2024 City Council District 4

Select two or more candidates to compare their answers to our reporters' questions below. You will find a section of each candidate's interview highlighted that editors felt best summarized each answer. Click on the highlighted portion to read the candidate's full answer.
Herlinda Chico
Daryl Supernaw
Amrit Singh
Gerrie Schipske

Herlinda Chico

→ Read Herlinda Chico's complete answers here

1. After more than a year under a state of emergency in response to homelessness, it remains one of the most pressing issues facing Long Beach. What would you do differently to address this crisis of housing, addiction and mental health?

A long-term strategic approach is crucial to tackling the persistent homelessness crisis in Long Beach effectively. Building on recent success under emergency orders, the primary focus should now be investing funds in operations for a 24/7 response to homelessness. This aims to establish a sustainable system that persists beyond emergency measures.

Enhancing collaboration among different agencies is vital to creating an efficient and responsive support system. The success of emergency orders highlights the potential of collective action, but bureaucratic challenges have impeded progress. Investment in operations ensuring 24/7 access to resources can overcome these hurdles.

As emergency orders phase out, addressing root causes and establishing a foundation for enduring solutions is imperative. Investing in a 24/7 response system, fostering inter-agency collaboration, and prioritizing permanent supportive housing will create lasting change, improving the well-being of those affected by homelessness in Long Beach.

2. The city has recently had extensive hiring shortages affecting everything from trash pickup to police and fire response. How would you speed hiring and improve retention?

I was glad to hear this topic featured at Mayor Richardson’s recent State of the City address. I am encouraged by the new direction to solve this issue internally and at the ballot box. However, in addition to the solutions that are currently being proposed, we must collaborate directly with employees and their unions to understand the concerns and needs of our workforce. It is important to evaluate job responsibilities, salaries, benefits, and any obstacles hindering the hiring process. We must also keep in mind that our employees are human beings, and their experiences and mental wellness directly impact the efficiency of city operations. Addressing the underlying causes of hiring shortages and prioritizing employee satisfaction will also strengthen the foundation for a dedicated and resilient city workforce. 

3. Long Beach has long been dependent on oil revenue, but that stream of money is going away. How should the city make up that revenue to avoid major budget deficits?

Long Beach’s commendable shift away from reliance on oil revenue demonstrates a commitment to environmental justice and ensuring our financial budget reflects our values. To effectively offset diminishing oil revenue, a strategic focus on supporting existing businesses and expanding new sectors, such as the growing Space Beach economy, is essential.

Nurturing new sectors can cultivate a diverse economic landscape, contributing to financial resilience. 

Other promising sectors like wind energy and expanded rail operations provide additional opportunities for diversifying the revenue base and positioning the city at the forefront of sustainable industries. Proactive engagement with these sectors and exploring incentives for ancillary businesses to locate or relocate inside our city is crucial for building Long Beach’s economic activity.

This transition is not merely about replacing funds; it’s an opportunity to promote innovation, environmental sustainability, and economic growth. By investing in evolving sectors and fostering a business-friendly environment, Long Beach can overcome the decline in oil revenue and build a solid and sustainable economic future.

4. East Long Beach is home to some of the worst-rated streets in the city, but, currently, the city’s approach to road repairs focuses on keeping good streets in good condition while letting bad streets get worse. How do you feel about this approach and what will you do to address street conditions in East Long Beach?

The condition of streets in East Long Beach is a critical concern, especially considering the city’s current approach to road repairs. The focus on maintaining good streets in good condition while allowing deteriorating streets to worsen is a matter of significant consequence for residents. This approach perpetuates the existing disparities and poses long-term challenges for the community.

I am deeply concerned about the implications of this method, and I plan to work with my colleagues on the City Council to implement a more equitable and proactive strategy for road repairs. Rather than concentrating solely on preserving good streets, I advocate for a comprehensive plan that prioritizes the rehabilitation of poorly rated streets.

