A headshot of Dr. Joni Ricks-Oddie. Photo courtesy of the Ricks-Oddie campaign.

Long Beach’s 9th City Council district race didn’t remain candidateless for long after Dr. Joni Ricks-Oddie, a North Long Beach neighborhood advocate and city commissioner, announced she would run for the soon-to-be open City Council seat.

The seat has been held by Councilman Rex Richardson for the past eight years but Richardson announced Monday that he will run for mayor in 2022, which opened the seat. Richardson was the only declared candidate before he dropped out of the race.

Ricks-Oddie has lived in North Long Beach since 2012 and has served in a leadership role with the Deforest Park Neighborhood Association, working to draw more positive attention to the area and to get neighbors invested in improving it.

She holds a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from UCLA, serves as the chair of the city’s Planning Commission, which helps approve development projects in the city, and serves as the director of the UCI Center for Statistical Consulting, which works to develop new opportunities to improve public health.

In her announcement Wednesday, Ricks-Oddie said she will run to continue to revitalize North Long Beach, its business corridors and improve access to open space. Ricks-Oddie said she would advocate for a more equitable city and would focus the economic recovery, housing and homelessness, public health and safety.

“The challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presented in terms of health policy, community, outreach and the need for evidence-based decisions uniquely qualifies me as a the right candidate, given my public health background,” Ricks-Oddie said in a statement.

A candidate needs just over 50% of the vote to win in the primary election, which is scheduled for June 7. If no candidate passes the 50% threshold then the election heads to a runoff in November.

The deadline for candidates to declare for the race is March 11.

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