Home > News and Politics > TONIGHT’S 3RD DISTRICT DEBATE MAY BE THE MOST IMPORTANT YET … TO THE MAYOR, ANYWAY

TONIGHT’S 3RD DISTRICT DEBATE MAY BE THE MOST IMPORTANT YET … TO THE MAYOR, ANYWAY

BY DAVE WIELENGA

Tonight’s debate among candidates for the Third District seat on the City Council may be the most important of the Long Beach Press Club’s seven-part Debates At Da’ Beach series—well, to Mayor Bob Foster, anyway. He’s been telling people that he’ll “do anything” to see that incumbent Gary DeLong is re-elected over challengers Terry Jensen and Tom Marchese.

DeLong has been Foster’s right-hand councilman throughout the nearly four years they’ve warmed seats behind the rail, working together on projects ranging from the mayor’s Measure I property tax referendum to DeLong’s push for a swap of the city’s Public Service Yard for the Los Cerritos Wetlands that are located in his district.

OK, so all their work still hasn’t produced either of those projects—the voters rejected Measure I, while the land swap has been stalled by allegations of corruption and the EPA’s discovery of PCBs on the wetlands.

But DeLong has been perhaps the most-dependable vote in Foster’s so-called “Mayoral Majority” on the council. Foster has rewarded him with appointments as chair of the council’s Budget Oversight Committee and the Federal Legislation Committee, and vice-chair of the Economic Development & Finance Committee. DeLong is also Long Beach’s representative on the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority—despite the fact that the Third District is on the other side of town from the Alameda Corridor.

DeLong has tried to distance himself from Measure I since it was rejected by voters in November 2008. In a Press-Telegram story earlier this month, he told reporter Paul Eakins that his vote to place the measure on the ballot was simply a vote for democracy. “I was fine with putting it on the ballot and letting the public decide if they want that or they don’t want that,” DeLong said in that P-T story. “I don’t support raising taxes unilaterally on people.”

But that explanation ignores the fact that DeLong contributed financially to the Measure I campaign.

Perhaps more significantly, when Foster refused to participate in a Long Beach Press Club debate over Measure I with the proposal’s leading opponent, his chief of staff, Beckie Ames, offered to have DeLong take the mayor’s place.

“We were happy to provide a surrogate,” Ames said in October 2008 as she volunteered DeLong to argue the pro-Measure I side.

The Press Club declined that offer, but Ames’ scenario will finally unfold tonight. Measure I’s leading opponent—the man who was going to debate Foster nearly 1 ½ years ago—was Jensen, a former Redevelopment Agency board member, who has resurfaced as DeLong’s opponent for the Third District seat.

This evening’s event is at the Gaslamp restaurant, located at 6251 E. Pacific Coast Highway—where it intersects with Loynes Drive. A full food and drink menu will be available. Doors open 5 p.m., and debate begins 7 p.m.

The debate is also available live on your computer, courtesy of Michael Clements and Costin Tuculescu, best known for their Beer & Politics simulcasts. Those wishing to watch the debates from home should register at www.instantpresenter.com/beerandpolitics.

The remaining Debates At Da’ Beach schedule:

Monday, March 29 – 5th District Candidates: Mike Hedges, Gerrie Schipske. Details: Eldorado Restaurant (dinner menu and bar), 3014 Studebaker Dr., doors open 5 p.m,  bebate starts 7 p.m.

April 7 – 1st District Candidates: Robert Garcia, Jana Shields. Details: Rooftop at Smooths (full kitchen and bar downstairs, bar service upstairs), 144 Pine Ave., happy hour 5 p.m., debate begins 7 p.m. Party with band afterward.

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  1. Jim McCabe
    March 22, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    How nice to see the reincarnation of quality writing and reporting from this outstanding reporter!

  2. wrongbeachjohn
    March 22, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Good luck in your new endeavor. Your talents are much needed in wrong beach. Let us know how we can prove that with $ome $upport.

  3. March 22, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    Thanks to both of you! Of course, I would appreciate $upport–as you spell it–and I’d ask that you write to me at misterwielenga@yahoo.com. Thanks.

  4. JOAN hAWLEY-MCGRATH
    March 23, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Good article on our Mayor “Bobby” the lobby and his continuing support of DeWrong Nice to read your print/word again – we need you Dave and never forget that and East Long Beach.

  5. Ibencruzin
    March 23, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Well, great coverage and great comments. Zero base budgeting with a comprehensive plan to live within our means city hall…just imagine no more NSF checks to keep the structural budget growing faster than revenues. I guess i don’t get it. We do not need to continue rewarding council members for voting us into bankruptcy and further poverty. It is criminal that 102 Million dollars from redevelopment has been spent downtown while we allow ourselves two blocks worth of mulch on Atlantic and can’t get a library built. We can pay aquarium bonds however as a trade off for Port infrastructure. Pension reform with the public input regarding review of contracts will get messy because most council members consider themselves Kings rather than public servants so have people before politics is a great answer. Anyway great blog.

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