Councilman Colonna...Good morning, Long Beach. I just am really excited about today. It's an opportunity for me to be what I think I can be and all that I am.
But I wouldn't actually be even close to that if I didn't have my beautiful wife Michelle and we will be in a few weeks 36 years being married. [applause] My son Jeremy, my daughters Megan and Laurel. These guys are my life, you know.
[to assembled crowd] Thank you so much for coming. I'm excited about being here today as you all know to announce my candidacy for Mayor in a great city that I dedicated my life serving and strengthening.
In fact, my career began here in Long Beach long ago -- not as a public servant but as a newspaper boy. And what better job than that to come to appreciate our great city, its strong neighborhoods and its diverse people.
I have long since moved on to public service to our community. Closest to my heart is my working to protect our environment. As a former Director of city's Environmental Health Department, I helped to create a better quality of life by working with state and local officials to reduce pollution in our air, our rivers and in our beaches.
As Chair of the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy and a member of our City Council, I've fought hard to protect and preserve our parks and open spaces for us and for future generations.
I've worked hard and you know where I stand.
I strongly oppose the installation of a Liquefied Natural Gas facility in our port. [applause], a plan that poses very real threats to our environment and our citizens, and have urged my fellow candidates to understand very clearly that opposition to this site means a better and safer Long Beach and better and safer neighborhoods.
I have a pledge that I have here [displays written pledge]. My pledge is not to support this natural gas facility that poses in my estimation a clear and present danger to our city and its residents. I have it here. I signed it, and we're sending copies to each of the candidates that are running for Mayor, to see if they're willing to step up and state their position as far as our city and its safety. [Full pledge text below; to jump to it, click here.]
As your next Mayor, [applause] I will implement an aggressive conservation agenda [applause] that will include a Green City Energy Policy using solar technology and alternate fuel sources. I will also create the city's first Energy and Conservation Commission. [applause] It's long overdue.
I first ran for City Council in 1998 so that I could continue my commitment to environmentral protection and to ensure that our neighborhoods, business districts and all other areas of Long Beach are safer and stronger. On the Council, I championed a new and innovative Police Personnel Strategy to put more police officers on the streets and in our neighborhoods as well as earmark new revenues for recruits.
I also worked to create a city employee mentor program for our young people and helped craft language for "Operation Safe Streets," a program designed to rid our neighborhoods of blight and gangs. As Mayor, I will start a new program called "Operation Second Chance" to help those first-time offenders get back on the right foot -- learn a trade, further their education and become productive Long Beach citizens.
Finally. my work as a community activist and City Councilmember has focused on the basics: filling potholes, beautifying city streets, helping instill pride in downtown and bringing people together to strengthen our neighborhoods. I served as President of the Belmont Shore Business Association for eight years and understand first-hand what businesses need to do to thrive. As Mayor, a strong business base with high paying jobs will be one of my top priorities.
As a former instructor at Cal State Long Beach and father of three who attended our local schools, I understand the needs of our teachers and the important role our schools and institutions of higher learning play in our community.
As Mayor, I will continue my back-to-basics approach with the understanding that a strong infrastructrure is essential to a strong city.
Environmental protection, public safety and empowering our neighborhoods will be my priorities. I worked side by side with Mayor Beverly O'Neill in helping to revitalize our great city. And I ask for you to welcome me as a trusted and reliable friend and neighbor. I'm ready to serve you as your next Mayor. Thank you very much. [applause]
[speaking extemporaneously]...I do want to let you know how important it is for the next generation of leadership in Long Beach. The Mayor has done an outstanding job. No one could ever question [it] and I always testify to that every Tuesday night on the City Council, and whenever she and I get together to discuss policy and major issues that we need to work together on.
The next level is going to be to continue to carry that forward, to work to make sure that people understand that this is a great city. We don't have to take a back seat any longer to any other city in the region. Long Beach is now a new Long Beach, and...the renaissance that we're experiencing now is not going to be confined to just certain small areas of the city. This renaissance is going to translate to the entire city, and that's why I'm really running, because it's time I feel that that city that we call this beautiful city by the sea is entitled to no less than that type of leadership and I'm ready to take that on...
...Q: Do you have some salient points that distinguish you from the others that have entered the race so far?
A: ...I'm going to be speaking on the issues and I think that so far there's been a real vacuum on that. Because I serve on the City Council, I've championed a lot of good things for our city...The others will have to speak for themselves. Experience I think is what counts. You the kids say it's a big country so anybody can run, but I think that clearly demonstrating leadership and experience I think is going to be the telling difference between myself and whoever else is out in the field.
Q:: After making a very sort of public announcement last year that you would not be seeking the office of Mayor, what happened to change your mind?
A:: Well, there had been so many people that asked me to rethink my position...[and] without that support I wouldn't have been here announcing today, because I always felt that if I had to really, really get out there and try to convince people that they should support me, then there's no business for me in this race. But I'm really pleased by the overwhelming amount of support, and you see it here...
[to follow-up question]...I don't walk off the field, and now more than ever I think Long Beach needs some steady hands at the helm. We are moving forward. We've got golden opportunities that are right in front of us and in my opinion, and it's always been that way when I ran for City Council, is that our city can be the capital of southern California, and we're on the threshold of developing that right now in terms of our reputation for being a city with a great renaissance.
Q: ...Would you support additional taxes or anything like that to bring the budget into balance?
A:: I'm very, very reluctant of getting into this issue of supporting citywide taxes. I think right now the City Council needs to work on its credibility. Its primary objective here is to establish that we are leaders, and that we represent all of the city, not just certain small interests...I think our work right now is to reassure the city that we've got a strong, cohesive City Council that's working together for the betterment of the entire city. I think once you get that level of confidence, then the people will support us in just about everything that we want to try to accomplish as long as we know that what it is of substance and it has a true value of what people expect from their tax dollars.
...Q: On the LNG issue, is that in your mind the number one issue in this campaign?
A:: I clearly think it's on the forefront of a lot of people's minds right now. You know, we're talking about public safety and we can't speak out of both sides of our mouth. Public safety is absolutely critical. It's the biggest part of our budget.
...LNG may have its purpose for Californians but certainly not in a heavily populated city [where] it could pose an enormous safety threat to our residents and our two ports that are designated national security.
And I've said before: we've done our job. Our quality of life has been not the best that a lot of people would have because we sacrificed to expand the Port and to expand for more transportation opportunities. And I think enough's enough. I think it's time.
We've taken billions of barrels of oil out of the offshore drilling operations. We've carried our weight in terms of bulk oil here at the Port, so an LNG facility in Long Beach isn't certainly going to be a badge of courage for us. Quite the opposite. I think it's going to be, as I said, a clear and present danger if it ever gets built.
The construction of a liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility at the Port of Long Beach threatens the safety of our citizens, our environment and our infrastructure. An LNG plant has the potential to become a terrorist target and significantly increases the risk of an accident aty our country's third busiest port.
I share the concerns voiced over the past year by our First Responders -- our police officers and fire fighters -- about a potential terrorist target being built in our city. I urge my fellow candidates for mayor to stand up for the health and safety of our city and sign the "No LNG in Long Beach Pledge." Our commitment to the opposition of an LNG plant, stated in writing here, will help to ensure that proposals for a plant in Long Beach are defeated.