After their sweeping victory in the Long Beach City Council election Tuesday, Democrats Len Torres, Fran Adelson and Scott Mandel attributed their success to what they viewed as voters’ discontent with the Republican administration on matters of attitude, fairness and open government.
"I think first and foremost, our inability to be arrogant about being part of this wonderful city,” said incumbent Len Torres when asked what the thought encouraged most voters to support him and his fellow Democrats. “It's very easy to be in a position where you treat people in a way that's unfair. I think that was the message that got out."
Of the Democratic trio, Torres had the highest vote total to win a four-year term in the at-large election with three open seats. In victory, Adelson, who garnered two votes fewer than Torres but wins the same term, struck a contrast between how the two teams campaigned and underscored her theme of making city government more open and accessible to constituents.
"I think that people finally got to see the difference between the campaigns, the ways we ran a clean, higher-road campaign with no bashing,” Adelson said. “We want to bring the government back to the people and transparency back to the people. We let every community know they are just as important as the next."
Mandel, a first-time candidate who won a two-year term by capturing the third highest vote total, painted the victory as the beginning of a recovery. "We're all going to work together to start healing the city,” he said. “I think voters had enough. I think it was time for a change, they needed a change and we offered that change here."
Tuesday night’s election at least changes the face of the council, from a 3-2 Republican majority to a 4-1 Democrat majority, as Torres, Adelson and Mandel will join incumbents Michael Fagen and lone Republican John McLaughlin.
The Republicans campaigned with an emphasis on portraying the city as faring comparatively well in tough economic times, with the administration producing lower taxes, a budget with a zero percent tax levy increase and a top bond rating from Moody’s, the financial ratings agency.
Council Vice President Mona Goodman, who came in three votes behind President Thomas Sofield Jr. (who declined to comment), said she thought constituents would support their achievements.
"[I thought] that people would see things were going well, the city's looked the best it's looked and that things were going along fine,” Goodman said. “I'm a bit surprised frankly.”
Goodman said she is still passionate about Long Beach and hopes things will go well with the city. “I'll still be attending city council meetings,” she said. “I'll just be sitting in a different place."
In defeat, Marvin Weiss, the top vote-getter on the Republican team, wished the Democrats well, expressed hope that they will be fair and just in their governance, and that the city prospers. But he thought the majority of voters didn’t objectively assess the Republican team.
“I think too many people were listening to negative things and taking that to heart and not doing enough homework on their own,” Weiss said. “There is a tone in the country about change, so change is what has now occurred."
City Council Election Results:
D- Len Torres: 3,798
D- Fran Adelson: 3,796
D- Scott Mandel: 3,708
R- Marvin Weiss: 3,333
R- Thomas Sofield Jr.: 3,324
R- Mona Goodman: 3,321