The Long Beach Reform Coalition is pleased to announce that 1st District Long Beach City Council Special Election (Nov. 5th) candidates Elliot Gonzales, Joe Ganem, and Shelbyrae Black have taken the bold step of joining with ‘2020 Reform Ticket’ candidates Juan Ovalle (District 8) and Robert Fox (District 2) in signing The Long Beach Reform Pledge. We congratulate Ganem, Gonzales, and Black for their leadership in the reform movement in the 1st Council District.
Some of the other candidates in the 1st District have reached out to us to express their general support for the proposals codified in The Reform Pledge but have either stated that they have a policy against signing pledges or have expressed the need for more time to review it in detail, given the hectic nature of the final phase of the campaign. We hope that they will quickly publicize their agreement with the urgent need to reform the way business is done at Long Beach City Hall—in particular the need for much greater transparency and interest in public participation and the issue of big, quid pro quo money infecting incumbent and insider campaigns—at the time and in the fashion of their choosing.
Notably, we received no response whatsoever from the candidate with the lion’s share of special interest backing, who has clearly been chosen by the City Hall establishment for this council seat, Mary Zendejas. While her message as a candidate is vague, her monetary resources, including those from unlimited ‘independent expenditures’ on her behalf, have the potential to drown the competition and thereby pervert the democratic process. All told, including independent expenditures, her money backing is nearly double her nearest self-funding competitor and more than triple her nearest non-self-funding competitor (see “Updated 1st Council District Campaign Contribs And Their Sources” and “LB Firefighters Union PAC Just Spent Another $12k…” from LBReport.com). By contrast, Reform Pledge signatory Elliot Gonzales has gone so far as to make a video calling attention to his signing onto The Reform Pledge, as well as The Sunshine Pledge:
Lastly, a note from LBRC Exec. Dir. Ian Patton:
We’ve been moving backwards on political reform in Long Beach for far too long. The ordinance known as the Long Beach Campaign Reform Act was passed in 1994 and lasted intact only about a decade. Ever since it’s been steadily eroded by self-serving city council politicians. There’s a word for moving in the opposite direction of ‘reforming’ something. It’s called ‘deforming’. That’s what they’ve been doing to the rails put on our local democracy 25 years ago, and it’s that old spirit of clean government from the mid-‘80s through the mid-‘90s which we hope to restore to Long Beach, and build upon, with The Long Beach Reform Pledge.
I hope that all journalists reporting on politics in our city are aware and thoughtful of this unfortunate history of decline from the standards achieved back when the last local reform movement won its historic victories (including campaign finance reform, term limits, and district-elected council seats). They built locally on previous statewide reforms like the Brown Act and the California Public Records Act, which created bulwarks against corruption and machine politics. Unfortunately, some shortsighted local politicians, serving their own interests, have sought to dismantle these protections and to degrade the quality of the democratic process. They are the reason we came into existence last year. They are why
we are called the Long Beach Reform Coalition.