Two candidates for the 33rd California State Senate seat, Lena Gonzalez and Jack Guerrero, have committed to a debate Monday, May 6, starting at 7 p.m. at Veterans Park in Long Beach.
The forum, put on by the Wrigley Neighborhood Association, is the only debate scheduled so far before the Tuesday, June 4, runoff in the special election for a vacant seat representing the 33rd District, which stretches from Long Beach through smaller cities along the 710 Freeway.
The debate is slated to be on the day absentee ballots are mailed out to voters.
Voters are choosing someone to replace Ricardo Lara, the Bell Gardens Democrat who was in the middle of a four-year Senate term when he was elected California insurance commissioner last November.
Gonzalez, the Long Beach First District City Councilwoman, is running as a Democrat, and Guerrero, a Cudahy city councilman who is a Republican, advanced to the runoff by finishing first and second among 12 candidates in a March 26 primary. Gonzalez got 31.6% of the votes, Guerrero 14%. All of the Democrats on the ballot combined to pull in 78.1%.
Turnout in the primary was 8.1%. As low as that sounds, it’s about normal for a special election held in Los Angeles County with nothing else on the ballot.
The Wrigley Association, which advocates for one of Long Beach’s oldest neighborhoods, said the forum will be open to the public, and audience members can submit questions in writing before the event starts.
Guerrero, perceived to be the underdog in the district where Democratic registered voters outnumber Republicans by more than 4 to 1, has been seeking debates with Gonzalez.
Gonzalez campaign manager Kristina Bigdeli said Tuesday that the Democrat would take part in the May 6 forum.
That was a day before Long Beach Republican Women Federated, a local political group, emailed out a new release calling on Gonzalez to commit to a debate, quoting club president Linda MacDonald asking, “Why is Ms. Gonzalez afraid to meet and debate issues that affects (sic) everyone living in that district?”