My proposed approach involves a shift toward preventive maintenance, targeting streets with lower ratings to prevent further deterioration. By investing in timely repairs and upgrades for the poorly-rated streets, we can break the cycle of neglect and create a more inclusive and fair infrastructure maintenance system. 

5. The Long Beach Airport is an important driver of business in the city but is also a source of noise complaints from residents. What do you think the city should do to ensure that airport operations are not affecting the quality of life for residents neighboring the facility?

The Long Beach Airport is an essential asset for the city and is vital to our local economy. However, it has complexities and limitations due to federal regulations that cannot be underestimated. As it was noted in a recent City Council meeting, the Long Beach Airport receives grants from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and as a result, the FAA has the power to enforce and regulate without considering the quality of life of impacted residents. Although several flight schools are voluntarily coming to the table to work on this complex issue, more is needed for many people.

Collaborative efforts with federal leaders are crucial in addressing the intersection of airport operations and residents’ quality of life. To achieve a more balanced approach, we must explore new federal legislative opportunities to increase local control, specifically over the types of businesses and operations allowed next to residential areas. Overall, I am encouraged by the steps the city of Long Beach is taking and believe that the actions and recommendations laid out, despite the limited oversight the city has, is the right path to take.

Daryl Supernaw

→ Read Daryl Supernaw's complete answers here

1. After more than a year under a state of emergency in response to homelessness, it remains one of the most pressing issues facing Long Beach. What would you do differently to address this crisis of housing, addiction and mental health?

Regarding the homelessness housing crisis, I would like to replicate what I’ve done in the past as opposed to doing something differently. We need more projects like the 76-unit development “26.2” that provides single apartments for previously unhoused, low-income residents. The developer approached me for assistance with acquiring “project vouchers” for the $41 million residential building at the corner of PCH and Loma. The project simply was not happening due to the lack of rent vouchers. I was able to work with city staff to secure that funding source, and construction is now completed. I am very proud of helping to make the project happen, and I would like to see similar projects come to fruition.

Regarding addiction and mental health, I brought forth the council agenda item to support the Care Court system proposed by Governor Newsom. We need to make long-term plans for the rollout of this system and maximize our involvement so it addresses our needs. We also need to continue our collaboration with the outside agencies, such as LA County and Caltrans, but we need greater alignment on response time. I will be working hard to encourage both agencies to address encampments in a more expeditious manner.

Finally, we will continue to encourage residents to use our council office as a clearing house on reporting all issues surrounding homelessness. We work very closely with Homeless Services and LBPD on coordinating reports to our office and addressing encampments. Council District 4 is very complex in that we interface with multiple County, State and Federal jurisdictions along with ten different police agencies. It requires a great deal of council office coordination to direct resident concerns to the right place. We have also assisted individuals in working within the system to find temporary housing and eventually into permanent supportive housing.

2. The city has recently had extensive hiring shortages affecting everything from trash pickup to police and fire response. How would you speed hiring and improve retention?

We have made tremendous progress in resolving the hiring shortages over the last two months. Long Beach Fire Department staffing had been a challenge for a very long time, but on December 6, it was announced that we now have full staffing. This was accomplished by LBFD conducting a large recruit class that produced 39 probationary firefighters. That was more than enough to fill the 19 sworn vacancies and relieve the need for mandatory callbacks. There are also systematic changes proposed that will drastically streamline the hiring process. On January 18, the city announced a charter amendment proposal to reform civil service. The goal is to modernize our recruitment and hiring processes by transferring administrative responsibilities to the Human Resources Department. I believe we are well on our way to finding permanent solutions to our hiring challenges.

3. Long Beach has long been dependent on oil revenue, but that stream of money is going away. How should the city make up that revenue to avoid major budget deficits?

