Mayoral Candidate Doug Otto Ready to Serve Community
From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 23
by Steve Propes
Long Beach attorney Doug Otto avoided the rush, entering the mayoral race in April, about three months before Mayor Bob Foster announced his decision not to seek re-election via the write-in route. In fact, Otto was among the very first to enter the race.
“I was talking about Foster and whether he was going to run or not; the horses were leaving the gate, so we decided to do it in late April,” said Otto, who described his firm as “A pretty high level criminal practice combined with land use and administrative law.”
A 1966 Millikan High School product, Otto graduated from Stanford with a BA, received an MA in religion from Union Theological at Columbia University and his law degree from the University of Chicago.
As far as his mayoral aspirations, Long Beach-born Otto states, “The way I simplistically formulated a platform, I call it the four ‘Es’: economy, education, environment and equality. Twenty percent of people and children live in poverty, so you can’t say it’s a level playing field. My plan would provide opportunities, but also to take in consideration public safety, we need more cops. We’re at dangerously low levels.” However, Otto does note the financial crunch. “There’s about to be a fire academy and police academy. It’s a good start, but it’s not enough.”
To Otto, cops coming out of the academy are “Young and enthusiastic.” Otto cautions, “Young cops are young cops that need five years before they become effective administrators of law enforcement. I respect the decision-making that’s going on in the face of economic troubles and I’m not going to second guess decisions that have been made.”
Recently, a replacement city hall has been the subject of some debate in council chambers. Before that debate took place, Otto noted, “I haven’t seen the earthquake studies, but there are serious health and safety problems. How to do it, I believe in a PPP (public-private partnership), but you have to be careful how you do it. I’m glad the new courthouse was built with it, as it would never have been built without a PPP, though it’s three times more expensive as if we would have done it through bonds.”
Otto also discussed the controversy over marijuana dispensaries prior to the new acting city attorney being asked to opine on new regulations. “Dispensaries are such a mess the way it’s going right now, I believe in medicinal marijuana, but I would have it dispensed through pharmacies. People who suffer ought to have access to it.”
Otto has had his own well-publicized challenges as he went out of state to seek treatment for cancer. “I’ve been cancer-free for more than two years. The kind of cancer I had, if you go a year, you’re pretty home free. I go to the gym, walk 10,000 steps a day and resumed my law practice. I also was elected to the Long Beach City College Board of Trustees.”
As to his education profile, Otto noted “We have an outstanding K-12 district, a nationally recognized community college and the best of CSULB, but we need to be more focused on youth than we are now. Our community college mission is to improve the local economy. A lot of graduates start businesses in Orange County or on the west side of L.A. We need to develop policies to encourage young entrepreneurs to stay here. We could have waiver of business taxes for young entrepreneurs.
“There is room for more partnerships between the city and its institution of higher education.” As an example, Otto cited “The small business development center at Third Street and Pine Ave. It offers courses to small businesses on planning and technology. It’s been there two years and is doing well.”
Though citing the environment as a basic plank, Otto stated: “The plastic bag ban wouldn’t have been my top priority, though they have an environmental effect. It’s basically important to maintain water and air quality, explore ways of making the beach a community asset, we need to as a city adopt sustainable practices. I chaired the strategic plan 1999-2000, it’s going to get harder, the Green Port issues have been helpful, but there are health issues on the westside.” To deal with diesel pollution, “it’s taking $6 billion to redo the 710.
“There are still a lot of unacceptable health issues on the westside that need to be addressed and the port has still a lot to be done. One of the things that sets me apart is a 25 to 30 year track record of historical preservation, the transportation general plan, the strategic plan; a good record of accomplishing things. People know I get things done. I may be the only candidate who’s signed paychecks.”