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Long Beach Elections will start off 2010 election season in LA County

While Californians are still interpreting the huge upset in Massachusetts and state representative candidates are still in the middle of their filing periods for the primaries on June 8th, the ballot for Long Beach, including city council, school board and ommunity college board, are set for their April 13th election.

A summary of each Long Beach City Council race and known endorsements follows. The other races will be covered in future posts.

City Council District 1 - Incumbent City Councilmember Robert Garcia defends his special election win in April 2009 against one of his 2009 challengers, community activist Jana Shields, the operator of a non-profit community education program and president of the Willmore City Heritage Association.

Garcia's endorsements include the Long Beach Police Officers Association (POA), the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Long Beach Democratic Club. Shields has been endorsed by the Republican Party of Los Angeles County.

City Council District 3 - Incumbent City Councilmember Gary DeLong is facing challenges from Terry Jensen and Thomas Marchese. Terry Jensen received the POA endorsement that went to incumbent Gary DeLong in 2008; the Long Beach Democratic Club endorsed Thomas Marchese.

City Council District 5 - Incumbent City Councilmember Gerry Shcipske is facing a formidable challenge from Mike Hedges, President and CEO of Pacific Striping Company, a local small business that was established in 1976 by his father, Randy Hedges, a retired member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Schipske has received the same endorsements as Garcia, namely the POA, ILWU and the LB Democrat Club. Though no official endorsements yet appear on his page, Hedges is currently active in Rotary International, Chairman of Workforce Skills and Labor for the California Small Business Association (CSBA) and Chairman of the Board for The Greater Lakewood Chamber of Commerce, serves on the Bill review and Budget committee for California Chamber of Commerce, serves on the One Stop Committee of the Southeast Los Angeles County Workforce Investment Board, is on the Board of Directors for Care For The Children, and is an active member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).

City Council District7 - In what might surprisingly be the hardest fought race in Long Beach this April, termed out incumbent Tonia Reyes Uranga is one of two attempting to get re-elected as a write-in candidate, but faces strong challenges from James Johnson, Jill Hill, and Jack Smith.

James Johnson, the Assistant City Auditor for the City of Long Beach, will be a favored challenger, having received an all-star cast of endorsements that includes State Controller John Chaing, Long Beach State Senator Alan Lowenthal, City Councilmember Suja Lowenthal, and all four LBUSD Board members prior to the special election last month. 

Jill Hill, president of the Wrigley Area Neighborhood Alliance, has been working as a Consultant for the City's Environmental Services Bureau with their Litter Abatement & Awareness Campaign, aka, Litter-Free Long Beach, since 2001, and currently serves as Chair of the Community Development Advisory Commission (CDAC). Hill has also received a stunning set of endorsements, mostly from neighorhood activists and environmental leaders including Joan Greenwood, Long Beach Sustainability Commissioner, and Jan Ward, President of WESCA (West East Side Community Association).

Budget analyst and community activist Jack Smith, "a rocket scientist with an Academy Award in budget management", has yet to post any endorsements on his site, but looks to be an extremely active and energetic candidate who will make some waves.

In addition to her endorsement by City Councilmember Rae Gabelich, Councilmember Uranga did receive her first-ever POA endorsement this year, as well as the support of the union that represents 3,800 city employees (the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, IAMAW) before it has interviewed any of the candidates (reminiscent of her pre-filing 2008 TALB endorsement over now-Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal), while the LB Democratic Club endorsed Johnson, its former leader.

City Council District 9 - Another seat that is technically an "open seat", termed out incumbent Val Lerch is attempting to hold on as a write-in candidate, but also faces strong challenges from Steven Neal, Brad Shore and Dan Pressburg.

The strongest and most political challenge will come from Steven Neal, who is endorsed by a number of recognizable "who's-who" in the political scene of Long Beach, including State Senators Curren Price and Gloria Romero; Assemblymembers Karen Bass, Steve Bradford, Warren Furutani, and Tony Mendoza; City Councilmember Tonia Reyes-Uranga; and a long list of labor unions including the IBEW, UAW, UFCW and local Teamsters. As Director of the AFL-CIO Community Service Department at the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Neal has built a strong network of elected officials, local labor representatives, clergy and community leaders, and has to be heavily favored in this race.

Brad Shore, currently a board member on the North Long Beach Community Action Group, has been securing some key endorsements for his city council run, including former Vice Mayor and Police Commander of the City of Long Beach, Doug Drummond, former Mayor of Huntington Beach Debbie Cook and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA). Shore's website also has a long list of names (w/o titles) of endorsements, many of which live within the district.

Long-time community activist and host of the political "get-to-knows" at his home, the historical site of the former Long Beach Dairy and Creamery, Dan Pressburg should be able to muster a solid challenge due in no small part to his in-depth knowledge of the district as the campaign manager behind Councilmember Lerch's previous successful elections. Networking runs deep in Long Beach, especially in the 9th district where many different cultures and small businesses co-exist. Pressburg has been working with many of these groups for nearly a generation, many are looking to him as the heir-apparent.

Regarding endorsements, it is interesting to note that none of the candidates for the Ninth District race received the POA endorsement—most notably, not third-term write-in incumbent Val Lerch, who chairs the city council’s public safety committee.

Coming up: Long Beach Unifed School District & Community College District

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