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Sunset at a marina with water in the foreground and small personal boats in the background.
Sunset in Long Beach
(Screenshot, City of Long Beach web site)
Long Beach Mayor
Suzie Price and Rex Richardson are running to be Long Beach’s next mayor. They’re both city council members, but that’s where the similarities end.

Voters in Long Beach, L.A. County’s second largest city, are set to decide on November 8 who will be the mayor of the city of half a million residents.

One of the mayoral candidates, Rex Richardson, is a well-known African American with a long list of endorsements from elected officials. The other candidate, Suzie Price, has the endorsement from the police officer’s union.

The Long Beach mayor’s race is shining a spotlight on issues that are testing the city’s social fabric. The outcome will depend on which candidate can convince the most voters that he or she has the experience to solve the problems.

What Can The Mayor Do?

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Head to LAist's Voter Game Plan for guides to the rest of your ballot including:

No matter how much the winner wants to do, Long Beach’s mayor has some major limitations. They cannot hire and fire department heads. They do not develop and propose a yearly budget. Both of those big duties belong to the city manager, appointed by the city council.

But the mayor does hold veto power over city council actions. And that’s made previous mayors influential despite the limits.

What's On The Agenda For Next Term?

The Economy: Finding funding to solve Long Beach’s problems will be key. A century ago, it was the fastest-growing city in the country, but hasn't been able to duplicate the good times of the mid-20th century when shipping, tourism, and central downtown were booming.

“Our city has changed a lot in terms of just our economic base,” said Sharon Diggs-Jackson, interim director of Elite Skills Development, a Long Beach non-profit. She says Long Beach has gone "from military installations to having active car dealerships to being a tourist town.”

And the pandemic hurt city income from hotel occupancy, and the sales tax generated from retail businesses and restaurants.

“What is our stable economic base? How do we fund our city? How do we maintain the services and programs that are necessary?” said Diggs-Jackson.

Crime: Violent crime is down in Long Beach compared to five years ago, but property crime has risen compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Homelessness: According to the results of a count in 2022, the number of people experiencing homelessness jumped 62% between 2020 and 2022 — up to a total of about 3,300 people. That includes a major spike in people living in a vehicle.

Despite several eviction moratoriums that passed during the COVID-19 pandemic, an August 2021 CalMatters report found that the sheriff's department carried out more than 200 evictions in Long Beach over the previous year.

Climate: For low-lying coastal areas like Long Beach, a proactive approach to climate change might be the only option. A climate action plan adopted unanimously by the city council in August 2022 assumes that sea level will rise at least 11 inches by 2030, and that air pollution will get significantly worse. In 2024, city officials will have to decide whether to spend $60 million to upgrade the city's trash incinerator, a source of ongoing controversy.

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The Candidates

Both candidates for mayor say they have answers honed from serving on the city council for six years.

Suzie Price

Suzie Price is a prosecutor in Orange County and is endorsed by the Long Beach Police Officers’ Association, and the International Longshore Workers’ Union.

What she's running on:

  • The Economy: As part of a plan focused on a "holistic approach" to small business development, Price proposes redirecting a portion of local sales tax toward recruiting and retaining city businesses. She also wants to focus on growing the city's business improvement districts — she says that creating "safe, walkable, and attractive public serving areas" is the first step.
  • Crime: Price also says she’d grow the size of the police force, both by incentivizing new officers to join and senior officers to stay, while also engaging “young residents, and [prioritizing] police accountability and training.”
  • Homelessness: Price says she would grow “street outreach” to cut the number of people who are unhoused while she would create more “transitional home/service communities.”
  • Climate: Price doesn't list a specific climate plan on her campaign website, other than to note "she’ll ensure our beaches, air, and water are clean." But she did vote to approve the city's climate action plan.
Website: suzieprice4mayor.com
Endorsements: List of endorsements (campaign website)

Rex Richardson

Rex Richardson works for a real estate investment trust and is endorsed by four current council members and outgoing Mayor Robert Garcia.

What he's running on:

  • The Economy: Richardson says he would create a new deputy mayor position responsible for economic development, who would lead an advisory team that "will create ongoing strategies to modernize our infrastructure." He also wants to make a cultural preservation fund so that neighborhoods can benefit from "placemaking, healing, activism, and community building."
  • Crime: Richardson says he would hire more police officers while also improving schools, creating more stable jobs, and boosting social services.
  • Homelessness: Richardson says he would increase shelter capacity and transitional and permanent supportive housing, and would help increase housing in the city by tapping into state resources.
  • Climate: Richardson voted for the city's climate action plan, and his proposals echo that plan, such as increasing the availability of electric vehicle charging stations, creating dedicated bus lanes, and improving pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. He also wants to expand city parks, especially in the park-poor areas of North, West, and Central Long Beach.
Website: joinrexrichardson.com
Endorsements: List of endorsements (campaign website)

More Voter Guides

City of Los Angeles

L.A. County

  • Sheriff: Compare the two candidates for L.A. County sheriff
  • Water Agencies: Learn what they do and what to look for in a candidate

How to evaluate judges

California propositions

  • Propositions 26 and 27: The difference between the sports betting ballot measures
  • Proposition 29: Why kidney dialysis is on your ballot for the third time
  • Proposition 30: Why Lyft is the biggest funder of this ballot measure

Head to the Voter Game Plan homepage for guides to the rest of your ballot.

Photo credit
  • City of Long Beach at sunset (Courtesy City of Long Beach website)