With only a week before the March 3 election, a candidate for the open Second District seat on the Long Beach City Council is fighting off a number of allegations that have entangled the campaign in its final days.
Cindy Allen, 53, one of seven candidates running to succeed Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce — who is not running for reelection — has faced accusations that she isn’t a Long Beach resident and has a potential conflict of interest related to a business she said she sold before announcing her candidacy. Allen, on Tuesday, Feb. 24, denied those accusations.
The allegations in the crowded field, though, have also drawn protests, including one on Tuesday, Feb. 24, the candidate said.
One opponent, Robert Fox, a business owner and real estate broker, said Allen should not be eligible to run for council based on conflicts swirling around her official residence.
The downtown district stretches from the Port of Long Beach to Redondo Avenue and 10th Street.
Allen, a retired Long Beach police officer and entrepreneur who owns a home in Fountain Valley and two condos in downtown Long Beach, has lived in Long Beach since 2008, according to records cited by the Long Beach City Clerk.
Candidates are required to live in the district for 30 days before the end of the nomination period, which, in this case, was Nov. 6, said Long Beach City Clerk Monique De La Garza.
Allen, she said, qualified.
“She has been an active voter in Long Beach for many, many years,” De La Garza said.
But questions have been raised about whether Allen, in fact, does live in one of the two condominiums she has listed — at 388 and 488 E. Ocean Blvd.
A story that appeared last week in The Beachcomber, a twice-monthly publication based in Los Altos, said Allen, who grew up in Long Beach before moving to Orange County, was violating at least the spirit of the law by saying she lived in a condo in the Aqua Towers while still owning the home in Fountain Valley.
The same story said the sale of Allen’s business, Agency ETA, to Blume Media Group was never completed, leaving Allen with a potential conflict of interest should she be elected to the open seat. ETA has received significant contracts with the city.
Critics have argued both condos are listed as Airbnb rentals on Allen’s Form 700 financial disclosure document. Allen said the lines listing the condos were at the bottom of a page and the Aribnb designation was duplicated on the form. Once the City Clerk’s office was shown how the mistake was made, she said, a revised Form 700 was filed. Allen said a clerical error was responsible for the Airbnb issue.
“I live in this condo, and I have lived in this condo,” Allen said Tuesday. “It’s at 388 E. Ocean and we’ve always lived there. We were in the other condo (in the 488 E. Ocean Blvd. Aqua Tower) while we renovated this one, which is a two-bedroom.”
Allen’s Fountain Valley home, a detached single-family house, is used primarily by her adult son and daughter, she said, with plans to eventually remodel and sell the home — something she said now will be done ahead of schedule.
Allen is a former Long Beach police officer, who retired with a disability. Tuesday, protesters gathered at her campaign office with signs about police, including “No More Killer KKKops” and “FTP Blue Lives Murder.” FTP is an acronym for F The Police.
“Many of these opponents are attacking me and my family because I am a former Long Beach police officer,” Allen said. “I am proud of my service and I look forward to being a strong advocate for public safety in Long Beach.”
As for the sale of her ad agency, Allen said Zachary Stroud, founder of Blume Media Group, did not follow up on conditions of the sale. She said she received an undisclosed amount of money at the time the sale was announced in October, but not the full amount.
“Obviously, we have lawyers involved,” Allen said. “I have to see how the deal with Stroud comes out before I can do anything else, and I can’t say much.”
Allen said she is trying to “get out from under it.”
Stroud, though, said on Wednesday morning, Feb. 26, that no money exchanged hands. Rather, his financing fell through and Blume Media never acquired or took over operations of Agency ETA, Stroud said.
“I equate it to a house purchase,” Stroud said. “I don’t know anyone in America who would hand over the keys to their house without having all the money.”
Stroud said he sought to buy Agency ETA as a way to boost Blume Media, which faced starts and stops over the past couple of years as its founder battled cancer. Buying an existing business, Stroud said he thought, would help.
The two companies had a purchase agreement and a nondisclosure agreement, which prohibited discussing the terms of the sale until it was final. But the purchase agreement, Stroud said, expired in November.
“We failed to get the final approvals for the acquisition,” he said.
Allen, for her part, is still looking to sell Agency ETA — and avoid a potential conflict of interest. Selling it to another buyer, she said, “could easily be done well before the general election” on Nov. 3, assuming she finishes in one of the top two slots next week and goes into a runoff for the seat.
Allen is a close ally of Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and has contributed to his campaigns in the past. A call and email to Garcia seeking comment were not returned on Tuesday.
Fox, 67, who has been active in the community going back to the 1980s, said the controversy is characteristic of what he said is longstanding corruption in City Hall.
“There was never any intention to sell the company,” Fox said.
Complaints about Allen, he added, have been made to the FBI, state and county. Mike Sanchez, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Another candidate running for the Second District seat, Nigel Lifsey, said he’s tried to “stay above the fray” but added that the charges and counter-charges could impact voters. This is his first run for political office.
“Stories like this are pretty discouraging to people who aren’t already involved in politics,” he said. “It discourages people from voting.”
Seven candidates are running for the Second District seat. Besides Allen, Fox and Nigel, those candidates are: social worker Jeanette Barrera, school safety officer Jesus Cisneros, Cal State Long Beach sociology professor Eduardo Lara and Ryan Lum, who runs the Happy Healthy Vegan YouTube channel.
Grunion executive editor Harry Saltzgaver and SCNG staff writer Chris Haire contributed to this report.
Note: This story was changed to correct Allen's age.