(March 10, 2007) -- Al Austin has announced the endorsement of LB Mayor Bob Foster -- in the presence of previous endorsers Councilmembers Suja Lowenthal and Patrick O'Donnell -- all of whom would sit alongside Mr. Austin if he's elected LB's next 6th district Councilmember in the May 1 winner-take-all special election to succeed Laura Richardson (elected to the state Assembly in November).
Mayor Foster called Mr. Austin "a thoughtful, energetic person who will be tremendous addition to the City Council. I'm not only endorsing him. I'm enthusiastically endorsing him and I think it's essential that he win this election."
The March 10 event outside LB's Veterans Park was attended by Mr. Austin's supporters including Assemblywoman Betty Karnette (D., L.A.), LB Firefighters union president Rich Brandt and Ms. Virgie Wade of the Central Area Ass'n.
In his remarks [transcript below], Mr. Austin, now a staffer with a major public employee union [American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees] after working as a staffer for former L.A.-area State Senator Kevin Murray (D., L.A.), said he was "the consensus candidate in this race. I'm the candidate with the background, the experience and the proven track record of results."
Mr. Austin noted that he'd worked on candidate Foster's Mayoral campaign and "I believed in everything that he said in that campaign and as a matter of fact, it probably did a lot to inspire me for this run here today." Mayor Foster said in response, "If I even had a small part to play in your run for office after working in my campaign, that's a real honor."
Mr. Austin called the Sixth District "the heart of our city...If the Sixth District does well, the entire city of Long Beach will prosper. We can ill afford to leave any area of our city behind. Today our greatest potential rests within the most challenged areas of our city. We can no longer ignore our challenges."
Councilmembers Suja Lowenthal and Patrick O'Donnell attended the event but didn't speak [translation: saving the spotlight for the Mayor, Wrigley area resident/state lawmaker Karnette and the candidate]
Mr. Austin said Assemblywoman Karnette had been a mentor to him. Assemblywoman Karnette said, "I live very close by and I want this man helping us out in Wrigley. This is my neighborhood. Good luck, Al. You have my support."
In his remarks at the event, Mr. Austin said:
Mr. Austin: ...Over the last several years as a resident of this great city, I've worked tirelessly as a volunteer in our community. I've been an advocate for good government. I've participate in countless number of neighborhood clean-ups right here in the Central Area. I've led large scale community projects right here in the Central Area. I've worked nearly every precinct in this city and gone on a countless number of ride-alongs with our police officers.
I'm currently active with and serve on the board of directors of a number of community-based organizations here, and I'm proud to say that I serve on the Academic Uprise board of directors as its chair. I serve on the YMCA board, Fairfield branch. I serve on the Midnight Basketball advisory board and a number of other organizations working to improve the quality of life in this city.
I've also served as an advocate for working families for over a decade while working for two of the largest labor organizations in the county: the UAW [United Auto Workers] and AFSCME [American Fed'n of State, County & Municipal Employees].
And I've served as a staffer to a State Senator in Los Angeles [former State Senator Kevin Murray (D., LA)].
I've had experience working on several issues that certainly impact the residents of the 6th district: public safety, urban parks, budgets, transportation, organizational development, civil participation and labor/management.
I want to use my experience to help make Long Beach become a new shining city by the sea, a great American city that exemplifies the spirit of diversity in every way. A cleaner city. A safer city. A smarter city. A more tolerant city. A destination city for tourism and entertainment. A city with clean, charming neighborhoods throughout. This is my vision for Long Beach in the next five to ten years.
The Sixth District is the heart of our city, folks. If the Sixth District does well, the entire city of Long Beach will prosper. [applause] We can ill afford to leave any area of our city behind. Today our greatest potential rests within the most challenged areas of our city. We can no longer ignore our challenges.
I want to challenge our residents in the Sixth District and throughout the city, and I want to challenge our civic leaders at City Hall to deal with these issues in a response and deliberate manner.
As the next Sixth District Councilmember, I want to lead an economic and civic renaissance in the Central Area. I will work to attract more financial institutions, professional office space and family restaurants. I want to help maintain and restore the middle class and middle class neighborhoods by working to create quality jobs and opportunities.
I want to help lead our community's fight for cleaner air, sustainable development and green space, and I want our youth to have more recreational opportunities.
[Points to Veterans Park sign saying "Committed to our Youth."] See that sign behind us? We're committed to our youth. There's a demographic that's not profiled up there, and that's our teenagers, from age 15 through 18, young adults, teenagers who have very little opportunity in this city.
I want to push and have a conversation with our city's business leaders, to create job opportunities for our urban youth.
I'm a candidate for Long Beach City Council because I know I can make a difference. I'm a proven problem solver, a consensus builder, and I'm a strong advocate. I'm a skilled negotiator who produces practical results. I have an established track record of results throughout my career, just check, and throughout my involvement with the great Democratic party.
I want to renew the public's trust in government. I want to restore hope for our youth. I want to build effective and meaningful partnerships with our education stakeholders in the city, our school district, our community college district and our universities. These are great assets to have in the city. I want to empower our community and enhance civic participation throughout the district.
And to date, I'm proud to have the endorsement of a number of prominent elected officials here in this city and a number of prominent organizations including the Firefighters Association, Police Officers Association and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and most recently the Long Beach Democratic Club. [applause]
My friends, I'm the consensus candidate in this race. I'm the candidate with the background, the experience and the proven track record of results. I'm the only candidate who's truly prepared to hit the ground running and on May 1 we'll get there with your help. Door by door, neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block we're going to win this election with a message and we're going to resonate with the voters here. [applause].
Also attending the event were Mr. Austin's father (Mr. Austin introduced him first at the event) and his wife Daysha (has been a Legislative Analyst in the 6th district Council office under former Councilwoman Richardson).
The winner of the May 1 special election in LB's Central Area 6th district (to fill the seat held by Laura Richardson who was elected in November to the State Assembly) will have an equal vote with other Councilmembers on development issues from NLB to Belmont Shore and spending priorities citywide.