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.