Long Beach Councilman Rex Richardson will become vice mayor for the second time in his six-year stint on the council after being selected by fellow members in a 5-4 vote Tuesday night.

The 37-year-old Richardson, who represents North Long Beach, previously served as vice mayor from 2016-2018 and will begin a second two-year stint as vice mayor going forward as the new City Council was sworn in Tuesday.

Richardson beat out council members Al Austin, Suzie Price and Stacy Mungo Flanigan who were also nominated by their colleagues Tuesday night. Austin and Price could not garner a majority of the council’s support while Mungo Flanigan did not have an opportunity for votes to be cast for her.

Richardson called for a move to unity after a year that was a challenging one for the council as it worked through the issues brought forward by the COVID-19 pandemic. Richardson asked the rest of the council to move into 2021 together and work toward common goals as the city tries to recover from the pandemic.

“This was our final election of the year and moving forward we should attempt to work together,” Richardson said. “No matter what side you were on this was the final election.”

Richardson was nominated by Councilwoman Mary Zendejas, who said she supported him because of his work with her over the past few months to ensure that communities were fed and that tenants and workers were protected during the economic shutdown.

“My choice is about my constituents are their needs,” Zendejas said. “My decision was made because i really have to look at what my constituents needs are and that’s why I’m happy to endorse Rex Richardson.”

Richardson was supported by newly-sworn in councilwomen Cindy Allen and Suely Saro, as well as Councilman Roberto Uranga, who rebuffed a nomination for himself.

While this will be Richardson’s second time around as vice mayor of the council, this experience has the opportunity to present a dramatically different experience.

As vice mayor Richardson could become the acting mayor if Mayor Robert Garcia were to leave office before his term ends in 2022. Garcia has been rumored to be in the running for a position in the President Joe Biden administration or possibly an appointment to the state Senate seat that is about to be vacated by Kamala Harris.

On Monday, Garcia added to that speculation when he announced that he would not pursue another term on the Los Angeles Metro Board of Directors, a position he lobbied for three years ago.

“I really love the work, but I have some other opportunities ahead that I would like to pursue,” Garcia said in his Dec. 10 letter announcing his intentions not to pursue another term.

[Editors note: The story has been updated to show that Councilwoman Stacy Mungo Flanigan did not have votes cast for her because Richardson was elected prior to her turn.]

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.