There is no instant fix for the loss of oil revenue. We will likely need to consider smaller budget cuts to avoid major budget deficits. I have stated publicly that City Council should think long and hard before cutting public safety assets to balance a budget as was done in the past. It took a major effort to restore Fire Engine 17, so we need to work very hard to find new revenue resources. This includes industries exemplified by Space Beach, but it also includes enhancing the business environment to recruit new businesses. In Council District 4, this started with the “Retail Renaissance” that took place near the traffic circle. It is continuing with the investment Fletcher Jones is making in Porsche Long Beach and the new Sports Basement that will occupy the former Sears building. These are very positive signs that Long Beach has the potential to develop the new revenue sources.

4. East Long Beach is home to some of the worst-rated streets in the city, but, currently, the city’s approach to road repairs focuses on keeping good streets in good condition while letting bad streets get worse. How do you feel about this approach and what will you do to address street conditions in East Long Beach?

I understand the rationale behind the Pavement Management System utilized by Public Works because I’ve worked with it for nearly nine years. The worst-rated streets are very expensive to repair, so there is an obligation to prevent good streets from becoming worst-rated streets. One way we free up funds for street repaving is to use our office operating budget to fund sidewalk, curb and gutter repairs. We accomplish this by running our office at an efficiency level that enables us to save, on average, 46% of our office operating budget to fund sidewalk, curb and gutter repairs. That percentage equates to an average amount of $217,000 per year. The savings is directed back into the community in the form of infrastructure repairs, tree trimming and community events. In the case of sidewalks, curbs and gutters, we do repair of the worst-rated.

5. The Long Beach Airport is an important driver of business in the city but is also a source of noise complaints from residents. What do you think the city should do to ensure that airport operations are not affecting the quality of life for residents neighboring the facility?

I have spent a number of years and have a wealth of experience working with airport noise impacted neighborhoods as both a private citizen and an elected official. City Council had tremendous success in addressing commercial air carrier noise violations a few years ago. We did it by working with our City Attorney and outside legal counsel to guide us through the intricacies of our noise ordinance so that it was never in jeopardy. At the time, I was accused of being very aggressive in protecting Council District 4 from late-night noise violations. All I did was expose to the public the actual numbers JetBlue Airways was racking up in terms of fines from late-night noise violations. JetBlue ultimately decided to leave Long Beach, and the noise issues for commercial aircraft left with them. Unfortunately for the airline, they have not improved on their operational issues. Since leaving LGB, the Wall Street Journal has named JetBlue the worst airline in the U.S. for three years in a row. I believe we can develop solutions with the General Aviation noise issues by using the same measured approach and due diligence. We will develop policies and find agreements that will serve both the airport business community and noise impacted neighborhoods.

Amrit Singh

→ Read Amrit Singh's complete answers here

1. After more than a year under a state of emergency in response to homelessness, it remains one of the most pressing issues facing Long Beach. What would you do differently to address this crisis of housing, addiction and mental health?

My plan is that private industries should be allowed to participate to extend their support. Homeless people should be given a physical and any able-bodied person should be required to work in participating industries. In that way, they will be able to rent an apartment and will not return to Skid Row. Even if we remove one person from the homeless community, that will be a positive and definite change.

2. The city has recently had extensive hiring shortages affecting everything from trash pickup to police and fire response. How would you speed hiring and improve retention?

As you can see, from my above point in answer to question one, there will be some workforce available at a minimal entry job pay scale that will address the shortage of labor. Then also, we can adjust and appropriate the budget in such a way that we can hire more people.

3. Long Beach has long been dependent on oil revenue, but that stream of money is going away. How should the city make up that revenue to avoid major budget deficits?

I do not know the motors apprentice, in which way the oil revenue has been depleted. I am for progress and development and I think all efforts should be made to let the wild wells work as long as they meet the requirements not to pollute the environment. I think we should not waste our natural resources and we should utilize them.

4. East Long Beach is home to some of the worst-rated streets in the city, but, currently, the city’s approach to road repairs focuses on keeping good streets in good condition while letting bad streets get worse. How do you feel about this approach and what will you do to address street conditions in East Long Beach?

