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Feature Stories

Bonnie Lowenthal Has Mayoral Plans

From Issue: Volume XXII - Number 1

By Steve Propes

Mayoral candidate, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal began her political career in 2001 as First District councilwoman, replacing the late Jenny Oropeza, who had just been elected to the California State Assembly.

Since 2008, Lowenthal has represented the 54th and the redrawn 70th District and is now termed out. Born in New York, Long Island on February 19, 1940, in 1969, Lowenthal came to Long Beach with her then-husband, current Congressman Alan Lowenthal, became a marriage and family counselor and served on the school board.

Recently, Lowenthal was appointed by the secretary of transportation to the newly formed National Freight Advisory Committee. “We need a goods movement policy,” said Lowenthal. As the state does not pay the cost of her out-of-state travel for these meetings in Washington, “That’s what people use campaign money for,” she said.

During her career in the assembly, “I’ve been involved at the state level, developing thousands of jobs. The Gerald Desmond Bridge project will mean short term and long-term jobs. I was involved in the courthouse development. I ran a bill at the request of the county to fix a glitch between Administrative Office of the Courts and the county over wording in the contract. We had a tremendous number of construction jobs and now have safe access to justice and working elevators in the Long Beach courthouse.

“We are the only city that has been able to build a new courthouse in many years. We were only able to do it with a P3. It’s unfortunate, but the state doesn’t have the funding to meet all the needs. I have tried to get the Catalina Island court opened every two weeks.”

“I had a dozen bills signed and one vetoed by the governor, a freight plan, stopping people from signing over the car to a relative to avoid paying parking citations, limited title transfers in families, bandit tow drivers, bi-annual inspection of terminals, focus on big rigs doing a bad job, bus driver physicals, allowing people to do homecare workers background checks on a website. I’m the chair of the very bipartisan transportation committee. I’m very concerned about Long Beach over the 405 toll road as we have not been consulted.”

Her one vetoed bill had been described as giving protected status to the homeless. “I’m not sure I ever did that,” she responded. “My bill in the legislature had nothing to do with protected class. Most homeless people are veterans and they are among those who are on the receiving end of violence for no reason. It’s to make sure people who think they can beat up someone who is completely defenseless” would have to compensate the victims. When Governor Jerry Brown vetoed it, “He said it was a worthy effort; he was very laudatory.”

About hot button civic issues, Lowenthal said, “I support the legitimate medical use of medical marijuana for people who are ill and require it with adequate controls. We need a standardized state role; we need criteria for dispensaries. I’m an advocate, but question why it would be regulated city-by-city. Pharmacies dispense medicine. The city council has worked very hard to find the best way to regulate according to their authority.”

About police staffing, Lowenthal recalled, “When I left the council, we were just about at 1,000 officers. We’re down a couple of hundred now. We have to restore the number we had, we have to restore community services and community policing. We need to develop a sex trafficking unit. When I was on the council, I had requested an increase for the MET (mental evaluation team) and doubled it from two to four teams.”

“Now that the economy is back on track, we need to restore city services and ensure we have safe neighborhoods and create jobs, which is why I’m interested in the freight committee. Southern California has one million jobs related to the harbor. The Port of Long Beach says they’re responsible for one in eight jobs in Long Beach. In the international trade community, the Long Beach port has had a stellar reputation. I’m sure we’re going to come through the current controversy with flying colors.”

“Love it or hate it, our city hall is a piece of iconic architecture. I’m not sure now is the time for expenditure when we don’t have enough for police, fire and other infrastructure. Everything should be studied. The first thing is to ensure safety of public and employees in city hall. We need to understand P3s throughout the country.”

As Lowenthal is the last active office holder among the council members who approved the pension spike that contributed to the city’s ongoing fiscal crisis, she stated, “At the time it appeared this was a fiscally prudent decision to ensure that city employees had a secure retirement.” Apparently Lowenthal has reconsidered that decision. Now, “The goal is to have fiscal restraint.”