In less than three weeks, First District voters will choose their next representative on the City Council in a special election.

There are eight people on the ballot, making it hard to know enough about each candidate to make a decision.

The Grunion and the Long Beach Press-Telegram have joined forces to help with that process by hosting a candidates' forum on Monday, Oct. 21. The free event will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Aquarium of the Pacific, in its Ocean Theater.

Seven of the eight candidates have confirmed they will attend. They are: 

  • Travel Coordinator Shelbyrae Black;
  • Downtown Residential Council board member Joe Ganem;
  • Environmental activist Elliot Gonzales;
  • Small business owner Ray Morquecho;
  • Small business owner Mariela Salgado;
  • Church pastor Misi Tagaloa; and
  • Long Beach Transit director Mary Zendejas.

Candidate Shirley Huling, an educator and farmer, did not respond to an invitation to attend the forum.

Southern California News Group Coastal Editor Susan Jacobs will moderate the forum. Asking questions will be PT Senior Reporter Chris Haire, PT City Hall Reporter Hayley Munguia and Grunion Executive Editor Harry Saltzgaver.

Residents are encouraged to ask questions as well by emailing them to with the subject line "Debate Question" by Friday, Oct. 18.

Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. The Ocean Theater seats 180 people. Highlights will be posted on Twitter; a video of the event will be posted after its conclusion.

For more information or to RSVP, go to

—Harry Saltzgaver

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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