I think we should treat all citizens equally, and that includes all streets equally and repair all the streets, especially potholes and the damaging pits in the roads. Again, having participation by private industry, we should give them tax credits so that they can participate in the repair of the roads.

5. The Long Beach Airport is an important driver of business in the city but is also a source of noise complaints from residents. What do you think the city should do to ensure that airport operations are not affecting the quality of life for residents neighboring the facility?

I think Long Beach Airport is a great asset and source of income to the city and we should develop it as much as we can. But the citizen should be a little bit more patient and adjustable and understanding, and not be over-sensitive about the inconvenience of the sound. To give you an example there are so many planes that fly over my house in Bixby Hill. I don’t even know when they come in or when they go because I am busy doing my work. I think we should be more accommodating to let the city develop the airport. We do not have the good fortune of having the airport next to the seaside because Los Angeles’ airport has directed the planes to land and take off to the sea instead of over the populated area.

Gerrie Schipske

→ Read Gerrie Schipske's complete answers here

1. After more than a year under a state of emergency in response to homelessness, it remains one of the most pressing issues facing Long Beach. What would you do differently to address this crisis of housing, addiction and mental health?

There needs to be an immediate assessment of the money and programs utilized to date to determine what worked and why and why not. We need to assess if we are truly dealing correctly with homelessness by reviewing research.

An extensive study — “Toward a New Understanding The California Statewide Study of People Experiencing Homelessness” found that:

  • The homeless population is aging, and minoritized groups are overrepresented. 
  • People experiencing homelessness in California are Californians.
  • Participants have been homeless for prolonged periods.
  • Participants reported how stress and trauma over the life course preceded their experience with homelessness.
  • Physical and sexual victimization throughout the life course was common.
  • Participants reported high lifetime rates of mental health and substance use challenges. 
  • The most common reason for leaving last housing was economic for leaseholders and social for non-leaseholders.
  • Many participants had symptoms of mental health conditions; few had access to treatment. 
  • Substance use, particularly methamphetamine use, was common; few received treatment.

The report made six recommendations to deal with homelessness:

  1. Increase access to housing affordable to extremely low-income households.
  2. Expand targeted homelessness prevention.
  3. Provide robust supports to match the behavioral health needs of the population.
  4. Increase household incomes through evidence-based employment supports.
  5. Increase outreach and service delivery to people experiencing homelessness, including a focus on unsheltered settings.
  6. Embed a racial equity approach in all aspects of homeless system service delivery. 

Finally, the city needs to assess how it can participate in the Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Court which is a new framework to get people with mental health and substance use disorders the support and care they need. CARE Court connects a person struggling with untreated mental illness — and often also substance use challenges — with a court-ordered care plan for up to 24 months.

2. The city has recently had extensive hiring shortages affecting everything from trash pickup to police and fire response. How would you speed hiring and improve retention?

I taught Human Resources Management at CSULB for 6 years and the basic premise every employer needs to know is that if you are having trouble staffing you need to assess why.

Long Beach needs to look at three specific bottlenecks in the hiring process:

– the Civil Service system and Commission, which regulate the hiring of non-management city employees and determine who is placed on the eligibility list

– labor contracts which specify positions that can be filled in a department

– the impact of COVID on the workforce which now demands a different work environment

The problems related to hiring shortages are not only being faced by Long Beach but many other cities as well — a fact addressed in the August 2023 edition of Western Cities: “The struggle is real, but so are the options. How cities can attract a strong workforce.”

The article discusses cities and how they are struggling to fill vacancies. The Institute for the Local Government found: It is no secret that cities are struggling to hire and retain staff. California cities employ about 326,000 employees — a 7% reduction compared to pre-pandemic staffing levels. A study from the Institute for Local Government found that nearly 70% of California’s cities, counties, and special districts are struggling with limited hiring pools, record-level resignations, and training the next generation of leaders.

