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    8th Dist. Council Candidates in First Forum

    (February 27, 2004) -- 8th district Council incumbent Rob Webb and challengers Rae Gabelich and Terry Jensen participated in the first candidate forum approaching the April 13 City Council election,..which took place at the Carmelitos Housing Project (Orange Ave. north of Del Amo) on Feb. 23.

    The event, sponsored by the Carmelitos Tenants Association, drew roughly thirty people. Here are some excerpts. The candidates are presented in the order in which they spoke, which was decided by drawing.

    Webb, Feb 23/04Councilman Rob Webb: ...We've got a lot of good things done for the district and it's fun to come out and drive up and down Long Beach Blvd. and Atlantic Ave. and see some of the work that's happening, starting with right out front here, 52d and Atlantic...and the new Jack in the Box that's moving in. That's been a lot of work for a long time...This last Saturday we broke ground on a new mini park at Market and Dairy...In the next couple of months, we're going to have the groundbreaking for our new police substation which is right here across the street at Scherer Park. We also have a new park that will be opening up, we'll have a groundbreaking in the next couple of months, at Plymouth and Elm...

    ...We have programs in place, I've been working with our Redevelopment Agency for the last couple of years, and we're finally getting things moving with North Long Beach redevelopment...

    Jensen, Feb 23/04Terry Jensen: ...I want to tell you a little bit about me and why I'm doing this, and then you'll understand how I came to the decision of running for the 8th district Council and leaving the private sector.

    I've been a resident of Long Beach since I was four years old...I've attended public schools in Long Beach, Hughes, Los Cerritos, Poly High School, Long Beach City College and Long Beach State College...Once I got through school, I ended up as a vice president of the real estate investment company in Los Angeles, in charge of southern California, in charge of the shopping centers, the office buildings, acquiring them, managing them, hiring managers and doing the asset management...All the tools and me a lot of experience to do the work that a City Councilman does.

    Once I left that firm I started my own company and I've been a real estate consultant ever since. I do business plans, I do budgets, I do asset management, project management, construction management. I fix troubled properties. I fix broken things. I enjoy fixing things that are broken.

    The City of Long Beach is broken. The City of Long Beach needs help.

    I was recovering from surgery about a year and a half ago and spending a great deal of time watching the City Council meetings on television, reading all of the newspapers, the Long Beach Report, the Business Journal, the Press-Telegram, the Beachcomber, the View...and the more I learned, the more disturbed I got.

    And I'm here today to tell you if I had thought the City of Long Beach was being well represented in the 8th district, I would not be running for City Council. I would not leave private industry...

    ...[I]f you wonder why the streets aren't fixed and the curbs aren't fixed, it's because the City Council since 1991 has been spending more money than they've been taking in. Now if we'd do that, we'd go broke! But the city does it, and it's OK, it's "not our fault, it's the state's fault, it's somebody else's fault."

    Well somebody has to take responsibility for that, and I decided that it has to be the City Council because they're the ones who vote on all of these issues, and they're not doing a very good job of it...

    ...I evaluated three neighborhoods before I decided to run...and I went through the westside, I went through the central district and North Long Beach...Those three neighborhoods I just mentioned are worse now than they were in 1962, and that's unconscionable. They've been ignored, and they're ignored because the people that live north of Del Amo don't vote, so the politicians never come up here. They don't think they need to do anything up here because you don't vote.

    Well, that's going to change. We've started a voter registration drive north of Del Amo, called the Committee of 3,000...Whether I win this election or not, we're going to get 3,000 [inaudible] north of Del Amo to register and vote, and when they do, you can take control of North Long Beach again. This won't happen ever again if everybody gets out and votes...

    ...As long as they can tap Redevelopment money, they don't have to start working with the budget. They don't have to get efficient. They can keep wasting money and making short term fixed and doing everything that they have been doing since 1991.

    They sit downtown and they act like it was a surprise that we're $110 million in deficit. Ladies and gentlemen, it was not a surprise. They've known it, and every city manager since 1991 has told them that, but they don't do anything about it.

    Now whether you vote for me or you vote for Rae Gabelich, you have to make a change in the 8th district and you have to make a change in the City of Long Beach. Because if you don't, the City of Long Beach is at a crossroads: we can either get better or we can get worse, and with the present administration, we will only get worse. We had four years of inactivity, we're going to have four more years of inactivity. We can't allow that to happen and that's why I'm running.

    Gabelich Feb 23/04Rae Gabelich: ...I have lived in Long Beach for 37 years and I've lived in an area called Sleepy Hollow...for 27 years...

    I have been very involved in the community for the last twenty years. I have a twenty one year old son. I served on the Board of Health and Human Services for two years. I served on the Recreation Commission for eight years. I was involved with an organization called the Foundation for Children's Health Care, and we were a fundraising arm for the Children's Clinic that resides in the basement Memorial Hospital and serves over 60,000 children at no charge a year.

    And that led to other opportunities within the school system. I have a son that's in special education, and we know education always needs every bit of help that we can give it, and so that was my honor to create a group called Parents for Change and we were able to create new programs for our kids that fell between the cracks.

    I too came to this position because I've been very, very involved with an organization called LBHUSH2. I actually was one of the founders and the president of LBHUSH2 until just recently when I decided to an organization that is trying to educate the community and control expansion of the Long Beach airport so that we protect the health of our citizens and our children and maintain a good, strong community.

    If the airport is allowed to develop beyond the point of where it is today, hopefully not, then we'll be looking at a neighborhood that will change seriously and I don't want to see that happen in my lifetime.

    So, that brought me to this position. I said, OK, I know that the bottom line is everything that is of any consequence in the city goes back to the Council for a vote...I believe that my mantra through this campaigning will be "neighborhoods first." That's what it has to be. It can't be one development after another.

    I'm not a politician and I'm not a developer. I'm a resident of the community and I want to see us maintain a health, viable, way of life and certainly work on creating safe environments for the neighborhoods that have been ignored for so long...

    ...[During Q & A]

    Mr. Jensen: ...The incumbent cut his budget 2% this year. They're asking everybody to take a pay cut a heck of a lot more than 2%. He had a whopping 2% off of his. Had the highest expenditure of any City Councilman for lunches, highest by 100%....And if you want to look at the travel budget, it is higher than anybody else's on the Council.

    That's not showing leadership. That's not exhibiting good judgment. And that's not leading by example, and that's what we have to do...

    Councilman Webb: ...Some of the statements that I've heard tonight are just flat wrong. I tell you, I've spent in lunches, lunches, I think I spent an average of about $300 a year for the last four years...

    ...When I reduced my budget by 2% I also spent $50,000 less than other districts in this city on an annual basis. Not each Council district is the same, and I have been one of the least expensive Council districts, so I see how you're going to play this game in the next few months. This is going to be fun.

    It's easy to be on the outside after not being involved in your community for all these years to come in and criticize. I can tell you that it's not being the incumbent some time, because if you elect any one of these people, in four years we're going to still have problems.

    It takes somebody that's going to roll up their sleeves and be part of the solution, and I have been doing that for twenty years, not throwing rocks from the outside.

    Ms. Gabelich: ...However this Council sits, next July we are going to be faced with serious, serious problems...So because of the decisions that have been made, because of inappropriate spending, and overspending, and new programs and maybe even taking, maybe there are programs in there, I'm sure there are a lot of programs, that are obsolete.

    But we need to go through and we need to do, I believe, an outside audit would be a good expenditure of money. I believe that we need why are we so far in debt, how did we get here.

    I think that there are many people that are in-house that are afraid to ask those questions...And I'm not afraid to ask the question...

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