Maybe it’s because of social media or possibly a byproduct of growing up in Long Beach and becoming more aware of how things operate, but there’s no disputing the fact that our “non-partisan” local elections have a much more “partisan” feel these days.
Check your mailbox for mailers, scroll the Twitter/Facebook page of a local elected official, or (re)watch one of the most recent virtual debates for the Nov. 3 election from school district to council candidates, and it is hard to miss. This change has benefitted some like the political parties themselves and career politicians at the expense of those whose lives they should be focused on improving — the people of the city of Long Beach.
Writing this a few days before Election Day, with state, local and national candidates and ballot issues very much up in the air, let’s decide one thing regardless of how things shake out — let’s leave Long Beach partisan politics in 2020.
There are many benefits to holding nonpartisan elections: political parties are irrelevant to providing services to the people of Long Beach, diversity of thought and competition are always good for the customer (i.e. resident), and no political party has a monopoly on good (or bad) ideas. Most importantly, and often overlooked, no matter who resides in the Governor’s mansion or the White House, if we want to continue to be the best city possible, we’ll need the support of all levels of government.
Whether it’s keeping the people of Long Beach safe, maintaining a vibrant economy with well-paying jobs, building an education system to be a model for the nation, keeping our ocean clean, addressing homelessness, or countless other challenges, the city, state, federal government relationship is critical. In recent years, we’ve seen partisan politics allow career politicians to sacrifice problem-solving for politics for individual gain at the expense of collective prosperity. But maybe on Nov. 4 we can collectively decide that enough is enough.
So how do we make this work? For starters, we should expect nothing less from our local elected officials.
We should each have a copy of our city’s organizational chart available to remind ourselves that our elected officials and representatives work for us and not any political party. We should strive to be informed voters, especially at the local level, which often takes a backseat to national elections.
Lastly, we should reward those that focus on the jobs they were elected for and not their next election or position, because with today’s challenges we need less of a focus on politics and more on our people, policy, and progress.
Nima Novin is a consultant and author in Long Beach.