From The Backroom to the ballot box: How the Long Beach Post will cover politics and elections

A little over six months have passed since the national midterm elections and local approval of a quartet of Charter amendments, and a year has passed since the reelection of Mayor Robert Garcia, five councilmembers and three citywide officeholders. Yet, we’re already entering another election season.

In the months ahead, voters in Long Beach’s 1st Council District will select a new representative to complete the unexpired term of Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez after her successful ascension to the state Senate, with the first candidates announcing for the race within the last week.

In March 2020, residents in the four even-numbered council districts will choose their representatives, with candidates and incumbents already beginning to announce their runs and roll out endorsements nearly nine months before the primary election.

Next year includes two seats for the Long Beach Unified School District Board of Education, where long-time members, Felton Williams and Jon Meyer, have announced their retirements. 2020 also features an important election for the Long Beach Community College District Board of Trustees.

The March 2020 primary in Long Beach itself will be more important than ever. Aligned for the first time to the statewide primary, which is also now even earlier on the national primary schedule, California’s primary is suddenly thrust in an important spotlight. Turnout will hopefully be higher. Scrutiny by voters and media hopefully will be as well.

The avalanche of campaign and candidate information, announcements and endorsements, mailers and messages puts local media in a challenging position. Moreover, the Long Beach Post, as the most-read publication in Long Beach, is in a unique position, with unique responsibilities to readers and voters.

We have a duty to accurately and thoroughly cover candidates and contests, to be sure. But our duty in covering the election cycle is even more crucial because it directly assists the electorate in choosing their representatives. The Post, enviably, has more reporters and resources than any other newsroom in the city. That doesn’t mean, however, that we will report on every announcement or endorsement.

The centerpiece of our political and election coverage will be detailed, responsible analysis, using every resource and relationship at our disposal. Not every campaign press release will get its own story and not every story comes from a press release. But our coverage will be robust.

As election deadlines near and the field of candidates is set, readers can count on the Post to validate everything we possibly can about candidates, to perform background checks equally and equitably, to invite candidates to debates, to prepare candidate comparison tools, and to serve as a surrogate for voters.

Similarly, frontrunners can expect heightened scrutiny. Frontrunners are easy to identify: Political parties and organizations usually rally behind them, and they often lead in endorsements, fundraising, and support from independent expenditure committees.

To our readers and voters: You have the benefit of being able to access reporting and analysis from the Long Beach Post without blocks or limits. We have no paywall or limits on the number of articles you can read each month. We never have. We believe that part of our civic responsibility includes access to information for all, regardless of an individual’s ability to pay for trusted local news. Even though our journalism is available to all, you can still join the thousands of readers who are financially supporting the work of our newsroom. We’re grateful for your support.

To candidates: Get to know the Post’s reporters and editors. Get to know journalists in all of our local newsrooms, for that matter. Take calls from the newsroom; come meet with the editors. Share your platform, priorities and positions. Building a relationship with the media is something we welcome and something that’s a great benefit to the community and constituents.

Starting this Thursday, you will see something new from the journalists of the Post: A weekly political column called The Backroom. It will serve as a place for political news that’s not necessarily enough for a standalone story, but still interesting and noteworthy. We won’t take cheap shots or publish unsubstantiated gossip, but we will share information about candidates announcing their intent to run for office, endorsements, interesting news from City Council and city hall, and events and other interactions.

We’ll work to follow the money, talk to experts and political veterans, to explain how things work, and to shine a light in the backroom of politics.

News and tips can be sent to [email protected].

As we move into another election season, be assured it won’t be politics as usual from the Long Beach Post.

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.

David Sommers is publisher of the Long Beach Post. As the publication’s top leader, he is responsible for everything from editorial and advertising to technical and corporate operations. On any given day, you can find him meeting with advertisers, schmoozing with city leaders and poring over tough news decisions. He’s also responsible for fixing the copy machine, setting up officer furniture and keeping the newsroom well-stocked with paper towels and coffee pods.