Photo courtesy of Dee Andrews.
Current Sixth District Councilmember Dee Andrews, if elected to a third term, would be treading a rare path for a Long Beach politician.
Before him, just two Long Beach politicians in recent history have successfully made the cut as write-in candidates: former mayor Beverly O’Neill and former city councilmember/current Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell.
In 2005, Fifth District Councilmember Jackie Kell lost her write-in campaign, and years later, Seventh and Ninth District councilmembers Tonia Reyes Uranga and Val Lerch lost their shot at a write-in win.
Andrews is running against newcomers Josephine A. Villasenor, Erik Miller and Robert Harmon.
“I want to finish the things I started. I think my record speaks for itself,” said Andrews in an interview with the Post. “I think [the write-in campaign rule] is fair, as it lets us keep officeholders passionate about their job while giving new people a shot. I’m proud to run as a write-in candidate.”
Andrews’ platform revolves around three main pillars: public safety (including re-hiring police and fire personnel after many were laid off), infrastructure improvements and helping children succeed.
He said public safety and education go hand-in-hand, especially with nonviolent drug offenders returning to the neighborhood because of their release, due to Prop 47.
“There’s no denying crime has gone up,” said Andrews. All the more reason to rally the community to keep kids in school and after school programs, as well as work “one on one” with local businesses to encourage their hiring of released offenders, offering those with felonies on their records a second chance.
Andrews said he wants to help kids aspire for more than just becoming a “pro-basketball or football player, or rapper.”
“These kids have more opportunities than I had,” he said “I want to see that our system can help them, and that it gives them new hopes and dreams.”
Beautifying parks and roads in the Sixth District is another important focus for Andrews, going into the election. He cited his record of adding 25 acres of parks to the district as proof that he can help create more attractive streets, which he said is essential to capturing more foot traffic at area businesses, contributing to economic development.
Specifically, Andrews said he envisions a more attractive Anaheim corridor, where businesses already talk about how street improvements will create a “better life,” leading to “better signage” and increased profits.
Another important focus for him will be controlling rising rent prices.
“Most people in my district are making a maximum of $30,000 to $40,000 a year,” said Andrews. “Lots of people are working two to three jobs to make ends meet. Rent can’t keep going up at that pace.”
Andrews also sees providing services to the homelessness as an essential duty, if elected to another term. He touted his push to place a Mental Health America office on Long Beach Boulevard to cater to the mentally ill—many of whom are at risk of becoming or already are homeless.
He proudly discussed his support for the proposed sales tax increase, to be voted on by residents in the June primary, as a way to raise the funding for the hiring of additional public safety officers and infrastructure improvements.
“It’s gonna have to come from you,” said Andrews. “We need the tax revenue to take care of our roads and needs.”
For now, Andrews said he is doing what he can in his campaign, with the limits placed on write-in candidates.
“It’s a learning curve for all of us,” he said, stating that if all else fails, at least he has name recognition.
In justifying his efforts, he repeated his earlier mantra: “It’s the last time I can run, and I want to finish the job.”
Among his public endorsements, Andrews counts: the Long Beach Police Officers Association, and the Long Beach Firefighters Association.