District 1 Voter Guide: Candidate Stances on Police Funding, Tenant Rights, Immigration, Pollution, Youth Funds, Guns

Oct. 22, 2019 / By

What?! There’s an election in Long Beach soon?

Yup! It’s true! It’s happening on Tuesday, November 5th and the winner will represent the first district on the Long Beach City Council. No runoffs, this is it.

There are nine candidates running to win the seat, left open after then-councilmember Lena Gonzalez won a state senate race in June. Whichever candidate receives the most votes in this “special election” will serve the remainder of her term, ending 2022.

Considering the many issues and opportunities facing the first district’s future, VoiceWaves Youth Reporters created a candidate survey pressing contenders on the issues they find most important. The topics range from the environment, police funding, youth programs, tenants’ rights, immigration, and gun regulation. Below are candidates’ responses.

A few things to keep in mind…

Candidates were allowed to select from a limited range of responses to each youth-led question: “In Favor,” “Against,” “Neutral,” or “No Stance” with an option for candidates to elaborate on each response with a mini-statement.

Candidates’ statements are presented as is, without grammatical corrections. In some cases, candidates did not elaborate on their stances. Those instances are labeled below with “No explanation.”

Candidates Shirley Huling and Hashim Muhammad did not submit survey responses.

 


Candidate Explanations

Shelbyrae Black: IN FAVOR

No explanation.

Joe Ganem: NEUTRAL

I’m in favor of reducing pollutants from many sources including the Port. Regulations may be part of the plan, but sensible planning for the use of electrical power rather than diesel makes more sense than penalizing companies that also provide jobs and are part of our economy. Penalties only slows down compliance rather than the funds being used to fix the source of pollution.

Elliot Gonzales: IN FAVOR

We can not continue to sacrifice the lungs of the children in West Long Beach and the harbor area for the profits of industry. We must electrify the port, including trucks so that communities do not have to breathe carcinogens for the port to operate its activities.

Ray Morquecho: IN FAVOR

The First District is the recipient of a lot of pollution with its proximity to the Ports, 710 Freeway, and idling ships off our coast. The Air Quality Board that governs our southern coastal region has put in place a comprehensive plan to slash pollution. The Port also has a plan to include more and more “green” trucks and clean up its portion of diesel particulates. However, I believe that we need to help find solutions to bunker fuel and the modified hydrofluoric acids still in use by shipping liners and our refinery neighbors.

Mariela Salgado: NO STANCE

The answer is not in adding more regulations is it working in partnership to support zero emissions commercial vehicles and cargo as well as investments in mitigation measures.

Misi Tagaloa: IN FAVOR

At the very minimum we need a systematic way to monitor the level of particulates in the air at schools, housing complexes and places where people gather. This will provide an iterative baseline from which to improve upon. Then we need a comprehensive plan that weans us off our fossil fuel industrial addiction without harmful withdrawals and side effects.

Mary Zendejas: IN FAVOR

The Port of Long Beach is doing well when it comes to meeting its emission reduction targets. I would like to focus on diversifying our fleet of trucks that enter the Port and direct our attention at cleaning up those heavy-duty vehicles.

 


Candidate Explanations

Shelbyrae Black: AGAINST

No explanation.

Joe Ganem: AGAINST 

The police budget is part of the general fund that pays for nearly all city services. Police and Fire are a very large part of city’s expenditures. We’ve been playing catch-up since we had to cut funding due to the recession. I’d want to ensure we are properly funded in police before looking at any reductions.

Elliot Gonzales: IN FAVOR 

We need counselors who can respond to situations where police are called. This can include counselors to help police litigate sexual assault and domestic violence. Councilors can also be deployed to situations where police are brought in to address homeless encampments. I’d also like to reduce police expenditures by having more police on horse or bicycles rather idling cars.

Ray Morquecho: AGAINST 

I understand a negative perception towards our police force, or policing in general, exists. Some have turned to advocating for less police or less resources for policing. This is a response that doesn’t address the multitude of needs our community has in regards to housing, social welfare programs, homelessness, business concerns, public safety as a whole, and the need to reconnect police and residents on a face-to-face, humanizing basis. A blanket statement of defunding police doesn’t solve our larger societal problems. It has to be a combination of practical training reform, transparency, and community outreach, not one or the other.

