LBRC Challenges 1st District City Council Candidates

Soon after they unveiled their Long Beach Reform Pledge, the Long Beach Reform Coalition (LBRC) issued a challenge this week to all District 1 city council candidates. The candidates have now reached their last day to accept or deny this challenge.

Last Wednesday, Oct 16th, the LBRC hosted an event to publicly introduce what they have dubbed the Long Beach Reform Pledge. The Pledge outlines nine commitments that candidates promise to adhere to if elected to office. It calls for more public input and government transparency, the Pledge also works to limit areas in which the LBRC believes the city council has taken too much power.

In attendance were candidates Juan Ovalle (District 8 candidate) and Robert Fox (District 2 candidate) who publicly signed the Pledge. The two city council candidates are, in fact, LBRC board members as well and have been deemed a part of the “2020 Reform Ticket”.

“The LBRC’s 2020 Reform Ticket is not only a pledge but a call to action to set up the groundwork that will affect positive change in our community and pave the way for needed reforms.” said candidate Ovalle in an email to LBLN.

For candidate Robert Fox, signing the Reform Pledge was a step toward addressing his long-time frustrations with what he says has been a loss of democracy in Long Beach. 

“Moral center has been so lost. We have to start talking about how we bring back democracy,” Fox said. “…There’s not one thing in this pledge that our Founding Fathers wouldn’t have supported.”

The LBRC further challenged candidates running for the District 1 special election to join the two in signing the Pledge. In an email sent to each candidate this Monday, Oct. 21st, the LBRC told them they believe the Pledge will help voters “differentiate candidates who truly believe in a vigorous, open democratic process…apart from those candidates who only pay lip service to good government practices and reforms.”

They gave the District 1 candidates one week to sign before they disclose the list of signers and show the public which candidates chose to participate in the Reform Pledge and those who did not. This announcement is scheduled to be released Monday, Oct. 28th.

For one Pledge commitment, candidates agreed to reform and limit the use of officeholder’s accounts (meant for expenses associated with holding office), including restoring $5,000 caps and repealing changes that allowed officeholders to transfer between accounts. 

The Pledge also addressed the city council’s use of taxpayer dollars last year to distribute informational flyers on a set of charter amendments (measures AAA, BBB, CCC, and DDD). Headed by the LBRC, critics cited a lack of neutral information and claimed the ballot’s language was intentionally misleading.

In response, several residents distributed their own ballot arguments. Last year, however, the city responded with steps toward taking these residents to court, claiming they included “false statements”. Fox and Ovalle were two of these residents.

The two candidates and the other writers of these ballot arguments did eventually decide to settle with the city.

By Jewel Sanchez