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Feature Stories

Younger Faces Fill Key Muni Offices

From Issue: Volume XXII - Number 12

By Steve Propes

In a political season, in which the Long Beach mayoral race was the main event, claims about opponents’ financial history, criticisms of how much time a candidate spent on the football field and how an opponent’s trip to Peru was financed – not to mention how these two previously registered Republicans tried to pin the tail on the other guy’s elephant, a party slightly more electable than a Long Beach Taliban.

At the end, youth aced age. At 36, Vice Mayor Robert Garcia, who replaces 67-year-old Mayor Bob Foster, is by far the youngest mayor in the history of Long Beach. L.A. County budget officer Stacy Mungo, 33, replaces Fifth District Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, who at age 64, is term limited out. Schipske came in fourth in a crowded mayoral field, in which Garcia and businessman Damon Dunn finished one, two in the primary.

“Congratulations to Stacy Mungo on her winning the election for the 5th district council seat,” said Schipske. “I believe that Stacy is committed to the high level of constituent service that the residents expect and deserve. My staff and I stand ready for a smooth, positive transition.”

About her election victory, Mungo stated, “ I’m so thankful to all the volunteers, neighbors, friends, colleagues and community leaders that came together to support our grassroots campaign.

Success was possible because we had the community behind us.
“I will listen to neighbors and community groups, we will set goals together and hold one another accountable. I will continue to work to make Long Beach the best place to grow up, raise a family and build a successful business.”

To avoid the dearth of documents Schipske stated she found when inheriting the office from Jackie Kell, the councilwoman stated, “My staff and I are organizing files, notebooks, equipment and computer records of 44,000 constituents which document the work we have undertaken these past eight years.”

Further, Schipske added, “I am hopeful that Ms. Mungo will keep the Fifth District staff that are in place as they are the reason residents feel so positive towards our office.”

Asked to comment on Schipske’s request to retain her staff, Mungo responded, “Just read the press release and am glad she wants to meet this week. No plans yet.”

Two days after the election, Mungo’s opponent, Carl Kemp stated, “I’ve taken the day to reflect (aka mope). I did want to win the election pretty bad, but I am richer in memories, friendship and understanding than I was before. I am especially grateful to the people who gave me their precious votes. Meeting so many of them has been a true privilege, and I am better for it. There’s still no place I’d rather raise my family than the Fifth. I congratulated Stacy on the victory last night. Worthy opponent. I bow out of respect, even in defeat, and wish her the very best in her effort to make the city and district we both love better.”

“I realized Kemp ran a clean campaign and Mungo didn’t,” said retired teacher and Fifth District resident, Noel Menadier, 58. “Her people were attacking Kemp as a cannabis person. His literature wasn’t saying anything against his opponent. A lot of these candidates were pretty dirty, but he was clean, talked about what he wanted to do for Long Beach and was positive. I hope she continues Gerrie Schipske’s tradition of serving constituents and listening to them.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the election was the third place showing of Democrat Suja Lowenthal in the race for the 70th Assembly District to Democrat Patrick O’Donnell and Republican John Goya, who finished first and second. This means the second in-a-row loss for the previously politically undefeated extended Lowenthal family after her ex-mother-in-law, Bonnie Lowenthal recently placed third in the Long Beach mayoral primary.

Unaccountably, Lowenthal ran a much less aggressive campaign than O’Donnell, who sent out regular mailings. Her most memorable mailings were a shopping bag with her name emblazoned and a 63-page mini-bio, “Repaying America” from her early life in India to successfully banning plastic shopping bags.

Appointed City Attorney Charles Parkin decisively defeated his opponent, outgoing Seventh District Councilman James Johnson.

Impacting Long Beach was the near outright victory of Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell over his closest rival, Gardena Mayor and retired Assistant L.A. County Sheriff Paul Tanaka and five other candidates for the office of county sheriff vacated by Lee Baca. An almost-certain McDonnell victory against Tanaka would mean a replacement would have to be found for police chief.

“I hope Garcia lives up to his promise to make Long Beach an animal friendly city,” said Menadier. “Long Beach is a bicycle friendly city, but not animal friendly. I hope he makes the city council a bully-free zone.”