Mariela Salgado: IN FAVOR 

In favor, we should be place priority in our communities and people of Long Beach. Adding more officers is not the answer to reduce crime. It’s investing in our youth, in rehabilitation programs, workforce development etc.

Misi Tagaloa: IN FAVOR 

Depending on what you mean by police funding, taxpayers may not be getting an optimal return on their direct investment in law enforcement. We should consider repositioning these resources in educative and preventative programs targeting 12-26-year-old. Law enforcement should engage community groups, business groups, HOAs and faith organizations as partners in instantiating law and order early on in youth development.

Mary Zendejas: NEUTRAL 

I believe our public safety officers are an essential part of keeping our city safe and should continue to be a priority in our funding.

 


Candidate Explanations

Shelbyrae Black: IN FAVOR

No explanation.

Joe Ganem: IN FAVOR 

Preventative programs for youth are valuable and should be undertaken by partnering with the schools and non-profits. The city also has programs through the parks department that should be expanded in areas where there is need. Mental health is a serious problem that is only now getting the attention it deserves as a medical condition. Expenditures for MH should be considered in conjunction with the schools, health department, homeless services, police/fire and non-profits like Mental Health America. The city receives grants that are distributed to many of these groups. As a member of the Continuum of Care Board, we distributed millions every year to these programs. I’m not familiar with restorative justice in schools.

Elliot Gonzales: IN FAVOR 

No explanation.

Ray Morquecho: IN FAVOR 

This question is a great follow up to the police funding question above. These are the programs that need to be funded as well as police, fire, hospitals, and infrastructure to provide a brighter future for Long Beach. Long Beach residents are willing to tax themselves as long as it used to help the community. Yet we still find ourselves asking for permanent higher taxes and higher parking fines to balance our budget. These priorities need to come first. Long Beach has a spending problem, not a funding problem.

Mariela Salgado: IN FAVOR 

Absolutely in favor, I’d like to see more funding in our Youth Fund as Mayor reduced it by half in this year’s budget. I’d like to increase funding for early education to support its strategic plan and reduce the achievement gap, increase the likelihood of healthier lifestyles and lower crime rates. We need more resources for communities of color and address the stark inequities in our communities.

Misi Tagaloa: IN FAVOR 

There is strong evidence that the most formative years in a youth’s life is between 12-26. If we impact young people during those years and turn them towards good, we will have less problems later-on as they age. Let’s take an honest look at after-school programs and see if they need upgrading. A precondition of restorative justice is a healthy community where the offending individual gets restored back into. Without a strong, stable and sustainable community, restorative justice is just a nice idea.

Mary Zendejas: IN FAVOR 

Yes. I look forward to working with the members of the City Council on ways to expand these types of programs. As a youth mentor and program director for the MAPS to College program which supports students with disabilities get into college and job placement, I have firsthand experience on making these types of investments successful and look forward to expanding that work across the city of Long Beach.

 


Candidate Explanations

Shelbyrae Black: NEUTRAL 

No explanation.

Joe Ganem: IN FAVOR 

Whenever possible, we should hire locally. However, Long Beach is part of a large metropolitan area and we all benefit from the region’s economy. Thus, if it’s in the community’s best interest to consider other labor sources, the city benefits. We must be good stewards of the city’s finances.

Elliot Gonzales: IN FAVOR 

Beyond even just “local hire”, we need to guarantee everyone a job. A jobs program was something Dr. King called for 60 years ago, nothing radical about this idea. Bernie Sanders is calling for a jobs program. I’m calling for a jobs program doing some of the most important work, that is taking care of the Earth and each other.

Ray Morquecho: NEUTRAL

I am in favor of advocating for local contracts when considering public works contracts and building within Long Beach as it helps local businesses, residents, and our tax base. I am not inclined to support policies that tell businesses who to hire. As a small-business owner, I know how hard it is to go through the hiring process and selecting someone that is right for your business and corporate culture. Adding government restrictions on a fairly personal decision is not something I would be in favor of.

Mariela Salgado: IN FAVOR 

No explanation.

Misi Tagaloa: IN FAVOR

Using our dollars to hire our residents make sense on so many levels. It keeps our economy healthy; it reduces transportation costs, thus reducing harm to the environment; it increases time spent in communities. It allows unemployed residents to contribute. It frees up discretionary income that can be invested in local businesses. It allows us to live, work and play locally, while we impact the world globally.

