Incumbent: Suzie Price
Suzie Price is a senior deputy district attorney running for re-election for District 3. She is challenged by environmental activist Gordana Kajer and High School teacher, Robert Savin. Price is a strong advocate for increased resources for law enforcement. If re-elected, Price aims to bring more business to Long Beach, a plan she believes will increase jobs and combat homelessness.
Price is opposed to rent control in Long Beach, noting that it would not be beneficial for property owners. She believes that the city needs to incentivize owners and developers to build more affordable housing.
One way Price plans to do this is to get landlords in affordable housing units to accept Section 8 housing vouchers to source a more reliable form of income. She also believes that bringing more jobs into the city will help alleviate the crisis. She is proud of the city for working with the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters through the Project Labor Agreement, in which citizens get first priority for those jobs.
- Fire and police department
The incumbent said she hopes that the city will be able to gradually add resources and increase funding to the fire and police departments in Long Beach through sales and property taxes. She hopes that as long as district three and the city are receiving more tax revenue, they will be able to improve the public departments and provide better care for Long Beach.
The councilwoman also stated that the city has taken good steps toward holding police officers accountable for their actions by requiring the use of body cameras within the department.
“Having these cameras will go a long way,” Price said. “Not only does it protect people, but it also protects police from any false allegations.”
- Sanctuary city
Price voted in favor of the Long Beach Values Act of 2018, which expands the protections given to undocumented residents by California’s Senate Bill No. 54. The senate bill prevents state and local law enforcement officials from sharing information about a person’s citizenship status in situations where the local and state agencies have a choice in cooperating with federal immigration authorities. The Values Act, which Price supported, expands this ban to employees of all city departments. She also supports the exceptions that allow information to be shared under SB-54.
“As a prosecutor I know what it means for someone to be convicted of the very serious crimes listed [in the bill],” Price said.
The state legislature allows law enforcement officials to share information with federal immigration authorities if the person wanted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement had been convicted of at least one of a series of crimes listed on the bill.
The incumbent voted against a portion of the act which would establish a fund meant to help undocumented residents obtain legal representation. Price defended her stance by explaining that, according to the city charter, public funds should only be used to represent a city employee or the city itself. The city council ultimately approved of the legal defense fund, and that $250,000 of the city’s general fund be designated for it.
Challenger: Gordana Kajer
Environmental activist and small business owner, Gordana Kajer, will run for District 3 against incumbent Suzie Price and High School teacher Robert Savin. She has shaped her candidacy around community outreach and addressing climate change on a local level.
- Community input
Kajer voiced her concerns about transparency within city council and explained how often decisions are made without input from the community.
“Too much of what I’ve seen is predetermined,” Kajer said. “Decisions are made then presented as a done deal. Not enough is being done to allow the community to communicate their problems.”
If elected, Kajer said she would make sure the Tidelands Fund involve the entire community, including various leaders of different organizations.
Currently, the funds can only be used for maintenance and developmental projects along the coastal zone. Kajer believes that while these projects only take place in one area, it will still affect the rest of the city, and therefore should involve the entire community to decide what the money should go toward.
Admitting full disclosure that she doesn’t have all of the answers, Kajer believes that just cause for eviction protections should be implemented by the city council. These protections aim to prevent the termination of a resident’s tenancy in a rental unit. Under the enforcement of just cause for eviction, a tenant could only be evicted if they violate at least one of the conditions established by the legislature which established these rules.
While unsure if rent control is the proper solution, she believes that the initiative will easily pass.
She also believes that Long Beach is in need of more affordable housing. Kajer aims to look at other cities in California grappling with a similar housing crisis and ultimately hopes to provide incentive for developers to build affordable homes.
The challenger believes that creating this housing will provide more jobs in Long Beach and in turn, people will want to work in the city because they can afford to live there.
“I think it starts with a community that feels as if they are safe, where neighborhoods reflect their resident’s interests and concerns for their neighborhood,” Kajer said. “When people feel as though they can’t afford to live in their local community, working in that local community is more difficult. If we can get homes and affordable housing in Long Beach, more people will want to work in Long Beach.”
Kajer noted that the Homeless Education and Response team has played an admirable role in responding to emergencies for those living on the streets and that their response times could be improved with additional funding.
- The environment
Less than pleased with plans to build a new pool at the Belmont Beach and Aquatic Center, Kajer has said that it’s not environmentally feasible due to rising sea levels. Instead, she suggested making the Belmont Plaza Pool into a permanent aquatics facility, which she thinks will require less engineering and funding because it will not be built on sand.
“When the original pool was built, we had a very different concept of environment in respect to coast and beach,” Kajer said. “Today we have [an] understanding of what’s happening to coastal zones and we must adapt.”
Challenger: Robert D. Savin
Robert D. Savin is a high school physics teacher with a background in electrical engineering.
- Taxes and spending
Savin was critical of the city’s use of funds collected by Measure A, a ten-year sales tax meant to fund public infrastructure and safety services.
“If any of this Measure A money is not being used, it’d be great if we could reduce it or reverse some of it if possible,” Savin said.
He stated that the only spending he would like to do is on the completion of the Belmont Beach and Aquatics Center.
- Addressing homelessness
According to news publication Beachcomber, Savin stated that Long Beach should study how other cities have dealt with homelessness.
- Rent control
“Rent control is fine except you can’t have both high taxes and rent control,” Savin said. “You have one or the other, so if we can get rid of all of these high taxes then rent control is fine.”
- Sanctuary city policies
Savin stated that he believes adopting sanctuary city policies will not help the city’s infrastructure, but he would follow what the state government decides.
- The environment
Savin claimed that because he does not want to spend a lot of city money, he would prefer to find out if desalination is financially feasible before running “an expensive survey.” He claims that this process would give the city an unlimited amount of water.
- Supporting the police and fire departments
“Whatever [police officers and fire departments] need we need to provide it for them,” Savin said.
The teacher stated that the primary purpose of city council was to provide for the fire and police departments. He believes that money collected from Measure A should be enough to provide for these institutions. Savin said that the majority of police are good but those who break rules should be punished.
- Communicating with the public
“If you’re coming in to voice your opinion, then I want to hear it,” Savin said. “I want people in the 3rd district to email me, tell me what you’re interested in.”
Savin stated that he wants to release information to the public as soon as he receives it.
- Supporting small businesses
The candidate cited these taxes and minimum wage increases as reasons why small businesses are closing.
“Stop increasing sales tax, that would help our small businesses,” Savin said.
He said he would like to promote small businesses and encourage residents to shop local.
When asked what that encouragement would look like, Savin said, “Anything I can think of.”
He said he would ask residents and business owners what helps attract customers and consider using events such as “Dine Out Long Beach” to promote small businesses.
“If it is [helping], [we’ll] have more,” Savin said.
- Public transit
Savin stated that he’s heard no complaints of the public transit services from residents, but that if he does hear any then he will address them.