By Zamna Avila, Assistant Editor – January 24, 2014
Martha Flores-Gibson is aiming to represent Long Beach Council District 3, which is up for grabs at the April 8 Primary Nominating Elections.
Flores-Gibson is vying Jack Rosenberg, Jim Lewis, Stephen Bello and Susan Price will vie to represent the council district that termed-out Councilman Gary DeLong.
Her priorities include:
Public safety, infrastructure and quality of life services such libraries and parks, an an aquatics hall for the Belmont Plaza Pool replacement.
Addressing poverty, education, mental health, social services and jobs
District specific projects such as the 2nd Street and Pacific Coast Highway project, Naples Seawalls, and Beaches and waterways water quality.
Martha Flores-Gibson has lived live in Long Beach for 53 of her 59 years.
Flores-Gibson is a retired counselor and social worker of the Long Beach Unified School District, where she worked for 24 years.
“I’m invested in the community,” she said. “I have what it takes. I’ve worked in all levels of government. I can work with nonprofits together with the private sector and come to the table with solutions.”
Flores-Gibson is an immigrant from El Salvador, her mother brought her to the United States when she was six years old. They first moved, with her step-father, to Wichita, Kan. Within six months she learned English. She later earned a bachelor and master degree in social work, as well as a doctorate degree in education.
“My mother said, ‘You work hard and you are going to get ahead,” she said. “So my siblings — my two brothers and my sister and I — we worked hard. We worked hard on our grades, we worked at our workplace and we are all very successful individuals.”
Though much of her life has been dedicated to education, she is not a newcomer to politics.
In 2010, Lowenthal won 56.6 percent to 43.4 percent.
“I didn’t run against Bonnie Lowenthal,” she said. “I ran against the dynasty of Long Beach … Mind you, I had never ran before. I was handicapped by raising the funds.”
In 2012, Flores-Gibson was again defeated, with Lowenthal garnering 65.8 percent of the vote versus her 34.2 percent votes.
This time around she is looking forward to being elected and adding to the work of her predecessor. Rather than just changing what she believes need to be changed, she would like to continue the work of Councilman Gary DeLong and enhance his work, she said.
“Gary DeLong, along with the mayor and the city council put together proposals in a difficult time was able to now have surplus,” she said. “We don’t want to misspend funds. We want to use those funds in a conservative manner. However, the services that are critical needed must go on.”
Home to beautiful ocean views, shopping centers, parks, a popular university, a veteran’s hospital and an upper middle class community District 3 brings much revenue to the city’s budget. Flores-Gibson wants to add to long-term business growth.
“Our district is vital to all of Long Beach as well as Long Beach is vital to the 3rd District,” she said. “So, there is an exchange that happens and we need a healthy exchange.”
Though this may not be the time to do so yet, she would like to start an economical development committee, comprised of community members and expert consultants. The committee could bring businesses to District 3 that are eyesores to the community, such as the Seaport Village, near Second Street and Pacific Coast Highway, she said.
In the process, she hopes to bring cutting-edge businesses, such as engineering jobs.
“How about bringing some of the technology that is in Northern California, the Silicon Valley, here, in these parts?” asked Flores-Gibson, rhetorically. “Then, you can come up with what is the next step of bringing stellar businesses to augment the businesses that are already here.”
One way to do so is to do away with regulations and taxes that strangle businesses, she said.
“I want them to have a gap where they are not struggling,” she said. “I rather have the revenue become a part of what makes them strong.”
But that also takes changing the culture mindset toward business, not just bureaucracy, she said.
“It’s a culture of saying to the outer cities, to the state of California and to the United States of America … that we in Long Beach and in the 3rd District are open to business.”
Nevertheless, Flores-Gibson, a registered Republican, understands that spending also is part of the equation when it comes to any community to prosper, especially when it comes to services such public safety and education.
“I believe it is really ethical to make sure that if it’s a life and death situation that we have the fire engines and the police officers to handle a crisis in the district,” said Flores-Gibson, whose district lost Fire Engine 8, due to a miscalculation in funds coming in from the state, this past year. “You can’t take away after-school program activities. When you take education and afterschool programs for the students, then it doesn’t provide them the gateway to opportunities. Those two services go hand-in-hand.”
Public safety and education are important to the economics of the city, especially now, with the realignment of non-violent criminals, she said. Beyond drawing funds from the court and pulling from other department, investing in public safety will in turn lead to less crime and more revenue for the city. Because, it is all related, she said.
“If you have gang violence and you have poverty, which one third of Long Beach is [in] poverty, you are not going to get the businesses or the corporations that want to come and invest in this community,” she said.
Lowering crime rates is not limited to prevention and enforcement, training, rehabilitation, affordable housing and jobs must also be part of the equation. However, these efforts must be part of a private-public partnership, she said.
“You can’t say, ‘This is all your responsibility,’” Flores-Gibson said. “You can’t say that. This is all about partnerships.”
Another issue Flores-Gibson will have to deal with, if elected, is the continual saga that is the medical marijuana issue.
While she sympathizes with patients and believes they shouldn’t be denied treatment, she also questions whether it is an issue that should be dealt with at the city level.
“Shouldn’t it be in the hands of the public sector and private industry and the free enterprise?” she questioned. “Should it be in the hands of the city council or should it be in the hands of the businesses, which it is a business, no matter how you slice it and who it is for?”
So far, Flores-Gibson has garnered the endorsements of the California Women’s Leadership Association, a statewide group that believes in free market principles, and GROW Elect, a political action committee that recruits endorses and funds Latino Republican candidates for public office, among others.
Campaign contributions for her candidacy are still are being tallied.
“I believe I am the full package of understanding, mediation and I’m an advocate for our most vulnerable constituents, [who] are children, youth, vets and seniors,” she said. “I will work harder than anyone on that ballot and the voters can count on me to do just that …. Winning this seat means I’m committed not only to the 3rd District but to all of Long Beach”