Mary Zendejas: IN FAVOR 

Yes. Any opportunity we have to employ Long Beach residents is a great thing. In addition to having this policy, I believe its important that we have opportunities with our local unions for apprenticeship programs and opportunities to learn new skills that will help people stay employed long term.

 


Candidate Explanations

Shelbyrae Black: NEUTRAL 

No explanation.

Joe Ganem: IN FAVOR

I was Executive Director of the Bike Federation of Washington State and passed the first Bicycle Helmet law and Bicycle Safety Act. Long Beach is trying to promote all forms of non-motorized transportation. However, I’m concerned someone is going to be hurt the way these e-scooters are being operated now. They can’t compete with automobiles but are expected to be in the roadway instead of sidewalks and trails. Further, unsafe operation is creating a problem for pedestrians. I want to encourage use, but not at the expense of rider’s lives or pedestrian safety. We need enforceable rules.

Elliot Gonzales: IN FAVOR 

Yes and more bike lanes all throughout Long Beach, including West Long Beach and North Long Beach. We need bike lanes to every school and college campus.

Ray Morquecho: NEUTRAL 

I think micromobility has been a great way to increase exploration, ease auto transportation, and generally has been a good thing for Long Beach. I am also afraid that people are not using them as intended and opening up our residents to injury, blight, and the businesses to vandalism as some residents are not fans. Generally speaking, I need to see more proposals to keep people safe before voting to add more.

Mariela Salgado: NEUTRAL 

I believe spending should be in addressing housing affordability, homelessness and infrastructure.

Misi Tagaloa: IN FAVOR 

The idea of lower carbon emissions, micro mobility and short-term rental appeals to me. I would like to see their long-term impact on residents, community and the environment.

Mary Zendejas: NEUTRAL 

New forms of mobility are great but their impact on the quality of life for residents also needs to be examined. I look forward to studying the results of current pilot programs that are happening throughout the city and determining from there what the best course of action would be.


Candidate Explanations

Shelbyrae Black: IN FAVOR 

No explanation.

Joe Ganem: AGAINST

Rent control doesn’t work. It abrogates our free enterprise system by making a false promise of greater equity for some while taking someone else’s property rights. The underlying problem is housing availability. We have a supply vs demand problem that is driving up rents. Solve that issue by reducing burdensome regulations and building more rentals and there will be no need for rent control. Further, rent control is a band aid where we need a real solution, thus postponing the need to provide more housing.

Elliot Gonzales: IN FAVOR

Not only I do support rent control, my campaign is calling for a community land trust, which is a legal entity that purchases or develops housing soley for the purpose of providing affordable housing. Right now we are responding to the market which is favoring higher income people and displacing low-income residents. A land trust is a way to provide housing outside of the market interests.

Ray Morquecho: AGAINST 

California has recently passed statewide rent control with a myriad of confusing exemptions. Long Beach has a tenant relocation ordinance to help protect renters but is seen as a wealth transfer by housing providers. As a renter, I understand the calls for rent control but know they won’t actually help keep people in their homes or stabilize rents. The only way to stop rising rents is to build more affordable housing and increase density appropriately. We accomplish this by standing up to NIMBYism and decreasing the barriers to building in Long Beach so investors can build the units we need.

Mariela Salgado: NEUTRAL 

We should place a moratorium on rent increases.

Misi Tagaloa: AGAINST 

I’m against the idea of rent control (RC) because it is wrong on many levels. This is someone’s lively-hood, RC dis-incentivize investments, RC promotes slum conditions, RC allows folks to settle for temporary solutions to an existential problem. RC dis-incentivize equity or homeownership. Renting was meant to be short term. On the other hand, tenants are paying for a product and they should receive the benefit of their bargain. When Landlords gouge tenants and rents become burdensome, the community suffers, and so local municipalities must step in to reduce unnecessary suffering.

Mary Zendejas: NEUTRAL 

I support the work that has been done at the state level to place rent caps at 5% and the work that has been done locally to support tenants who are displaced with relocation funds.


Candidate Explanations

Shelbyrae Black: IN FAVOR 

No explanation.

Joe Ganem: AGAINST 

We have adequate tenant protection. What we need is a way to identify properties that are perpetual sources of tenant problems and get them into compliance. The code enforcement officers should concentrate on these properties rather than worry about trying to inspect everyone when the issues are limited, and personnel are already stretched.

