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    Espinoza Won't Seek 9th District Council Seat, Endorses Val Lerch

    Term limited Councilman Shultz calls news conference Jan. 15 for "important announcement" re 9th dist. Council election

    (January 12, 2002) -- In a political stunner, Edward Espinoza, a Democrat political operative who pulled candidate papers to explore a bid for NLB's 9th district City Council seat, has withdrawn from the race and endorsed veteran community activist Val Lerch for the seat.

    In a written release he entitled "Democrats Unite in 9th district," Mr. Espinoza said he and Mr. Lerch met to discuss issues and reached agreements on matters ranging from city contracts, local beautification, park space, business development and a proposed youth commission.

    "We met and found that we have a lot in common," said Mr. Lerch. "We both believe in City contracts that are fair to workers and promote a safe workplace, attracting new business to the area, and the formation of a Youth Commission. With my experience and history of local involvement, we were able to reach a quick agreement."

    Mr. Espinoza said: "Valís commitment to these issues makes me very comfortable with this decision. Based on the support heís outlined, Val Lerch will be a good councilman for North Long Beach."

    At the January 8 City Council meeting, Mr. Lerch was among LB community activists urging the City Council to budget a higher level of police officers of LB taxpayers.

    In addition to Mr. Lerch, Ms. Martha Sims has filed papers seeking the 9th district NLB Council seat.

    Two term incumbent Councilman Jerry Shultz, who is barred under term limits from having his name printed on the ballot, but who is allowed under term limits to seek a third term as a write-in candidate, has called a news conference for Tuesday, January 15 "for the purpose of an important announcement regarding the upcoming Ninth District City Council election."

    In June, 2001, Councilman Shultz told he was "seriously considering" a third-term write-in candidacy in 2002. Shultz said at the time that he "would step aside if a candidate he deems well-qualified enters the race."

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