Deukmejian, O'Neill Praise Colonna At Energized Belmont Shore Campaign Event
(May 9, 2006) -- Less than a month before voters decide who will become LB's next Mayor, Councilman Frank Colonna heard retired Gov. George Deukmejian and outgoing LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill -- arguably two of the most famous elected officials in the city's history -- praise Colonna's record on the City Council and as a community leader and urge his election as LB's next Mayor.
To a crowd of roughly 100 energized supporters at Bono's in Belmont Shore, Gov. Deukmejian and Mayor O'Neill went beyond routine political plaudits and delivered strong personal endorsements of Councilman Colonna and his record.
Speaking at the May 8 campaign event, Gov. Deukmejian and Mayor O'Neill both said the election is winnable for Colonna. O'Neill, who won a third-term in a write-in campaign four years ago, said she believes the "momentum has changed" in the race and added, "the election isn't over 'till it's over." The Colonna campaign also displayed combination door hangers and absentee voter cards featuring color photos (front and back) of Mayor O'Neill alongside Councilman Colonna.
Gov. Deukmejian told the crowd, "[W]ith this kind of support, we can do this," adding "we've got to be able to spread the word, there isn't an awful lot of time between now and election day, but with help and with resources, that can happen."
Colonna told the crowd he'd overcome a "blizzard of money" [from the Foster campaign] in April and said the runoff means "it's like cleaning off a chalkboard." He predicted "it's going to be a close election" in June.
In the initial April 11 five-candidate Mayoral contest, retired So. Cal Edison President Bob Foster (who raised and spent the largest sum in the history of LB elections) finished first with roughly 48.5% of the vote. Colonna drew roughly 28.5%; and retired Councilman Doug Drummond had just under 20%. Drummond has endorsed Foster, a move Colonna has previously said he doubts most of Drummond's voters share...and at least two former Drummond supporters attended the Colonna event (former Councilman Jerry Shultz and former 5th district Council candidate Ed Barwick, comments/photos below).
LBReport.com posts extended transcript excerpts and photo coverage below.
Councilman Colonna opened the event with a reflective silence for Belmont Shore community leader Tori Busch, who passed away May 7 at age 42 after a lengthy struggle with cancer. The event then proceeded with remarks from Gov. Deukmejian, Mayor O'Neill and Councilman Colonna.
Gov. Deukmejian:...My first involvement in this area was to hang up my law office shingle in 1958 in a building that is now the "Blockbuster" building. It used to be a bank when I opened my office on the second floor...This area never really began to thrive and to blossom until Frank came along and became the president of the Belmont Shore Business Association, and he devoted virtually full-time, for about eight years, and before Frank we had narrow sidewalks; now we've got beautiful, wide sidewalks. We have stores all occupied and just thriving and a wonderful attraction for people to come here and to enjoy themselves, eat at wonderful places like Bono's and others.
And I've observed him over all these years, and I've seen that when he gets an idea, it's usually a very sound idea, a common-sense idea, but it also is one that's going to require a lot of effort to bring it to fruition.
And one of the things that I have admired about Frank is that he not only has the vision, he not only has the ideas, but then he sees it through and he gets the job done. And I've always been very, very impressed with that, and I have supported him in, I think, virtually every campaign that he's run in, and I'm delighted to be involved in this one.
And I am also telling you that with this kind of support, we can do this, and we've got to be able to spread the word, there isn't an awful lot of time between now and election day, but with help and with resources, that can happen.
And so with the kind of record he's established all these years, serving the public, I know and I'm very confident, that he'll do a tremendous job as our next Mayor.
Now unfortunately for him, he's got to follow Beverly O'Neill. [Laughter, applause].
This lady is something else, she has really taken Long Beach, L.A. County, state of California and nationally by storm. [photo as she hears Governor Deukmejian's words.] She is, and I have lived myself in Long Beach since 1958, and I know that she has been not only the most popular Mayor in Long Beach, she's been the most effective Mayor that we've ever had in Long Beach. [applause]
And she has established this community in the minds of many opinion-makers, many leaders throughout the country, they have been drawn to Long Beach and they have found out about Long Beach as a result of Beverly's leadership and her activities at the state and federal level.
So we are very, very proud of her, we are so pleased that she is also endorsing Frank is this election, and I'm delighted to be able to present her to you now, our wonderful Mayor, Beverly O'Neill. [applause, cheers]
Mayor O'Neill: Wow! I'm glad I came! [laughter]...I'm thrilled to be here for many reasons. One reason is to let you know that the election isn't over 'till it's over, and it's not over.
...[W]e are here tonight...to celebrate Frank and what he is able to do and what he has done for the city. And the Governor said several things that I didn't know, but the things that he said demonstrated the same traits that I have seen in the last twelve years.
We kind of ran against each other twelve years ago, and people outside of this area didn't know him as well, but all of a sudden here was this rising star. Now I have to tell you, sometimes people run for office, they don't win and you never see 'em again...Not Frank.
Something that has been really outstanding about Frank is that twelve years ago he said, you know I would like to run for Mayor. When he didn't become Mayor, it seemed to strengthen him, and he came back in with vengeance on helping the city. He planned "Hot August Nights" all over the city. It's kind of like, "Who is he?"...Pretty soon, everyone knew who Frank was, and this was after he ran for office twelve years ago.
