Long Beach's City Council held a farewell party Tuesday for First District Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, who is on her way to Sacramento, and least part-time, as the next state Senator from the 33rd District.
Gonzalez defeated Jack Guerrero on June 4 with almost 70 percent of the vote. She will finish the last two years of Ricardo Lara's term as state senator after Lara was elected state insurance commissioner.
As Gonzalez's campaign ends, several others begin, both to replace her as First District City Council person and for the four even-numbered council seats to be contested next spring.
The First District special election will come first. It is not scheduled yet, but is expected to be in November this year. It will be a winner-take-all election to fill the seat for two years, until the 2022 municipal election.
As of Monday, two candidates had announced campaigns — Mary Zendejas and Elliot Gonzales.
Zendejas announced she was running last Friday. She currently serves on the Long Beach Transit Board and the Board of Directors for the Disabled Resources Center, and has served on other city boards. She has a bachelor's degree from Long Beach State and works as director of regional accounts for GNS Medical Supplies.
Elliot Gonzales followed Saturday with a campaign announcement at Harvey Milk Park downtown. Gonzales is a former Sustainability Commission member and ran an unsuccessful primary bid last year for the state Assembly’s 70th District, where incumbent Patrick O'Donnell won another term.
While the First District seat is the immediate issue, council attention is turning to the March 3 municipal primary election, as well. The four even-numbered seats will be up for grabs, and all four incumbents have announced they will be running for another term.
Jeannine Pearce, whose first two years were marred with controversy and a failed recall bid, will try for a second term. So far, two people have announced they will run against her — Jeanette M. Barrera and Richard A. Harrison.
Fourth District Councilman Daryl Supernaw has filed papers as a potential candidate, but has not made a public announcement. Supernaw first won office in 2015 in a special election to replace O'Donnell, and was not opposed for his first full term in the 2016 election. No opposition has surfaced so far for 2020, either.
Sixth District Councilman Dee Andrews has announced he would run for another term, but has yet to file papers. Andrews also originally won a special election to get into office, but now is in his third full term, winning a write-in campaign in 2016. he is eligible for a fourth full term thanks to a term limit change voters passed in November saying a council person could have his or her name on three council primary ballots.
Two people have filed to run against Andrews —Suely Saro and Steve Vibol Meng.
A bit of an endorsement fight has emerged in the Sixth District race. Lara, the state insurance commissioner who started that other domino game, came out early to support Saro. Then Mayor Robert Garcia endorsed Andrews right after Andrews made his announcement.
Lara and Garcia worked closely together while Lara was in the state Senate, and have been political allies in previous campaigns — both strongly supported Lena Gonzalez, for example. The dueling endorsements may have simply been a matter of timing, but Garcia championed the term limit change that allowed Andrews to run again. That might have obligated him to support Andrews in principle, if for no other reason. It should be noted that Andrews currently is vice mayor, too.
In the Eighth District, Al Austin has filed to run for a third term under the newly passed term limit rules. Austin was elected in 2012 and won a second term in the 2016 primary, getting 51 percent of the vote over two other candidates. Austin started a campaign for the 33rd District state Senate seat, but pulled out early.
Austin's opposition so far is Tunua Thrash-Ntuk. Executive director of a housing nonprofit, Thrash-Ntuk co-chaired an Everyone In Economic Inclusion task force. She is married to Long Beach City College Board of Trustee Uduak-Joe Ntuk.
Long Beach's 2020 municipal primary election moves from April to March to coincide with the state primary election. That also means that any runoff races won't be decided until November 2020.