WHAT QUESTIONS WENT UNPOSED AT THE 3RD DISTRICT DEBATE? WELL, NOW THAT YOU ASK…By Dave Wielenga
BY DAVE WIELENGA
The three candidates running for the Third District seat on the City Council ran their mouths for more than 90 minutes Monday night during the Long Beach Press Club’s Debate At Da’ Beach. But there were still more questions than answers—a lot more.
That’s what happens when constituents care enough about an election to nearly pack a place as big as the Gaslamp restaurant—which, by the way, is usually closed on Mondays but whose owners care enough about local democracy to open the doors specifically to accommodate the event.
The four members of the press panel had prepared their interrogations of incumbent Gary DeLong and challengers Terry Jensen and Tom Marchese. Attendees submitted their questions on index cards. And viewers of the live Webcast presented by Beer & Politics partners Michael Clements and Costin Tuculescu on Instant Presenter techno-transmitted even more queries—and comments.
So what didn’t get asked … or answered?
Here’s a sampling:
—How will you overcome the fact that Long Beach residents demand [underlined on index card] improvement to the city and its development, but resist every attempt to develop any part of land in Long Beach?
—Understanding that the large majority of fire department calls are for paramedics, do you think there might be areas that could be cut there?
—To Tom Marchese: You claim to be an attorney but the California Bar has no record of you. Are you an attorney?
—How will you work toward developing the 4,000 additional units of housing [underlined on index card] for very low-income residents that are required by the Housing Element that the city submitted to the state last year?
—If Jensen stopped stuttering and was more confident, people would listen.
—Will you help restore the library’s budget for materials to the $1.5 million it was two years ago?
—Gary DeLong, why have you not pushed to fill the seat on the Belmont Shore Parking Commission that is reserved for a representative of the residents? The Belmont Shore Residents Association recommended that its vice-president, Terry Enderson, be appointed—but the seat has remained vacant for about a year and there have been meetings in which business could not be conducted due to lack of a quorum. Can you explain?
—Do you support or oppose plans by Orange County and CalTrans to widen the 405 Freeway by two-to-four additional lanes from the LA/OC line to John Wayne Airport? What impact do you think this freeway widening would have on Long Beach?
—Please explain your position on councilpersons using Facebook, surfing the net, texting, etc. during council meetings.
—Do you support Home Depot-style development along Studebaker Road east and north of the Los Cerritos Wetlands? Is development of retail or commercial space adjacent to the wetlands consistent with protection of that open space?
—DeLong, pick a side!
—I understand you will not raise taxes, but support of an increase in gas rates amounts to a tax. Do you think we should have an increase just “because you can?”
—What grade do you give to Redevelopment Agency projects over the last 10 years?
—Can you cite a city that would be a good example of where Long Beach should go?
—Seventy percent of the city’s budget goes for police and fire department services. Is this really necessary? Or are council and candidates afraid of police and fire department unions?
—Marchese seems well rehearsed.
—You all realize we live in a city? That there will be traffic?
—A year or so ago Councilmember DeLong advocated for the ousting of then-Belmont Shore Residents Association president Mike Ruehle, even showing up at the group’s election to pass out write-in stickers for his preferred slate of replacement candidates. Gary, if you could do it over again, would you? Tom and Terry, how would you have behaved if you were on the council at the time?
—Terry Jensen, you were indecisive and vacillating regarding your candidacy—off-again and on-again from September to January. When explaining your January decision not to run you told The District Weekly, “My mind just kept going back to an evening I attended a meeting on the Alamitos Peninsula that was related to a big parking issue… I was sitting in the back listening—and thinking, ‘This is really important for these folks on the Peninsula, but it’s not very important to me. They are spending an inordinate amount of time talking about a parking issue, while the city is falling into a financial abyss. I realized that is not what I want to do.” But the next day you did an about-face and decided to run. Are you still not interested in community issues?
—Gary DeLong, we do not feel represented when you are not present at city council meetings, or when you leave early.
There are the questions. You have until election day on April 13 to get the answers.