Since that time, everything that he has been responsible for, he doesn't just make a big splash in the pan and the kind of drift off and let somebody else do it. He does it himself. I have put him in as the representative for the Council of Governments for the city of Long Beach...He ends up being president of that group. I put him on ACTA, which is the Alameda Corridor group; he ended up being president of ACTA...I asked him to be the representative of the city on the [Mountains and Rivers] Conservancy; he ended up being president of this group too.
So everything that he becomes responsible for, he ends up leading. And that tells me something about someone that stays in a position and sees it through...
...I'm here to let you know that I am not voting against anybody, I'm voting for Frank.
And I just want you all to know that a few of you contacted me a long time ago and said "Why aren't you doing something for Frank yet?" And I said just "Never mind. The time is going to come when I'll make a decision and make an announcement." But I waited until the time when I felt that it would help the momentum.
I think the momentum has changed. I've heard that from several people in the election.
And I'm very pleased to be here tonight to introduce someone that I admire, that I appreciate, that understands good values, that's not afraid to work hard to make those happen: Frank Colonna. [applause]
Councilman Colonna: Thank you, Mayor, and thank you, Governor. It sort of takes your breath away when you're in the company of the two most significant citizens that our city has ever produced, and I have to tell you that in all honesty and sincerity, it's been a privilege to not only have known both you but also working together on various different things.
And of course with Beverly on the City Council, it's just been a real treasure because for me, I wouldn't be doing today what I'm here for if Beverly wasn't Mayor, because I really think that our city would have never gotten as far as it is today had it not been with our Mayor at the helm and I want to thank you for that. [applause]
...[M]y commitment is...to take where we're now and continue to move forward, and I shared some notes, and I saved a little note that the Mayor wrote to me, and I have it, it's on a post-it and it's in my calendar. And t says about continuity; it talks about continuing to move Long Beach forward; it talks about all the great things that our city is, and also what we can continue to be.
I come from the side of life where the sky isn't falling in. It's what is good for us and where do we go from here. And so many of you in your own way work very hard in your businesses, taking care of your families, but I think one of the things that's the most underlying strength of why we're all here is because you care as deeply about our city as I do, and as the Mayor and the Governor do.
And that is important because that makes our commitment even stronger to work harder to make Long Beach even better. And I promise I'm not going to make a big long stump speech, we've been having like 28 debates and I have to tell you, and it's really an honor...to be representing our city running for Mayor, a privilege, and I distinguish myself I believe from the other candidates.
Because Long Beach is home for me. I'm home grown, delivered the papers here, worked in our restaurants, have my family here, first [from] Italy, then Chicago and then Long Beach...
...I am committed to not let you guys down, because this is home for me. We're going to continue to make Long Beach a safe city, but we're going to make it even safer. We're going to make sure because the world has changed and we know that, that our responsibilities are significantly different than they were a few years ago.
Someone asked me at one of the debates, what was what you think was the single most successful thing that you feel you either accomplished or that you were involved with. And I stood up and I said without any hesitation, it was making sure that Community Hospital would still remained a hospital...[applause]
And as the Mayor said, the work isn't done. June 6th is right around the corner. If you promise me one thing when you leave today, that you talk to ten people and you ask them 'please vote for Frank.'
Because it's going to be a close election, and we overcame a blizzard of money the last time and we succeeded in getting in the runoff.
Now it's like cleaning off a chalkboard, everything is all a new beginning.
So I want to thank you all for hanging with me, for believing in me and I promise you, I will not let you down and I won't let Long Beach down. [applause, cheers]
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After his remarks to the crowd, we followed-up with Governor Deukmejian. "Some people say [Foster] had 48% of the vote [in April] and the election's over, it's done. You've run in a few elections. What have they got wrong?" we asked.
"Well it isn't over," Gov. Deukmejian replied politely, adding with a smile, "I went through a race for Governor in which I was trailing in the polls throughout the entire campaign. And a week before the election, I was still behind in the polling. And on election night, some of the TV broadcasters came on and actually predicted that my opponent had won. When all the votes were counted however, I won, and so I think it's a good example that nothing is over until all the votes are actually counted."
Among Colonna's supporters at the event, prominent LB attorney Samuel A. "Skip" Keesal, Jr.
Also attending, another prominent LB lawyer, Vern Schooley (chatting with Gov. Deukmejian, who was a LB lawyer, state lawmaker and Attorney General before his election as Governor).
Redevelopment Board chair Tom Fields chats with LB developer Rob Bellvue.
Among Colonna's strongest supporters, restaurateur Christy Bono...who cited Colonna's work with her father, Cong. Sonny Bono.
Reaction from some supporters in the room:
Retired Councilman Jerry Shultz: "I'm voting for Frank because he's homegrown, he's one of us. He's not an outsider. He's not funded by organizations outside of our city..."
Annie Greenfeld-Wisner, grassroots South Wrigley area activist, co-founder of "Better Balance for Long Beach" [affiliation for identification only]:
"I'm supporting Frank because we know who he is and where he's going."
NLB neighborhood activists Laurie Angel:
"[I'm supporting Frank because] he seems to be a very fair human being. I believe he'll do the right thing for the city. I think he has our best interests at heart. I don't think he has outside interests that are going to compete with doing a good job in promoting Long Beach and I think he's really going to look out for the community."
Former 5th district Council candidate Ed Barwick:
"I support Frank because he's devoted his life to the city of Long Beach and that's what he wants to work for the city, and his support comes from the city and not outside support. I think that's important."
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