The outgoing councilmember in one of Long Beach’s most politically important districts has endorsed Damon Dunn for mayor, Dunn’s campaign announced Wednesday morning. 

3rd District Councilmember Gary DeLong originally appeared as though he would endorse Dunn’s opponent, fellow councilmember Robert Garcia, after DeLong’s company donated $5000 in January to an independent expenditure committee supporting Garcia. However, in a statement, DeLong said that after watching both campaigns develop over the last six months, he believes that Dunn has a better understanding of economic development and balancing budgets, skills DeLong–who chairs the Budget Oversight Committee–believes are necessary to lead Long Beach into the future. 

Touting Dunn’s private-sector experience and what he called “strength of character,” DeLong also said Dunn will avoid entanglements and serve the public. 

DeLong told the Orange County Register he was initially not intending to make any endorsement this race, but was compelled to after speaking with former mayor Beverly O’Neill, who endorsed Dunn earlier this month. 

“Mayor O’Neill talked about how she intended to stay on the sidelines and not get involved, but then realized that her love for Long Beach was stronger than her desire to stay out of the limelight,” DeLong said. “I knew then I needed to make the same commitment to Long Beach. It’s my responsibility now to publicly support the individual who I believe will make the best mayor.”

DeLong’s endorsement comes just a few weeks after another councilmember, 5th District’s Gerrie Schipske, announced her support for the NFL-player-turned-real-estate-developer. In the primary election in April, Dunn won over Garcia in the conservative 5th and 3rd districts, where the number of registered voters far exceeds that in the rest of the city.

According to City Clerk records, nearly 45% of all votes cast for mayor in April’s election came from those two East Long Beach districts.

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