VIDEO: District 2 candidates debate police reform, systemic racism, economic stimulation and more

District 2 city council candidates Cindy Allen and Robert Fox faced off Monday night during a debate hosted by local media outlets.

Allen opened the debate by recounting her life growing up in Long Beach. She said she “lifted herself out of poverty,” working up the social ladder until ultimately operating several businesses in the city.

Fox recounted his time in the city, highlighting the numerous grassroots reform efforts he has spearheaded over the last three decades.

Police reform was one of the major issues of the night, especially with Allen being a former Long Beach police officer. Both candidates agreed the Citizen Police Complaint Commission needs an overhaul with more transparency and actual oversight of the city’s police department.

“There is not a person who can better lead this reform than me,” Allen said.

Fox said he would push to reallocate police funding for mental health professionals and homeless services. He also questioned the amount of training officers receive.

The debate became contentious when accusations regarding an officer-involved shooting Allen was involved with in the 1990s came up. Allen defended herself, stating the suspect in question had guns in his vehicle, and was victimizing a woman. Fox, in turn, repeated the account laid out by Beachcomber reporter Stephen Downing that the suspect did not have a weapon on him.

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Allen and Fox agreed that systemic racism exists in the city and needs to be addressed, earnestly. Both said the issue is most prevalent in the police and justice systems, with Fox citing data that shows police pull over people of color at a higher rate than White people.

“White people need to listen more,” Allen said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The two candidates shared similar views related to economic recovery, particularly when it comes to city fees paid by business owners. Both Fox and Allen said licensing fees should be waived or reduced.

“I want to be the small business capital of the state of California,” Fox said. “I want to give our businesses a break.”

Allen noted that businesses are struggling now more than ever. She applauded the city’s open streets program for restaurants but said officials need to peel back more red tape. Business fees should be adjusted depending on the size of the business, Allen added.

Speaking about housing, Allen said she would support rent control measures as a way to keep people in their homes. Fox, a property owner, has been a vocal opponent to rent control for years. He argued that supply and demand should be left to dictate the market.

Long Beach Post Senior Reporter Kelly Puente, left, and Grunion Gazette Executive Editor Harry Saltzgaver moderated the Second District debate, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Grunion Gazette Executive Editor Harry Saltzgaver and Long Beach Post Senior Reporter Kelly Puente moderated the debate.

The Post, Press-Telegram, Grunion and Long Beach Business Journal partnered to present this and other socially distanced, virtual debates, including the 6th and 8th District Council seats later this week, and the Long Beach Unified Board of Education and Long beach Community College District Board of Trustees seats next week.

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Brandon Richardson is a business reporter, covering everything from real estate and healthcare to the airport and port to city hall and the economy. He is a Long Beach native who has been with the Business Journal since graduating from Long Beach City College in spring 2016 with an associate’s degree in journalism. He is an avid record collector and concert goer.