Grassroots Activist Rae Gabelich Defeats Mayor-Backed Councilman Webb, 2d Incumbent Ousted in '04 LB Election Cycle
(June 9, 2004) -- Grassroots activist Rae Gabelich has defeated 8th district Council incumbent Rob Webb 61% to 39% (2427 to 1551, unofficial until certified).
TVs at Phil Trani's Restaurant (out of control of the Gabelich campaign party) were tuned to the Laker playoff game...but within moments of the polls closing at 8:00 p.m. it became clear -- as Chick Hearn would have said -- that Ms. Gabelich's election victory was "in the refrigerator."
The absentee ballot results (placed online by the City Clerk's office and linked on LBReport.com) showed Ms. Gabelich already leading incumbent Webb by several hundred votes.
The soon to be Councilwoman-elect arrived a few minutes later...and was surrounded by supporters, including Bridget Sramek (LB area aide to Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal), Planning Commissioner (and Ms. Sramek's dad) Nick Sramek and veteran NLB activist Dan Pressburg.
At 8:35 p.m., Mayor Beverly O'Neill -- who had publicly endorsed Webb -- arrived and spoke briefly with Ms. Gabelich, then departed.
Asked afterward by LBReport.com what the Mayor said, Ms. Gabelich replied, "[Mayor O'Neill] said she thought I ran a very above-board campaign and believed that was the right way to do it, and she looks forward to working with me and getting to know me better.
Asked by LBReport.com to comment on her victory, Councilwoman-elect Gabelich said, "This is an opportunity to create positive change for the neighborhoods and for the residents of the city of Long Beach. I look forward to developing strong relationships with fellow Councilpeople and representing our city to the best of my ability."
Among those attending who offered comment:
Councilman Dan Baker: "I'm very excited about the outcome. I think Rae has proven herself to be somebody who stands for the neighborhoods. She is full of energy. She is going to help us tackle some of the big issues we have in Long Beach. And most importantly, she is going to keep the focus of our City Council right where it belongs in every one of our neighborhoods around the city."
Councilwoman Laura Richardson: "Rae has worked very hard from the beginning. Many people didn't expect her to be one of the frontrunners, but she proved if you worked hard, if you get out and walk, if you do a grassroots campaign and talk to people [you can succeed]...One time I heard her talking to someone...and her response was "What do you mean by that, when you said that?" And I think more elected officials need to do that. If you don't understand, pause and make sure you really get it. And I think she's not just saying things to say things, but she really wants to understand how the consituents feel and wants to really help them. And I think that resonated with the residents, and [that's] why they've come out so strongly [for her]."
Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga: "It will be pleasure serving on the Council with her. She's a bright woman and I think we're going to get a lot done."
Former 8th district Counciman and current LBCC Board of Trustee president Jeff Kellogg gave us his assessment of the message of the election: "Business as usual at City Hall is no longer acceptable and will no longer be tolerated. With the election of Rae and Patrick [O'Donnell in the 4th district April], it's a clear indicator that the status quo is [over] and that neighborhoods truly are going to come first. And people have to understand that people live in this city of the neighborhoods, not because we have a big baggage area at the Long Beach Airport. I think it's a great day for the residents. I think change was needed and I think she's going to do a wonderful job."
Others attending included:
Former Council candidate Terry Jensen. Mr. Jensen finished a strong third in April and endorsed Ms. Gabelich.
Los Cerritos/Bixby Knolls realtor and LBHUSH2 activist Mike Kowal, with area resident and activist Lew Nelson.
President of California Earth Corps, an independent environmental organization, Don May with wife Renee.
Claire Murray (Murray & Christensen Communications) with Gabelich campaign consultant Jonathon Krause. Ms. Murray (and partner Ginger Christensen, pictured below) created printed communication pieces for the campaign. Mr. Krause's campaign expertise was acknowledge by several people with whom we spoke.
Councilwoman-elect Gabelich with Ginger Christensen (of Murray & Christensen Communications).
Veteran LB activist Joanne Weinhof O'Byrne.
Top of the Town NLB activists Linda Ivers, Chuck Fowler...with Bixby Knolls area activist Lew Nelson
4th district Councilman-elect Patrick O'Donnell.
LB ECO-link chair (and soon to be Hawaii resident) Diana Mann.
Ms. Gabelich with area realtor Barbara Shoag.
Also attending (not pictured) were LB Police Officers Association president Steve James, LB realtor Joe Sopo, LBCC Trustee Diane McNinch and Signal Hill City Councilman Ed Wilson.
Councilwoman-elect Gabelich, who founded LBHUSH2 (LB Homeowners Under Stress nd Hazard), mounted a campaign that took aim at incumbent Webb for City Hall policies she said were inviting unbridled expansion of the Airport, the Port of LB and 710 freeway, charging that their increased impacts risked worsening LB's quality of life.
Councilman Webb, who denied supporting airport expansion, was supported by LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill, the LB Area Chamber of Commerce, LB icon (and retired Governor) George Deukmejian and the LB Firefighters Association, among others.
Webb is the second incumbent removed by voters in the 2004 election cycle. In April 2004, 4th district voters denied Council incumbent Dennis Carroll a second term.
In April, Ms. Gabelich came within less than 300 votes of outpolling Webb, forcing him into a June runoff. In the June 8 runoff, Ms. Gabelich was endorsed by former 8th district LB Councilman (and LBCC Bd. President) Jeffrey Kellogg, former candidate Terry Jensen, the Teachers Association of LB and the LB Police Officers Association, among others.
Councilman Webb will continue in office until mid-July. Councilwoman-elect Gabelich will take his seat starting with the July 20 City Council meeting.
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