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Feature Stories

One Year Covering the Political Campaigns

From Issue: Volume XXII - Number 13
6/27/2014


By Steve Propes


During a late October 2013 meeting with the four candidates for her council seat in her El Dorado Park offices, two-term Fifth District Councilwoman and newly-minted mayoral candidate Gerrie Schipske noticed the council office was right across the street from her Studebaker Road home. To her, the short commute meant she should run.

Starting the meeting by chiding an unnamed candidate whom she claimed said negative things about her, Schipske then mentioned a Beachcomber article about a Queen Mary casino, confronting me over what it was about as it made no sense to her. Also made no sense to me, which I told her, as I didn’t recall it. In front of everyone, she promised to get with me on the subject, but it was solved the next day when candidate Thomas Sutfin took the trouble to find the article and emailed me, “I’ve included an article that I believe is the article Gerrie mentioned regarding the casino. This does not have your byline on it but I share it here anyway.” Schipske later apologized by email for calling me out in that forum on an article written by an intern. Sutfin finished dead last, but I appreciated he took the trouble to sort things out.

Reaching all candidates was a tricky business. A grand total of three candidates showed up on their own at the Beachcomber offices: mayoral candidate Robert Garcia; Fifth District Council candidate Stacy Mungo and city attorney candidate Charles Parkin. Please note each of these candidates won their races in early June.

Private for a politico, Suja Lowenthal has no public email address. After negotiating with her chief of staff for a month, she supplied comprehensive written answers to all of my questions. These were never published as she dropped out when Mayor Bob Foster declared he would not be a third term write-in candidate.

I gleaned one thing about Suja, namely her age. “I am 43. Thanks for the reminder.”

I asked Mungo for her age, as she was the only candidate not listing it in the voter’s handbook. She called me asking why I needed it, claiming it could be used as a campaign issue against her, as other candidates called her “the kid.” She finally relented, 33, which didn’t seem to hurt her campaign. “The kid” won the race.

For fans of numerology, the age difference between the current and new mayor as well as the current and new Fifth District councilwoman is, in either case, exactly 31 years.

Immediately after I interviewed a high profile mayoral candidate, Foster made his announcement not to run. The candidate called me less than an hour later, asking I not use any comment critical of the mayor. I checked my notes. I had not transcribed any critical comments, so I had nothing to delete. It was easy to comply with the request, which I may or may not have respected had I recorded those comments. Obviously, an effort to get the coveted Foster endorsement.

Fifth District candidate Carl Kemp and mayoral candidate Bonnie Lowenthal were difficult to reach as phone numbers they supplied the city clerk were campaign consultant voice mails. Unlike Kemp, neither of the Lowenthals was willing to share a cell number with me, pretty much de regueur with all other candidates, except for the candidate who threatened legal action after sending screeds totaling almost a thousand words alleging criminal wrongdoing at city hall. The lower tier candidate didn’t trust me; promised to file charges if I wrote the candidate’s name. Never have; never will. Less than an ideal way to garner publicity for a very public race.

At the end of a March 23 book signing for my new “Old School” book at Dyzzy On Vynyl on Seventh Street near Orizaba Avenue, mayoral candidate Doug Otto showed up between campaign events. His interview already published, he bought the book, informing me he listened to my 50s and 60s R&B show on KLON in the 1980s.

Mayoral candidate Steve Mozena’s good ideas about governmental transparency were diminished by a clumsy publicity stunt by a banner of morphed nude council members hung over his storefront.

Was he was hoping code enforcement would order it down so he could claim political censorship? The order never came. Mozena and his banner reportedly left town for new Palos Verdes digs, where he may run for public office again, his pattern when residing in Venice and Carson.

Two days before the election, I got a last-minute letter about a Garcia-sponsored free pizza event at nearby Cirivello’s. Free pizza, same day. My one-time KLON station manager, Sharon Weissman, now Garcia’s chief-of-staff, was there, so we shared a pizza. I asked the candidate about plans to combine Long Beach and L.A. harbors, which Garcia said he opposed; unlike the pizza, which I approved.

steve@longbeachcomber.com