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].
A conversation with our mayor
Rex Richardson was elected in 2022 as the city’s 29th mayor and the city’s first Black mayor. Before that he represented North Long Beach as the District 9 councilmember. He lives in North Long Beach with his wife Nina and their daughters Alina and Mila.
Tim Grobaty: I promised you and myself that I wouldn’t ask you any of the usual questions about politics. So let’s start with your vices. Do you drink?
Rex Richardson: Do I drink?
Q: Yeah. Like whiskey.
A: I like whiskey. I’m a dad now so I don’t hang out as much as I used to. I do set aside time for me and Mrs. Richardson, though. During the pandemic we invested a lot in our backyard, so that’s become a playground for the kids and for date nights with my wife.
Q: Any other vices?
A: Comic books. I really like comic books.
Q: Oh no…
A: Well, [Former Mayor] Robert Garcia is a DC fan. I’m a Marvel fan. I grew up with the X-Men, and comics are a great way to get my daughters to read. They’ve got the pictures so they can read while looking at what the characters are doing. My daughters are 8 and 6. The older one likes [Marvel superhero] Moon Girl and they like [Marvel superhero] Spider-Gwen and Nubia [DC Comics’ first black superhero].
Q: OK, but what do you read when you’re not reading comic books?
A: I don’t get a whole lot of time to read other than teaching my kids to read. I keep up with the news and I do a lot of reading of city documents and matters relating to the council. And I read the Long Beach Reads One Book.
Q: Did you read my book?
A: What was that?
Q: “I’m Dyin’ Here.” It was a Long Beach Reads One Book a few years ago [in 2016].
A: No, I don’t think I read that.
Q: Barack Obama reads a lot and puts out his favorite books of the year every year.
A: I would love to do that, maybe after I settle into my role as mayor.
Q: What do you and your wife do for fun?
A: A lot of things. We spend time at the Hollywood Bowl. We saw the Tina Turner musical on Broadway. We go to Spaghettini in Seal Beach a lot to hear live music, we see [the R&B vocal group] DW3 there. They played at our wedding. We got married at the Long Beach Museum of Art and had our reception on the terrace at The Grand.
Q: You graduated from Cal State Dominguez Hills, but as mayor of Long Beach who do you root for if Dominguez Hills plays Long Beach in basketball or baseball?
A: Do they do that? Are they in the same league?
Q: I don’t know. But if they did, who would you root for?
A: I’d root for both teams. I try to be a booster and support both.
Q: OK, well that’s a political answer.
A: No, I mean it. I have a lot of support for both schools.
Q: Who would you like to see run against Biden in the Democratic primaries?
A: No one. I’m ridin’ with Biden. I was able to spend 40 minutes with him and other mayors in the Oval Office. What I like most about him is his support for local governments. He’s injected a lot of resources to local governments. His administration is packed with former mayors: his secretary of transportation, secretary of labor, housing and urban development—they were all mayors.
Q: Is there a question you want to ask yourself?
A: Well, I thought you were going to ask me about my music playlist.
Q: No, that’s actually a question I have written down to ask you.
A: I use Apple Tunes, my wife uses Pandora. On my playlist you’ll find jazz, Anderson Paak, some Maxwell, some Sade, Kendrick Lamar, Earth, Wind and Fire, Lionel Ritchie and the Commodores. You might even find some Hall & Oates. I want the Long Beach Symphony to do a Mayor’s Pops concert with a lot of my favorite musicians’ music. I think that’d be cool.
Q: And what are you watching or streaming on TV?
A: We watch a lot of stuff: “Married at First Sight,” “Married to Real Estate,” “Housewives of the Potomac,” “Wu-Tang: An American Saga.” I love “The Mandolarian.” It’s great. And “Star Trek: Picard,” I sooo enjoyed that. I grew up watching a lot of “Star Trek.” We’ve only got a short window, about an hour, after talking to the kids and maybe playing some board games or reading to them before they go to bed when we can watch TV. Sometimes Nina goes to bed and I get some time to watch things like “Succession” or “House of the Dragon.”
Q: Finally, a lot of people have written songs about Long Beach. Which song would be a good theme song for the city?
A: Well, since we lost Tina Turner, I’d say “Simply the Best.” But when I think of Long Beach, I think of Sublime and “Summertime.” I think that would be the perfect song for Long Beach.