The Institute notes: Local governments are increasingly looking at registered apprenticeships as a way to meet their staffing needs, in part because of their cost-effectiveness. Registered apprenticeships provide a high-quality, structured pathway into a career, built on clear standards that lay out the requirements of the job the apprentice is pursuing. Though public sector registered apprenticeships are relatively new, they are growing rapidly thanks to incentives and support provided by the state and federal government.

3. Long Beach has long been dependent on oil revenue, but that stream of money is going away. How should the city make up that revenue to avoid major budget deficits? 

Many countries and states are facing the decrease in dependence upon oil and gas revenues and have recognized the importance of diversifying their economy and developing alternative, clean sources of energy. To ease the transition from fossil fuels in California, Governor Newsom has proposed $65 million to support and retrain displaced oil and gas workers, $200 million to clean up abandoned wells and $450 million to help communities diversify their economies.

Long Beach needs to:

– Apply for state funds to help diversify our economy.

Attract new sectors of jobs, particularly clean energy jobs, and partner with our local education systems to develop training programs.

– Earmark portions of current oil and gas revenues to be utilized to create clean sources of energy such as wind and solar.

– Replace the Southeast Resource Recovery Facility (SERRF) where the city processes the garbage collected and processes it through one of three boilers. In addition, SERRF performs “front-end” and “back-end” recycling by recovering such items as white goods prior to incineration and collecting metals removed from the city after incineration. Each month, an average of 825 tons of metal are recycled rather than sent to a landfill. Finally, the steam generated from burning the refuse is used to drive the turbine-generator producing electricity. Some of the electricity produced is used to operate the facility and the remainder is sold. A number of state laws have changed the incentive for cities to burn refuse rather than take to landfills. Additionally, state law is requiring cities to dispose of organic waste without dumping it in landfills — where it generates methane, a greenhouse gas.

– Start educating the electorate on the impact of reduced oil and gas revenues and the need to convert to clean energy.

4. East Long Beach is home to some of the worst-rated streets in the city, but, currently, the city’s approach to road repairs focuses on keeping good streets in good condition while letting bad streets get worse. How do you feel about this approach and what will you do to address street conditions in East Long Beach?

I was dubbed “Queen of Sidewalks” when I represented the 5th Council District which is roughly 1/2 of the newly drawn 4th District. The moniker was given because I made it a priority to assess infrastructure and engage residents in the decisions of prioritizing repairs and seeking funding. The residents, my staff and I walked EVERY street in the council district several times and recorded what needed to be repaired. Those reports were then put into maps by Public Works. Residents were involved in meetings at which infrastructure was discussed and residents voted on which projects were funded first. These decisions were submitted to Public Works and publicly disclosed so that residents could track.

In 2016 and then 2020, voters approved Measure A which raised the city sales tax to one of the highest in the state with the promise the funds would be used to improve infrastructure and public safety. We need to assess how many of the projects listed for the measure actually were funded, what remains and the priority of each. Unfortunately, curbs, streets and sidewalks were included in a long list of improvements to buildings and parks.

5. The Long Beach Airport is an important driver of business in the city but is also a source of noise complaints from residents. What do you think the city should do to ensure that airport operations are not affecting the quality of life for residents neighboring the facility? 

The LB Airport operates under the strictest Airport Noise Compatibility ordinance, that establishes noise levels and flying curfews. The city operates a Noise Office and has 18 noise monitors located throughout the city; 99% identification rate of violators; Airport Noise and Operations System; noise budget to keep aircraft noise below state mandated 65 dB CNEL. Additionally, the Airport provides WebTrak6 to allow residents to monitor flights and noise levels. In 2010, I worked to get the city to implement a sound insulation program to address 27 homes identified as incompatible land uses in the LB Airport Terminal Area Improvement Project. The Airport does not currently have any incompatible land uses exposed to noise levels in excess of 65 CNEL. The city should possibly amend the noise ordinance to increase the fines within the current fine structure such as fining, instead of giving a warning for first violations.