Elliot Gonzales: IN FAVOR 

I support a tenants bill of rights.

Ray Morquecho: AGAINST 

Expanding tenant protections isn’t what Long Beach needs. We need to work with city government and housing providers to help those that are experiencing a tough time with appropriate, temporary rent assistance, de-stigmatizing section-8 housing, advocating for fix-income housing, and creating an equitable relocation ordinance that listens to the concerns of both parties. Like it or not, renters and housing providers need to work together to fix this housing crisis. It isn’t good vs. evil.

Mariela Salgado: NEUTRAL 

No explanation.

Misi Tagaloa: IN FAVOR 

When Landlords are gouging tenants and tenants are on a fixed income, the tenants must be protected. I support AB1482 signed into law this week, which caps rental increases to 5% annually for rentals 15 years or older. With this statewide tenant protection law, we will be able to hold rents stable in Long Beach as we create more affordable housing.

Mary Zendejas: IN FAVOR 

Yes. As a majority-renter city we need to always be looking at new opportunities to support renters in a fair and balanced way.

 


Candidate Explanations

Shelbyrae Black: NEUTRAL 

No explanation.

Joe Ganem: IN FAVOR 

Every person, regardless of legal or economic status should be entitled to proper health care.

Elliot Gonzales: IN FAVOR 

I support expanding health services for all people, who cares their registered status, we are talking about health services. This is a basic human need.

Ray Morquecho: NO STANCE 

Undocumented people, people experiencing homelessness, the mentally ill, and those living below the poverty line are all in need of help. The unfortunate part is that resources to just give everyone everything without addressing the other issues associated isn’t an option. We need to accept that there is a limitation to what our city, county, and state can absorb and work to make sure our healthcare system is reformed to increase access while addressing undocumented immigration, mental health services, as well as substance abuse and vocation job training. Healthcare is not a for or against answer.

Mariela Salgado: NO STANCE 

This is federal law – I believe from an administrative and procedural process we can do more to ensure we are providing language access, supportive services and educational opportunities to everyone. I was a Dreamer before there were dreamers and believe the opportunities lie in adding language access, supportive resources but more importantly educational attainment that provides real economic opportunity.

Misi Tagaloa: IN FAVOR

Expanding access and services to undocumented people sow seeds of compassion that will yield dividends in Long Beach for generations to come. It is the right thing to do; and with it comes the responsibility of finding resources and underutilized capacity to fund access and health services for everyone. I see expanding access to health services an infrastructural piece fundable with Measure A funds.

Mary Zendejas: IN FAVOR 

Yes. As someone who immigrated to this county as a young girl in search of better health care, I believe that we must do more to treat everyone like the human beings that they are.

 


Candidate Explanations

Shelbyrae Black: IN FAVOR  

No explanation.

Joe Ganem: NEUTRAL

US and State Laws typical govern most ownership and use of weapons. In general, I’m opposed to people owning weapons designed for military and mass destruction. The founders, accustomed to muskets never envisioned an AR-15, or people owning and using them. I do think we can require permits, training, certification and licensing within the limitations under current law. If it were up to me, I’d ban all weapons not intended for personal protection and hunting/sport.

Elliot Gonzales: IN FAVOR

No explanation.

Ray Morquecho: IN FAVOR

I am a supporter of people’s individual freedoms and against banning people’s rights to purchase, legally, guns of their choosing. Gun violence is on the rise here in Long Beach and I think common sense regulations like licensing, training requirements, and background checks are the way to help make sure gun ownership is as safe as it can be. However, this question, like many asked in this survey, point to deeper issues like gang violence, mental health, community youth programs, and the overall state of the family unit.

Mariela Salgado: IN FAVOR

No explanation.

Misi Tagaloa: IN FAVOR

I would like to see local data on both the harm and benefits of guns in Long Beach to determine whether additional regulatory measures are necessary. At the very minimum, common sense gun laws should be put in place. Assault weapons such as AR15 or AK47 have no place in the home.

Mary Zendejas: IN FAVOR

Yes. I would be interested in implementing new strategies to regulate the distribution of guns in our community.

 


Graphic by Michael Lozano

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VoiceWaves

VoiceWaves

VoiceWaves is a Long Beach youth-led journalism and media-training project. The youth, ages 16-24, are learning to report, write, and create digital journalism content. Their reports will raise awareness of community health issues and activate change.