Veteran LB Journalist/Q Voice News Founder/Publisher Phillip Zonkel Opines State Senate Candidate Lena Gonzalez Has Shown "Poor Leadership On LGBTQ Issues"; Gonzalez Supporter Cory Allen Responds is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(Mar. 24, 2019, 5:55 p.m.) -- In a March 22 editorial titled "Lena Gonzalez -- Long Beach Councilwoman, candidate Senate District 33 -- poor leadership on LGBTQ issues," Long Beach-based Q Voice News ("online daily coverage of Long Beach, greater Los Angeles and Southern California's LGBTQ community") writes that candidate Gonzalez "has called herself 'the biggest ally possible for the LGBT community, but we call BS."

The Q Voice News editorial, published four days ahead of the March 26 special election, is bylined to Q Voice News founder/publisher Phillip Zonkel (veteran journalist, former PT reporter, pioneered its "Out in the 562" column.) Mr. Zonkel wrote in his Q Voice News editorial that Councilwoman Gonzalez doesn't have a strategic plan to reduce HIV infections (despite LB's second highest HIV concentration in zip code 90813 within her Council district), didn't seek an LBPD report after a court struck down LBPD's now-former practice of targeting/arresting men for alleged lewd conduct in public bathrooms, didn't fight to reinstate an LGBTQ Police Advisory Committee (erased by previous Council budget cuts), didn't attend the Dec. 2018 World Aids Day candlelight vigil at Bluff Park (attended the overlapping Belmont Shore's Christmas Parade about two miles away) and, he charged, is "abandoning her district."

"Instead of finishing the four years she has left on her term as a councilwoman -- which voters elected her to do -- Gonzalez has decided to abandon the district. She wants to ensconce herself in a full-time public job and all the benefits (health insurance, pension) and financial perks it will provide her," adding "Residents deserve better than this," the Q Voice News editorial concluded.

Mr. Zonkel told that he wrote the piece because he viewed candidate Gonzalez's self-description as "another example of public servants using the gay community when it serves them, but [showing] poor leadership the rest of the time. We don't use those terms lightly. The article cites times when she could have shown strong leadership, but failed."

Neither candidate Gonzalez nor her campaign responded to the editorial, but on March 23, a response surfaced on Facebook from Cory Allen, self-identifying in his response as an openly gay man, personal friend and former Gonzalez's City Hall staffer.

[Scroll down for further.]

Titled "Setting the Record 'Straight' Lena Gonzalez", Mr. Allen didn't deny the items enumerated in Mr. Zonkel's editorial but downplayed them and disputed the editorial's conclusion.

Mr. Allen wrote that "every LGBTQ organization that has made an endorsement in this race and an overwhelming majority of LGBTQ elected leaders throughout the state have endorsed Lena Gonzalez for Senate [because] she has a record to stand on." He said Gonzalez "is 1 of only 4 Councilmembers in LB history to hire an LGBTQ person as her Chief of Staff; recognized several LGBTQ organizations during Council meetings"; sought to include LGBTQ demographic information in the City's Diversity Hiring report; added questions about LGBTQ identity on City Homeless Count Surveys; authored items to ensure that LB's Health Department responds to local outbreaks and ongoing health issues like HIV/AIDS and STI infections and added LGBTQ advocacy to the City's State and Federal Legislative Agendas.

Mr. Allen added that Councilwoman Gonzalez had co-hosted and attended Transgender Day of Remembrance since its inception at Harvey Milk Park; sponsored, organized and attended all of the Harvey Milk Park Honor Wall Celebrations since their inception; was Grand Marshal of Long Beach Pride; hosted a GSA [gay-straight alliance] community fundraiser for its work in local high schools; is the only elected official regionally to be an active member of LB's Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and is "leading the way to incorporate LGBTQ certified business owners in the City’s procurement process and BID applications."



In a January 14, 2014 campaign release announcing her endorsement by state Senator Scott Wiener (D, SF) (who chairs the state Senate's Legislative LGBT Caucus), candidate Gonzalez stated: "I have always prided myself in being the biggest ally possible for the LGBT community. I thank the Senator for his endorsement and look forward to working with him. In his endorsement message, Senator Wiener said: "Lena Gonzalez will be a great addition to the California State Senate. As a member of the Long Beach City Council, Lena has led the way to streamline the processes for approval of new housing" and "is exactly the kind of person we need in the California State Senate and I look forward to calling her my colleague."


Sen. Wiener authored SB 827, which the LB City Council -- including Councilwoman Gonzalez -- voted to oppose (9-0, March 6, 2018). SB 827 stalled in a state Senate Committee and died. but Senator Wiener has reintroduced it with some tweaks as SB 50. Sen. Wiener's new bill would override local zoning to incentivize developers with "density bonuses" for multi-story low income residential buildings along "transit-rich" (within a half mile radius of a major transit stop or a quarter mile radius of a stop on a high-quality bus corridor) or in "jobs rich" neighborhoods (with "proximity to jobs, high area median income relative to the relevant region and high-quality public schools.") On Feb. 28, asked candidate Gonzalez for her position on SB 50; we've received no response.



LB's high-propensity voter gay community is within the 33rd state Senate district. Just days after state Senator Ricardo Lara was elected state Insurance Commissioner and freed up the state Senate seat, Councilwoman Gonzalez agendized a Nov. 20 City Council item to have LB's City Manager send a letter of opposition to President Trump, the Office for Civil Rights and the Department of Health and Human Services regarding their efforts to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX that excludes transgender people and also requested new language in the City's State and Federal Agendas that specifically supports transgender-inclusive policies on the state and federal level. The measure carried 9-0

Long Beach is the single largest city within the 33rd state Senate district.

Eleven active candidates (9 Dems, 2 Repubs, 1 Green) are on the March 26 special election ballot. If one of them finishes with 50%+1 of the votes cast, they're elected; if none win over 50%, the top two finishers proceed to a June 4 runoff.

Support really independent news in Long Beach. No one in our ownership or operations has ties to incumbent Long Beach officials, development interests, other special interests or stands to benefit from City development decisions or holds an appointed position on any City Commission, Committee or Task Force on whose policies we report. is reader and advertiser supported. Help keep independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) or your choice of a modest monthly sum helps keep us online.

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