By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor
The special election to replace Patrick O’Donnell on the Long Beach City Council is just around the corner.
Three District 4 candidates are vying to convince voters that they are the best choice for the job to replace O’Donnell, who assumed office in the California Assembly in December. Herlinda Chico, Daryl Supernaw and Richard Lindemann are in the winner-take-all race that culminates April 14.
Chico and Supernaw ran for office in 2012, but O’Donnell, who was termed out, ran for reelection as a write-in candidate. Chico withdrew from the race and Supernaw stuck it out. Though Supernaw won the primary, O’Donnell won the write-in election.
This time around he said he is tweaking his approach to his campaign.
“In 2012, I did not mail out a single flier,” Supernaw said. “I just walked the district. This time I’m doing mailings. While walking is a good experience, you can’t get everybody.”
Not having to run against an eight-year incumbent also makes a difference, he said. In 2012, O’Donnell also had the support of both political parties and labor unions.
“I was based on keeping partisan politics out of this and still am,” he said. “I did not list any endorsements. I opted not to do that.”
Lindemann, who described himself as a “dark horse” during a February forum, declined an interview with Random Lengths News, saying only, “I don’t think so.” The newcomer is running a self-funded campaign. He said he didn’t want to cater to self-interest groups such as unions.
“I understand who I want to represent, not who I’ve been paid to represent,” said Lindemann, during the Feb. 24 forum that was hosted by the East Anaheim Street Business Alliance at the Long Beach Playhouse. “I’m not taking any donations for my campaign, because I don’t work for unions or PACs or any other groups.”
The comment did not fall on deaf ears. Chico, who does list her endorsements and has a prominent endorsement from the Long Beach Police Officers Association, called it “union-bashing” in her closing remarks.
Chico is cognizant that not everyone considers the police union endorsement positive support for her campaign, particularly in light of national demonstrations against brutality.
“I was just having this conversation with a friend of mine who has issues with law enforcement and what I tried to explain to him [that it] was my experience,” said Chico, in a subsequent interview. “I have never had one negative encounter with law enforcement. It just hasn’t happened. I don’t know what it is like to be harassed the way he says that he’s been harassed or made to feel a certain way. But I can tell you that I listened to him. I need to hear his perspective and his experiences.”
In terms of public safety, Chico said she believes community engagement can make a lasting impact.
Chico said she would like to model the work of former District 9 Councilman Steve Neal. He identified leaders in his community and asked them to take charge of their blocks through neighborhood associations.
But jobs and bringing in development are essential long-term fixes. No only are there vacant lots, but there are also vacant warehouses that could be developed. In her conversations with community leaders, Chico said she believes Bixby Knoll is an exemplary model.
Supernaw also said he sees potential for economic development in District 4 and throughout the city. He believes Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia’s revitalized economic development department is a step forward. He would like to include corporate partnerships, such as naming rights, as a form of revenue stream.
“It gets others involved and just a lot of name recognition,” Supernaw said. “Long Beach seems to have a lot of untapped potential.”
Defining that potential must come with a clear understanding of district-specific issues.
West Side Story
While District 4 is a cornucopia of people, there is a clear social, economic and ethnic divide between the east side and the west side of the district. The east side (east of Redondo Avenue) is more affluent and predominantly more concerned with quality of life issues, such as increased street repair and noise pollution. The west side, which includes a large Cambodian and Latino community, also struggles with poverty, affordable housing and public safety.
Supernaw, who boasts of being a lifelong District 4 resident, said he’s advocated for the west side over the years.
“We need to put more resources into where the challenges are,” he said.
Chico agreed. She said she’s been meeting with Cambodian leaders. She would like to seek funding for community centers and support a business improvement district in the area. She also would like to address the aging water infrastructure in the city.
“I’d also look at possibly getting some interpretation devices to make it a little bit more welcoming,” Chico said. “We have Khmai speakers. We have Spanish speakers. Those are things we have to look into to attract and engage and make it welcoming to everybody on the west side.”
Airport Noise Ordinance
Recent news that JetBlue is seeking to provide international flights to and from Long Beach sparked concerns of new lawsuits and the reopening of an established ordinance that brought some measure of peace between the airport and the surrounding residents.
JetBlue has stated it has no interest in changing the city’s strict noise ordinance, but other situations may arise. Other airlines may want to do the same and that may result in a very litigious battle.
“We want to make sure that if JetBlue is the only one that is occupying those slots right now and they get to expand to international flights, that we are not going to have other airlines saying, ‘Hey, we want some of those flights, too,’” Chico said.
“We just have to be careful. I am not saying an absolute ‘no’ but we have to be very careful and look to the people who have been dealing with this for a very long time. We have fantastic staff members who know the history of the airport. So, our city prosecutor Doug Haubert, Mike Mayes, they have done a fantastic job.”
Supernaw, whose wife was on the original HUSH (Homes Under Stress and Hazard) group that got the noise ordinance in the first place, agrees.
“I would like to defer to our experts,” he said. “What I am hearing now is that there are some issues. There are some inherent threats with bringing the international flights forward.”
Other questions constituents are asking the candidates include their positions on the utility user’s tax, living wages ordinances, arts as a means to economic development, medical marijuana regulation, community meeting schedules and affordable housing ordinances.
“It’s important that we select someone who is a good reflection of the entire community,” Chico said.
“I have a strong business background,” Supernaw said. “I have presented … on three occasions to the city on new ideas for revenue streams.
Click hereto read a highlighted transcript of the Feb. 24 forum.
Click hereto read a highlighted transcript of an interview with Herlinda Chico.
Click here and flip to page 17 to read an article profiling Daryl Supernaw in March 2012.