Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia will continue an on-again-off-again tradition of mayors past when he presents his first Keys to the City to three community members at next week’s city council meeting.
Garcia announced Monday he will be honoring former Governor George Deukmejian and his wife, Gloria Deukmejian, along with civil rights icon Bobbie Smith with the newly-designed keys, created by local artists, in a ceremony at 5:00PM on December 8 in city council chambers.
“These long-time members of the Long Beach community have made outstanding contributions to our city and our state,” said Garcia in a statement. “They deserve the highest recognition we can bestow, and I’m extremely proud to be able to honor them with keys to the city.”
According to the mayor’s staff, keys have been presented by past mayors at their own discretion at various points in the year to specific individuals. In one such instance, former Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster presented the Keys to the City to the founders of Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride (LBLGP) in 2013.
While there is no concrete schedule in place for future key presentations, the mayor’s Deputy Chief of Staff Daniel Brezenoff said additional people will be honored in key ceremonies in the years to come.
According to the release, the Mayor chose the Deukmejians and Smith for their unique contributions to the city.
George Deukmejian, the former governor, was born in New York, but opening his legal practice in Long Beach after graduating from law school and serving in the army. He entered the state’s political realm shortly after and was elected to governor in 1983, after serving in various state positions, including as majority leader of the State Senate (in ‘69) and as attorney general in 1978. From 1983 to 1991, Deukmejian served as governor, increasing the state’s general fund by 98 percent without raising taxes and counting the largest victory margin ever in California during his reelection campaign.
Gloria Deukmejian, the former first lady of California, is a Long Beach native and philanthropist. In addition to raising the couple’s three children, she served as a volunteer with various community programs throughout Long Beach, including the PTA, Girl Scouts, Campfire, Jonathan Jacques Children’s Cancer Center, St. Mary Hospital and the Assistance League in Long Beach and Sacramento. To this day, she remains active, volunteering with Cal State Long Beach Disabled Student Services program, the Long Beach Day Nursery “Stepping Stones to Success” program, the St. Mary Hospital Board of Trustees and the Rancho Los Alamitos Foundation Board.
Bobbie Smith was the first African-American to serve on the Long Beach Unified District Board of Education, upon her election in 1966, going on to serve as president of the board while working as a Long Beach City College librarian for more than 20 years. She continues to serve her community and advocate for civil rights and equality. The LBUSD Board renamed Burnett Elementary School after her last year, in her honor. The school’s new name is Bobbie Smith Elementary School.