Talks with Tim is a weekly Q&A by Tim Grobaty, who has been a columnist in Long Beach for nearly 50 years. If you’d like to suggest an interesting or influential person in Long Beach for this (unconventional) interview, reach him at [email protected].
Megan Kerr was sworn into office in December 2022 as the council member representing the newly redrawn 5th District, which stretches from San Gabriel River in the easter part of the city, to the Los Angeles River in the west.Prior to winning that seat in 2022, she was elected to two terms on the Long Beach Unified School District’s School Board.
Tim Grobaty: Kick it off by asking yourself any question.
Megan Kerr: I’d ask me something about pets. In our house we have a litany of pets: rats, snakes, dogs, a foster cat; but we are dog people. Our best dog ever was Freda, named for Freda Kahlo. She had these weird eyebrows. We had her until she was 14. She was such a sweet dog. One day she went out to her favorite spot in the sun and just died. We started fostering a month after she died.
Q: I’d be lousy at fostering. I could never let a dog go once I had it.
A: It’s hard at first. When people picked up the first two my family fostered it broke our hearts. We cried and cried. Since then we’ve fostered upward of 150. Often they’re puppies, sometimes mothers and their babies. Our big dogs like the pups. We have Harley, who just turned 16; Jack is 7 and Bill is 6.
Q: I live in your district, way over on the eastern end of it, where most of the 5th has been before the redistricting. Now the district goes all the way over to include Bixby Knolls. I’m gonna tell you what my concern is with you: Since you grew up in Bixby Knolls and you still live there, I’m afraid you’re going to be Knolls-centric rather than giving us the coddling love that we’re used to when the 5th was all in the eastern part of town.
A: That won’t be the case. The district sprawls from river to river, the LA River to the San Gabriel and you have to actually leave the city to get from one end to the other because it’s divided by Long Beach Airport. But I’m very aware of the concerns that East Long Beach has. That’s why we’ve kept our field office in Wardlow Park.
And, while we’re far apart geographically, the two ends of the district are similar with mostly single-family homes with residents having the same concerns.
Q: One difference between East Long Beach and Bixby Knolls is the energy and engagement of the local residents. In the Knolls, everyone seems to be involved in the community, which likely comes from Blair Cohn [the executive director of the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement District]. While in the East we all hit the hay at 9:30.
A: I was talking to Blair, who has the Bixby Knolls Strollers, about doing something like the East Side Strollers, with organized walks or other ideas to energize the area.
Q: That’s gonna be hard. We don’t really “stroll” in my part of town. I used to live in Belmont Heights and I’d go for a walk at night and there were always things going on on Second Street and in the neighborhood. The first night my wife and I moved into our home in the Plaza I took a walk a little after dusk and no one was around. I don’t know if they go to sleep early, but they don’t really go out much unless it’s to Hof’s Hut or the Eldo. I think if you just keep the trees trimmed and the potholes filled we’d be out of your hair.
A: I drive through East Long Beach taking care of and responding to people’s concerns, so when someone talks to me about encampments or alleys I try to go see it in person because I know it’s concerning. I’ve met with people at Eco Coffee at Heartwell and the Coffee Bean on Spring and Los Coyotes, and I think the best way to find out people’s concerns is at the drop-off zones in front of schools. You can learn a lot there by talking and listening to parents.
Q: Turning rather alarmingly to sports, what’s your team?
A: We’re baseball people. Dodger fans. It runs in the family. My grandfather in New York had season tickets for the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field, then when the family moved out here my grandmother and my parents watched the Dodger games. Now we’re big Dirtbags fans.
Q: You’ve got good stats in running for elected offices. I think you’re 3-0?
A: Yes. I was elected to the LBUSD board in 2014 and won again unopposed in 2018 and then won in the council race in 2022.
Q: That one was pretty hard-fought, a lot of unpleasantness on social media.
A: I try not to look at what certain groups are saying about me. After the election I had someone approach me who said, “So glad you’re the one who won. I wanted to apologize, I said some mean things about you and I’m not like that.” I said, “Your apology is unnecessary, but I appreciate it.” It was a nice moment.