Six candidates running for three open seats on the Long Beach City Council will square off in a forum at the Long Beach Public Library this week, in a run-up to the election on Nov. 5 that could potentially shift the balance of power in the city.
The Long Beach League of Women Voters and the library are co-sponsoring the Candidates’ Forum, on Thursday at 7 p.m. The West End Neighbors Civic Association is scheduled to hold a forum on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 10 a.m., at the People’s Church.
The three Republican-backed candidates — Damian Walsh, Mike Franceschini and Janna Jachniewicz — describe themselves as independents intent on creating a “clean slate” on the City Council and instituting a two-year property tax freeze. They claim that Democratic council members reneged on a campaign promise by hiring a number of political supporters, have done little to cut spending, raised taxes and have relied too heavily on long-term borrowing.
The Democrats — incumbent council President Scott Mandel, incumbent Eileen Goggin and newcomer Anthony Eramo — say they plan to continue the administration’s post-Sandy recovery efforts and to return the city to fiscal stability after inheriting a multi-million-dollar deficit from the previous administration.
This week, the Democrats were endorsed by all three unions in the city, the Long Beach Professional Firefighters Local 287, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the Civil Service Employees Association, the last of which endorsed the Republican-led coalition two years ago. Mandel emphasized that a shift on the council would result in a change of administration — and the likely replacement of City Manager Jack Schnirman — that could set back a number of recovery efforts and other projects that are under way.
“I think all the progress that’s gone on since we took office and that we started after Sandy could be jeopardized,” Mandel said. “The progress with our unions could be jeopardized, the relationships we’ve cultivated at every level of government — local, state and federal — could dissolve, and I think it could result in regressing our recovery.”