Four Democrats are vying to represent the newly rescheduled 69th Assembly District during the June 7 statewide primary — and essentially become the successor to longtime Assembly member Patrick O’Donnell.
After redistributing boundary changes, State Assembly District 69 now covers almost all of Long Beach, as well as Signal Hill and most of Carson. O’Donnell, the Long Beach Democrat who had represented the area for the past eight years as a member of the 70th District Assembly, decided not to run for another term.
If no candidate receives a majority, the top two finishers will face off in November’s general election.
At the forefront of both fundraising and name recognition are Long Beach counselor Al Austin and businessman Josh Lowenthal. Also on the ballot are Janet Foster and Mary Taheri.
Austin, 53, is in the middle of his third term on the city council, representing the Eighth District. He also works with labor groups. He is the only candidate to have experience in elected office.
Austin raised $130,498 in the first four months of 2022 and has $101,728 in the bank.
Lowenthal, 52, is a small businessman and longtime leader of Long Beach politicians Bonnie Lowenthal and Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach’s son; Both of them got divorced long back. Chhota Lowenthal ran for District 72 in the 2018 state assembly, placing first in the primary but losing the runoff.
He declined to comply with spending limits in 2022, and reported raising $536,961 with $495,530 in the bank.
Foster, 56, is a health care administrator and member of the Los Angeles County Democratic Central Committee. This is his first run for public office.
It reported raising $9,670, with $4,696 still in the bank.
Taheri, 49, is a nurse practitioner and an Afghan American who, according to her website, was trafficked from Afghanistan at the age of 7 after her parents were killed by the Russian military. Taheri works with people who are currently or formerly homeless at Skid Row in Los Angeles.
She had not filed a financial report with the California Secretary of State until Thursday, May 12.
Housing and homelessness are among the top issues the state legislature needs to address, according to candidates’ answers to a questionnaire by the Southern California Newsgroup. But they differ on how the state should help those problems.
Austin said cities that have completed housing element plans, such as Long Beach, should be exempt from legislative mandates such as State Senate Bill 9.
“Recognizing that California is facing a major housing affordability crisis, state lawmakers have a moral responsibility to advance the agenda to develop housing in areas of high need, backed with similar guidelines, resources, and incentives. ,” They said. “At the same time, the legislature must recognize that there are many differences and disparities in cities across the state.”
Taheri pointed to his work on Skid Row, saying that homelessness is the number 1 issue facing the state, and it can be reduced by using a “housing first” approach. He said that the state should spend more on affordable housing and buy more motels for the project HomeKey.
Meanwhile, Lowenthal said economic concerns remain the biggest concern in the state – from both individuals and owners of businesses.
“The last few years have been tough for our communities,” he said. “We need to use all the tools at our disposal to create well-paying jobs and improve our existing jobs.
“(We should) ensure that our children return to school – and get the help they need to make up for the education they lost,” Lowenthal said. “Make sure our neighborhoods are safe from crime and violence – and create a sense of community we’ve lost during the lockdown.”
Foster also expressed concern about the economy, saying that the primary problem is the cost of living in California. Managing the housing stock, she said, can help address that issue.
The 69th Assembly District includes the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
All the candidates stressed that more investment in technology is needed to further clean the air while maintaining the job-generating engines – the two busiest ports in the country – have become.
He also said that the state government should take the lead in equity efforts by creating opportunities for the traditionally disadvantaged communities.
Lowenthal counted Mayor Robert Garcia, State Sen. Lina Gonzalez, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, O’Donnell and his father in his support.
Austin lists local authorities in Long Beach, Carson, Signal Hill and beyond, as well as the Long Beach Firefighters Association and several area associations as endorsers.
Foster does not list ads on its website.
Taheri has three lists: Francis Byhower, a professor at Long Beach City College; the non-profit advocacy group California Bicycle Coalition; and Doctors of Nursing Practice, another nonprofit that seeks to “improve healthcare outcomes by promoting and enhancing a doctoral-ready nursing professional,” according to its website.
The primary election is June 7, but mail-in ballots are out now.