voter booths (copy)

Voters at El Dorado Park in Long Beach during a previous election.

For the last 25 years or so, the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce has had its own Political Action Committee (PAC) to raise money and endorse candidates and propositions.

A PAC is necessary because it is illegal for nonprofit groups to raise money for candidates. Last week, the Chamber PAC released its selections for Long Beach offices, and its positions on selected ballot issues.

In the Long Beach City Council races, the PAC endorsed Cindy Allen in the Second District and Al Austin in the Eighth District. An endorsement also went to Erik Miller in the Long Beach Unified School District Board race for the District 2 seat.

No endorsements were made in the Sixth District City Council race or the election for Long Beach Community College trustee.

"For the Sixth District, the Chamber PAC did conduct interviews for the primary election in March," Jeremy Harris, Chamber president and CEO, wrote in an email. "Though we were impressed with the candidates during the interview process, we were unable to come to a consensus on a candidate. As for the College Board of Trustees, our PAC ultimately made the decision to interview candidates only at the Long Beach Unified Board of Education level and a consensus could not be (reached) to endorse in the College Board race."

The PAC also took positions on half of the 12 statewide ballot propositions, concentrating on those that impact businesses. No endorsement has been made on the Long Beach Measure US, which would increase the amount of oil production tax collected in Long Beach.

The Chamber took a No position on Prop. 15, which would require commercial and industrial properties to be taxed on current value — taking the properties out of Prop. 13 protections.

On Prop. 19, which would allow homeowners 55 or older and those suffering losses in wildfires to keep their proper tax payment at the same level on a new home, the Chamber took a Yes position. It said members should vote No on Prop. 21, which allow local governments to impose rent control on properties 15 years old or older.

The Chamber sided with app-based driving companies on Prop. 22, urging a Yes vote to keep Uber, Lyft, Grub Hub and other drivers as independent contractors, with some additional benefits. 

No vote positions were taken against Props. 23 and 24. Prop. 23 would require a physician at dialysis clinics, and Prop. 24 would expand provisions of the Consumer Privacy Act and create the California Privacy Protection Agency.

“These ballot measures are important issues that may have a lasting impact for many Chamber members and also the business community at large,” Harris said in a release. “We go to great lengths vetting each measure to make sure that we have the best interests of our constituents under consideration.”

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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