A Cambodian refugee who came to America and got a doctorate degree, Suely Saro, will challenge Dee Andrews for the Sixth District City Council seat.

Andrews will be the first to take advantage of Measure BBB, a Charter change approved in November that allows City Council candidates to appear on the ballot in three elections. If elected, Andrews would be serving his fourth full term — he was elected in 2018 as a write-in candidate.

Saro announced her candidacy last month, and is hosting her first fundraiser this Saturday. She is a former director of Khmer Girls In Action and has chaired the city's Citizens Police Complaint Commission. After a stint as then-state Senator Ricardo Lara's field representative, she is now teaching at California State University, Los Angeles.

Saro was born in a Thailand refugee camp, coming to Los Angeles, then Long Beach, with her parents after they survived the Khmer Rouge genocide, according to her website. She attended UC Santa Cruz as an undergraduate, Cal State Long Beach for her masters and earned a doctorate in education from the University of La Verne.

Andrews was first elected to the City Council in 2007 in a special election to replace Laura Richardson, who had been elected to Congress. He won full terms in 2008 and 2012, then easily won a third term as a write-in in 2016.

Andrews has not officially announced his run for re-election, but has talked of it publicly. Lou Baglietto, an Andrews advisor, said the formal announcement would come in May.

Long Beach's 2020 municipal election will be the first on the same calendar as the state's. That means the primary will be on March 3, 2020, less than 11 months from now. If there is a need for a runoff after that primary, the election would not take place until November.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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