Newly elected Vice Mayor Rex Richardson speaking at Jordan High School last year to honor graduates moving onto college. Photo by Jason Ruiz.
Ninth District Councilman Rex Richardson continued his historic political arc last night, after his colleagues voted him into the recently vacated vice mayor position, making him the youngest and first African-American male to assume that role in the history of Long Beach.
Two years ago, a then 30-year-old Richardson made history when he became the youngest person in the history of the city to win a Long Beach City Council seat, as he took over the reigns in the Ninth District. With his win, he replaced his mentor, former councilman Steven Neal.
The 5-4 vote will have Richardson serve out the rest of his first term on the council as the vice mayor, an opportunity that opened up when former Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal retired last week.
“I just want to say what an honor it is and a vote of confidence from my colleagues,” Richardson said after being elected the city’s newest vice mayor. “I have to say this is one vote of many; there are many things we need to take on as a city and I hope that moving forward we can really continue to demonstrate what we’ve demonstrated in the last few years, that we’re cohesive, that we lead, we’re interested in taking on the tough issues and we can move on from petty differences for the greater good of our city.”
Sixth District Councilman Dee Andrews, the most tenured member of the council, was also nominated for the position, but never had a chance for his name to be voted on, due to Richardson securing the required five votes in the first round.
Andrews was nominated by Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price, who said that given his the amount of years he’s spent serving the city, he deserved the opportunity to spend the next two years with the vice mayor’s responsibilities. Richardson was nominated by First District Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, who lauded him for his work in activating North Long Beach.
“I was proud to nominate my friend and colleague, Rex Richardson for Vice Mayor,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “Rex has done an outstanding job turning North Long Beach into one of the most active areas in the our city and has been a strong voice for working men and women in this city. I am looking forward to working alongside him to continue to move Long Beach forward.”
Gonzalez was joined by Richardson and councilmembers Jeannine Pearce, Stacy Mungo and Roberto Uranga in putting Richardson over the five-vote threshold to win.
Richardson has been a huge advocate for both his district and the city as a whole, helping pursue the “Uptown Renaissance,” and pushing for inclusive and equitable items like the My Brothers Keeper initiative, the PATH program aimed at providing second chances and employment opportunity for youths and participatory budgeting programs to better engage the community.
In a Facebook post, Richardson wrote that he was hopeful of his being voted vice mayor can serve as an inspiration to the rest of the community to reach higher and to achieve their dreams.
“I accept this as a recognition of our entire community’s progress since taking office two years ago,” Richardson said. “I look forward to working with Mayor Garcia and the City Council as we continue to build Long Beach for everyone.”
[Editor's note: The original version of this story stated that Eighth District Councilman Al Austin was nominated but declined. In fact, he was slated to speak, but declined that option.]