Above, from left to right: Stacy Mungo, John Osborn, Corliss Lee and Rich Dines.
In anticipation of the citywide election on Tuesday, April 10, the Post sent out questions to the City Council candidates from each district with seats up for election (districts three, five and seven). In Part II of Getting to Know your candidates, the Post finds out where the candidates stand on issues affecting the Fifth District.
Note: The Post only received responses from candidates Stacy Mungo and John Osborn. Candidates Corliss Lee and Rich Dines declined to respond. The following responses have been lightly edited for formatting and clarity.
Long Beach Post: What made you want to run for city council?
Stacy Mungo: I’m a Long Beach native with a passion for public service. I got involved early on when I was elected as the student member to the LBUSD Board, and went on to get a degree in political science from Cal State Fullerton and a Masters in Public Administration from USC.
Having volunteered with many community groups, in 2014, my neighbors encouraged me to run for the Long Beach City Council, and after a hard-fought campaign, I was elected that June. Since then, I have worked to get things done by forging consensus with my colleagues on a variety of issues. I am proud to Chair the Council’s Budget Oversight Committee and the Economic Development and Finance Committee, and am also a member of the State Legislation Committee.
I’m running for re-election to continue the work we’ve started in making Long Beach more business friendly and rebuilding our infrastructure. I’m also running to meet the challenges of housing and services to address our homeless issue. I am all in for Long Beach—my husband and I continue to build our life here, my family still lives here, I’m involved in our local nonprofits and neighborhood associations, and I have the energy and drive to make it the best that it can be.
John Osborn: I don’t hear my own voice and that of my neighbor’s reflected, most especially as it relates to spending. We are all squarely behind the need for our public safety departments.
Not a single person I’ve spoken with questions the need and the conversation continues to develop as population numbers climb. Infrastructure maintenance is woefully short. Measure A funding doesn’t begin to address the backlog of maintenance.
Measure A was sold to us as a means to address infrastructure and getting our public safety staffing levels back to where they were just a few years ago, however, council is now addressing budget shortcomings and may be looking at reallocating funds from Measure A to close deficits; not a good proposition.
LBP: What is the biggest issue facing your district and how do you intend to address it if elected?
Mungo: The 5th District is all about quality-of-life issues. Our streets, sidewalks and trees were all neglected for years and our business districts have needed revitalization. I’m proud to say that we’ve made more progress on these issues than ever before since I was elected four years ago, but there’s more work to do and here are my top three priorities:
Attracting more businesses so that we can create good paying local jobs and grow our local
Rebuilding our infrastructure—because of my budget efforts, we’ve been able to trim more trees, fill more potholes, repair more streets and sidewalks, and remove more tree stumps than ever before and I will continue that pace. I will work to make sure our investments are spent on the things that need improvement most, while benefiting all sectors of our community.
Homelessness—I will partner with the County and nonprofits to address the growing homeless population and get them into shelters with services in the short-term, and into housing in the long-term.
Osborn: Out-of-control spending. At nearly every council meeting there are items on the agenda and most frequently the consent calendar that allocate hundreds of thousands of dollars in new spending.
Most of these items go unnoticed by the electorate and without opposition from council. They remind me of trailers inserted into bills passed by the legislature. I want to be that person that objects and questions the necessity of these types of actions.
A few weeks ago $450,000 was allocated for privately-owned commercial properties along three business corridors with additional dialogue from council that CDBG funding may add to the available pool of funds.
How about we hold our property owners to the same standards we hold residential owners and use our existing code enforcement process if they fall into disrepair. An additional $325,000 attached to the LUE resolution for planning and development; again silence from council.
LBP: What do you think uniquely qualifies you to represent your district as a council person?
Mungo: This is my passion, my home, where I want to raise my family and live the rest of my life and we’re all in for Long Beach.
I didn’t grow up with much, but I worked hard and worked well with others and that has been the recipe of success that I’ve brought to my work on City Council. I’ve worked hard to preserve our neighborhoods, keep us safe, create new jobs and repair our aging infrastructure.
My ability to work with my colleagues and my extensive budget experience has resulted in more money flowing to the 5th District, resulting in more services and repairs than ever before and I have the unique ability to keep that going.
A lot of people talk about what they want to do, but talk isn’t enough for me—I get in there, roll my sleeves up and get things done.
Osborn: I served my country and have been affiliated with the U.S. Army and National Guard system for 20 years. I currently operate two successful businesses with my business partner/wife: Alamitos Eye Care and AJP Real Estate.
I am responsible for staffing, revenue, taxes, inventory control, facilities and all the business requirements that go into it. NO other candidate for CD5 has these qualifications. I raise and spend my own money and take credit for the employment of others directly.
I am not taking credit for being part of a commission or council that performs actions as an elected or appointed body. I don’t get the benefit of being employed by a governmental body and draw a salary and benefits package that is better than what most self-employed people get.
I have no protections like representation and an HR Department but we have to follow the same myriad laws and employment regulations that the big guys do.
Do any of the other candidates have any experience with the Board of Equalization or Franchise Board; have to secure professional licenses and renewals; file quarterly tax statements; maintain professional liability insurances; keep a CPA and attorney on short leashes to help navigate the business landscape; make payroll and escrow payroll tax obligations? How many of the others candidates even know what the MD and A is?
