. I got my first apartment and had to get four roommates, then found another place and was there for 20 years. The last 10 years I did not have accessibility after I wasn’t able to stand up again. But I was there because I could not find an accessible affordable house for me. We need to build more housing. We have 1,700 units in the 1st District that are rent stabilized, which is more than the whole city of Long Beach. But we need to build more. There’s not of space, not only just in Long Beach, but  throughout the state. We need to increase the density. If we have an opportunity to build we need to build—and at all income levels. Rent control passed at the state level, and I think that’s a step in the right direction, but we don’t have enough to house everyone. We have section 8, but there’s nowhere to house people. 

How would you address the homelessness crisis in the District, including the issues associated with homelessness like mental illness and addiction?

Homelessness is hard; I am broken-hearted every morning when I get up and see people living on the sidewalk. We really need to find housing for them. That’s urgent. We need to find shelter for them, and not only just temporary, but permanent housing with wraparound services so that they are prepared with the tools that are able to go on on their own. We have to put a stop to chronic homelessness, and it’s up to us in the community to do something about. Children cannot learn under these circumstances. Housing is very important. I want to build, and have shelters for the homeless, because it’s urgent now. We need more shelters. A lot of our homeless are drug addicts, because of the trauma they’re going through. Not only do we have to help in that area, but provide services to help them wean off drugs and stay there. Mental illness, trauma with being homeless and trauma that made you homeless. 

What is your plan for improving air quality in Long Beach? Do you support the expansion of the 710 Freeway and the use of MHF in nearby refineries?

This is one of the reasons I’m running. The district is right next to the 710, and right by the port. I am very happy about being a Transit Board director, where we brought in zero emissions buses; for every bus we retire, we bring in a zero emission bus. We need to create some kind of program so that all trucks coming to our port are zero emission; I know it’s not going to happen overnight but if we don’t start it’s never going to happen. We need to have a factory in Long Beach where we can build our own zero emission trucks. On the 710 expansion: I am in favor—but if we could find a way where those businesses and residents would not be displaced, that would be more priority. On the use of the MHF chemical: I wish we didn’t have to use it; it pollutes our air and causes so many problems, not only for us, but for the children.

What have you personally contributed to District 1? 

I’ve been an advocate, always reaching out to families. I am a big advocate of affordable housing; I served at Housing Long Beach for five years. A lot of our work had to do with helping familiars who were going through hard times in the district. I’ve also spent time advocating for people with disabilities; that’s a passion for me as well. I’ve been getting to know a lot of residents in the 1st District who have disabilities. 

Who is funding or endorsing your campaign?

Everyone. I’m very proud of all my endorsements, especially the ones that come from the community. I have 75 community leaders out of the 1st District and citywide, elected officials, including Mayor Robert Garcia and state Sen. Lena Gonzalez, both of whom held the seat prior to this. They have done a lot of hard work in the 1st District, and they want someone in the 1st District who is strong enough to continue to do good work. I have police and fire; I am definitely proud of that. Being a disabled woman, I rely on public safety to continue to be an indepenendt woman.

Do you have plans for higher office?

At the moment I don’t—but I didn’t have plans for this office, so I’m not going to say no.