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Feature Stories

Mozena and Muhammed Compete for Mayoral Voters

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 26
12/27/2013


By Steve Propes

At least two mayoral candidates who didn’t show up for a kickoff debate apparently maintain active campaigns. Entrepreneur Steve Mozena, 53, owns several businesses in several Anaheim Street storefronts as well as a duplex around the corner.

Mozena was an undergraduate in journalism at the University of Oregon, then moved to Phoenix where he was radio morning man in the late 80s, when he mounted a campaign for the city to display Christmas decorations.

While living in Venice, Mozena “put on a beautification committee, had trimmed trees, employed homeless to remove stickers in Venice, ran for council to get my name up. At the same time, I got married, chose to move to Carson,” where starting in 2003, Mozena ran for city council and mayor. “They were riddled with corruption in the city, the mayor went to jail for corruption.” Mozena lived in Carson for ten years and moved to Long Beach four years ago.

“In Carson, my signature issue was to post the finances. Governor Brown says he doesn’t believe in transparency. I would like the state lottery funds posted on the Internet. I want to see the numbers. There is no sense of accountability.

“For almost 15 years, a newspaper in Illinois adopted my idea to make politicians honest. I was trying to get the City of Carson to adopt the idea. The mayor of Albuquerque said he was going to do it.

“In the past I’ve probably spent $250,000 of my own money to get elected or post the finance idea. To post finances speaks for itself. It’s important to know your finances. State Controller Chiang likes my idea and he tells me they’re working on it.”

About local issues, Mozena said, “Obviously you want to retrofit City Hall, but unlike the Deukmejian Courthouse, they don’t need to be mansions. It’s ridiculous the way they built it. Saddam Hussein palaces. I would like to see the downtown area improved. A building might be an architectural wonder, but not if it has no business. I’d like to bring back a Long Beach Mall so Lakewood doesn’t have all the business over there.”

Mozena opposes marijuana dispensaries. “I don’t think it’s a good thing to do that, it’s sad that there’s a moral breakdown, it’s just another outlet for people to do it. It’s almost like 7-Eleven on every corner. It’s just a bunch of malarkey. When you walk along the Venice boardwalk, what about the aspect of smoking it? The government tells us smoking is bad for us, why isn’t marijuana smoking bad for us?

“I want the actions of my life to speak for themselves. I know I can do it better than any of the candidates running.”

Kareem Muhammed, 56, decided to run for mayor in July. “I was born at St. Mary’s Hospital.” His given name is Alvin David Anderson, but changed it in 1977 after basketball superstar Lou Alcindor became Kareem Abdul Jabaar. “I’m a basketball coach, I graduated from Long Beach School For Adults in 1977. Now, I’m a full-time student at CSULB, I’m on disability with a bad back.”

Muhammed also graduated from El Camino Police Academy, was in the military for about a year at age 26 and has worked for 15 years at summer youth programs and as a security officer at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. “I’ve got 30 years of coaching basketball, had my own basketball camp since 1980. I do more private stuff, coaching kids one on one.”

About this issue of marijuana dispensaries, Muhammed said “from the federal standpoint, marijuana is still prohibited and federal law supercedes state law. We now have two; I would increase it to seven. Marijuana is not like heroin or crack cocaine, if they legalize it on the national level, the city stands to make millions on it.

“I worked at the city hall in the 1970s as an engineering aide. If that building is earthquake proofed, just upgrade the building, like the library can use some enhancement. The city should improve the convention center, make it something like the Staples Center.
“In Long Beach, the unemployment rate is at 12.2 percent, but fifty percent among black population. Long Beach needs to be more business friendly at city hall. Long Beach has over 5,000 homeless people and needs more affordable housing.

“It seems like Mayor Foster is trying to grandfather the mayor to Robert Garcia. Currently I live in the Second District. I’m taught to make critical decisions on the spot. I don’t have sponsors trying to lead me.

“Nobody is bigger than your team, only as strong as your weakest link. I have projections to raise money for the campaign, to keep my name out there.”

steve@longbeachcomber.com