LBP: In the past four years, what policy steps do you think could have been executed differently and how would you have amended them?
Mungo: I really wished the council would have put a cannabis policy in place before voters felt the need to pass Measure MM, which took the issue completely away from council. As well-intended as that may have been, I think a good chunk of the population lost a voice and we could have better addressed some legitimate neighborhood concerns through balanced, fair regulation.
Osborn: The outreach for the LUE process wasn’t what it should have been. The email lists to maintain contact with the neighborhood organizations isn’t up to date and hasn’t been for a few years.
LBP: What do you support/not support about the land use element and how do you see it affecting the neighborhoods that you hope to represent?
Mungo: I’m proud to say that I fought against additional density in the 5th District and we were able to keep our commercial areas as strictly commercial, with a two-story height limit—no mixed use or additional residential.
As I said all along, yes we need to plan for future growth, but we need to put density where it makes sense—next to our major employment centers and transportation hubs.
The 5th District was developed primarily with one- and two-story single family homes as a suburb to the rest of Long Beach. Putting bigger, higher buildings in the 5th is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, it just doesn’t make good sense.
Osborn: I don’t think the LUE is a done deal. Many think the most recent council meeting on the LUE was the end to it but in actuality it wasn’t, it was just a step in the process.
The next step is the EIR which will take perhaps a year according to city staff. I wouldn’t take my eyes off the ball, so to speak, as land use and planning is a political football.
I foresee challenges but will not enumerate them here as I don’t want to give anyone any ideas about how to challenge the results, but I think it’s coming and council better be prepared.
The third-party reports laid a foundation to not only question and oppose the city’s findings but I believe lay the platform for future challenges as to the validity and legality of the desired outcome.
I am NOT in favor of increased density in CD5 whether its an up or out condition. Up in terms of building height and/or out as in increased density per acre.
LBP: How do you feel about the city’s efforts to combat homelessness? How is it affecting the Fifth District and what do you think can be done to improve conditions?
Mungo: Homelessness isn’t just a Long Beach problem, while here in Long Beach our coordinated outreach and re-homing program has seen results, the numbers are up across L.A. County and it’s clear that more needs to be done.
I’ve been in contact with L.A. County officials about the issue to make sure Long Beach receives an appropriate chunk of the voter-approved funding to address the short-term and long-term needs to get our homeless off the streets.
Our homeless need housing and services, and our residents need to feel safe in accessing and using our public facilities.
Osborn: Homelessness is a very complex issue and the reasons for it must be clearly understood.
It’s one thing to say let’s fix it and another thing to break it down and address the many reasons that contribute such as mental and drug issues, loss of income or reduction in income below the level of affordability of adequate shelter/housing.
I would prioritize resources to women and children first, homeless veterans second and address those who cannot provide for themselves as a state issue with local implications.
LBP: With the city facing projected budget shortfalls, if those prove to be true, what public services will you defend and which ones do you feel should be subject to trimming to balance the city budget?
Mungo: As Chair of our Budget Committee, I’ve taken proactive steps to ensure we curb spending before times get tough.
Over the last four years we have revised our fiscal policies and put money aside in our reserves. City staff have reported that the projected deficit of three years ago has already been eliminated without cutting services.
If we keep tightening our belts and using technology to become more effective, we will be able to live within our means.
Osborn: Public safety staffing reductions should NOT be on the table. How about we start with council and Mayor staff reductions.
I have other thoughts regarding revenue enhancement without raising taxes but you didn’t ask me to address that. If those prove to be true? We aren’t talking about hundreds of thousands here, were talking about millions of dollars in deficit.
The discussions will reveal who really represents their constituency.
LBP: How do you feel about the ongoing discussion about amending the city’s noise ordinance, and would you address the issue of late night/early morning flights out of Long Beach Airport?
Mungo: Ordinances are only as good as the ability to enforce them, and that’s the issue with our noise ordinance.
I’m working closely with the City Attorney’s Office to ensure that any amendments being considered maintain the protections and intent of the noise ordinance.
As for addressing flights outside the hours set by the community agreement. The key is balance.
Osborn: The airport isn’t going away. The good news is that according to the director of the airport it is at capacity so the level we have now should not increase.
We need to hold the tenant activities to the current standard.
LBP: Rent control may be on the ballot this year, and the only mayoral candidate challenging Mayor Garcia has a pro-rent control platform. Could rent control work in Long Beach, if not, how do you propose stabilizing housing costs to slow the displacement of residents who are being priced out of the city?
Mungo: I don’t support rent control for the same reason the vast majority of economists don’t—it just doesn’t work.
It discourages investment in multi-family housing, and can result in units being taken offline, which decreases the overall stock.
Just look at the cities of New York, San Francisco, Santa Monica and Los Angeles, which have rent control—housing growth is at an all-time low and gentrification is displacing rent control units.
Osborn: I am not in favor of rent control as the practice has shown that it results in reduced inventory of housing. I am open to further study of the issue.
As Long Beach is becoming a destination city due to the success of its renaissance it’s an issue that we inevitably have to address but NOT at the expense of those already here.