From Issue: Volume XXII - Number 2
By Jay Beeler
We rushed through delivery of the January 10 edition of the Beachcomber to hear five candidates for the position of Long Beach Mayor express their views before the Long Beach Commercial Real Estate Council. Presenters included Bonnie Lowenthal, Damon Dunn, Doug Otto, Gerrie Schipske and Robert Garcia. Afterward I asked a few friends what they thought about their presentations.
Real estate guru Bob Luskin said: “I thought the presentations were very interesting and enlightening. Damon Dunn came on strong, I think he could be a strong candidate for mayor, maybe a little too strong. A few more gray hairs and a little more Long Beach experience and he might be our guy. He certainly is bright with great business experience for his young age.
“I thought Doug Otto was clear, concise and well thought out. Doug appears to be the candidate that I think could provide Long Beach with its current needs. Gerrie Schipske has great history in Long Beach, is bright and has Long Beach in her heart. I felt Bonnie had a status quo Long Beach in her presentation and Robert Garcia did not seem to have a lot new to offer. It is early in the election process, as time passes this could all change.”
I agree with Bob’s assessments and was particularly surprised with the statesmanship demonstrated by Otto. He was the only one with a 14-page plan for Long Beach with 11 separate goals, referenced in his talk and available for all to see online. Others would be wise to follow his lead.
In discussing the Port of Long Beach Otto observed there is not a sole on its board with a business background. Any wonder they are in disarray right now? Ditto that for Long Beach Transit. I’m not sure what the correlation is here, but I have consistently over the past five years ranked the public relations for these organizations as poor at best, specifically in the area of media relations, although in recent days the port has taken some corrective action.
Third District Councilmember Gary DeLong made these observations on the debate:
“Robert Garcia and Damon Dunn clearly provided the most energy and enthusiasm. Now they need to turn that energy into specific action plans that voters can support or reject. Some of the comments I heard during the debate, and afterwards, is people felt that Bonnie Lowenthal represented the past, not our future.
“In my discussions with Long Beach residents over the last several months, they are looking for a new, bold vision. And will support the candidate who understands our strengths and weaknesses, and can best articulate how to take Long Beach to the next level.”
Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Randy Gordon stated: “I thought Damon Dunn by far did the best job. He had concrete solutions to many of Long Beach’s current challenges.
“He also has the energy to put in the hard work and long hours to move this city forward. This city needs a shot in the arm and youthful and energetic leadership that will bring people together.
Lastly, Damon has excelled at the most rigorous academic institution, the highest level of professional sports and succeeded at the top of his real estate industry. He is a proven leader.”
Note that the chamber endorsed Dunn for mayor several months ago.
A Damon Dunn supporter in attendance noted Lowenthal making numerous facial expressions to demonstrate her disagreement with what the other candidates were saying. “She is all about saying ‘how great I am’ without providing a vision for the future,” was one comment.
Another observer said “Every mayoral candidate should use the Doug Otto “plan” as boilerplate. That said, it’s a lot of fluff. Nothing on his plan is measurable and it’s unlikely he would have much impact on any of it. In reality he should stick to the business of being the chief executive. That’s a big enough job. He should ensure that the various city departments will run efficiently and within their financial constraints. That would make him a success.”
It was great to get feedback from those in attendance and others have commented in our letters section, including Gerrie Schipske. We look forward to attending more of these debates and sharing follow-up comments with our readers.