Election 2011 – Better Know Your Candidates

They say all politics are local, and it couldn’t be more true here.  I find time and time again that most residents here don’t actually understand how our local government works (jokes on you, it doesn’t!, zing).

Long Beach has a five seat City Council, that includes a City Council President, a City Council Vice President, and then three additional members.  An election is held every odd-numbered year, and this is where it gets complicated.  Three candidates are up per cycle.  The two candidates with the most votes get four year terms, the third place candidate gets a two-year term (read more in the Municipal Code)

Then, we have a City Manager, who is an unelected de facto mayor of the City (Read section 11 of the Municipal Code).  He’s appointed by a majority vote of the council.  He can unilaterally appoint all department heads – and better, even decide whether certain positions should exist, like a Commissioner of Public Safety.  He decides which cops and city employees should get promotions.  Further, he gets to decide things like if the police should have a commissioner, a position that technically falls on the City Manager as per the code.  Once he decides there should be one, he just has to put up the nominee for a majority vote. (article 4)  He also gets to decide what issues will even be presented to the City Council or if he’d prefer to handle a topic without involving them.

So, the obnoxious election signs are flooding across town and you want to know what’s going on.  “Who should I vote for?”  Ha.  I’m not going to touch that one.  But I will tell you who is up on the block .

The only real political advice I will say is that Republican and Democrat mean absolutely nothing in Long Beach.  Several councilmen have changed their party affiliation as they’ve seen fit.  Some councilmen while in their positions have acted like members of the opposite party and have consistently remained inconsistent. And further, small-town politics just don’t lend themselves to national party identification with a R or a D next to one’s names.  What do I mean?  Vote for the people you think make sense and aren’t completely lying to you.  Party affiliation in this city is just a formality and has really nothing to do with a candidate’s tax policy, social stances, business perspective, or community issues.

So, there are three seats up for grabs and six people running.  Here they are:

The Elephants in the Room

Thomas Solfield Junior – Current City Council President

Solfield is finishing his second four-year term.  He’s been City Council President since 2008 and accused of conflicts of interest because his father is the appointed police commissioner, Thomas Sofield Senior.

Mona Goodman – Current City Council Vice President

Goodman is also a two term incumbent.  She espouses anti-tax views and a pro-environment agenda.  In an interview with the Patch she said she wanted to “cease the overdevelopment of the city.”  I’m not entirely clear what overdevelopment that refers to because since 2008, there’s been the Allegria, the Aqua, and one rental complex across from the defunct SUPERBLOCK (unless I’m wrong).

In looking through City Council Meeting notes and coverage that’s come out of them, she keeps a low profile and doesn’t have any big asterisks next to her name one way or the other.  There’s a silly picture of her cleaning up her place after Irene via CBS News.

Marvin Weiss – The New Guy, not really

Weiss was defeated in the 2009 election and is back for round II.  He traces his LB routes back to 1918, but more recently has been a lifeguard and makes a living  as a health care equipment salesman.  According to a Newsday profile on him from the 2009 cycle, he’s also a board member of Surfer’s Way which helps get autistic kids surfing – and supports Autism research, kudos to that.

The Donkeys

Len Torres – Current City Council Member

Torres was the first Hispanic elected to the Council in 2009 and has said he’s not a “happy camper” with the way politics have currently been run.  Torres has maintained strong support among the North Long Beach community.

Fran Adelson – Businesswoman with an Agenda

Adelson completed ten years on the Library Board of Trustees before losing in the 2009 election by 12 votes – showing just how much individual votes matter.  She’s been a real estate broker in Long Beach for 24 years and her entire family has been involved in the community over the years – without ever having a realitve work directly for the City.  Fun fact, her husband runs the Jazz Fest.  She claimed there’s a “pervasive” “culture of bullying” in the City Council and throughout City Hall.  Sounds like High School all over again.

Scott Mandel – The Other New Guy

Mandel claims not to be a politician, with this being his first run for any elected office.  A commercial litigation lawyer by trade, he’s looking to jump into the fun that is the boardwalk empire of Long Beach.  He’s been working with a wide range of groups in Long Beach, like the Latino Civic Association.

Note: Councilmen John McLaughlin (R) and Michael Fagen (D) are not up for reelection

Fun bit of political flack.  Democrats like to complain that the current Republican administration raised spending by 25%, while Republicans like to remind Democrats that their last time in the majority they tried to raise taxes by 25%.  Are you seeing a pattern?

So there are your candidates.  Do your googling and decide who you want to be in control of bringing international events to the city, appointing the City Manger, deciding your taxes, appointing various department heads, and deciding your beach rules.

Much of the background for this came from several LB Patch articles, thanks Joe/Jeff

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14 thoughts on “Election 2011 – Better Know Your Candidates”

  1. I don’t believe in voting on party lines. I listen to what the candidates have to say and base it on that..

    That being said..I will not vote for Sofield or Goodman. Let the almighty powerful Sofield go down!

    So far Weiss and Torres are my picks.. not sure on my third yet.

  2. Yup, best advice is to ignore the parties in this town.

    The bigger problem here is that even once a new council is elected nothing HAS to happen to Theofan. The City Manager serves at the will of the Council, he does not need to be “re-elected” by the council at any point in time until they feel like it. And as you stated, he doesn’t even need to involve the council in his decisions. How could Sofield Sr. be appointed Chief of Police when his son is the City Council President? Any way the residents of LB can bring a lawsuit against the city for conflict of interest??

    How is Fagan still on the council after being arrested for unemployment fraud?? I believe in innocent until proven guilty, but a Council member’s character (or any elected official) should not even be on the borderline of arrest. Just the fact that he was arrested he should have resigned. And really, DA Rice has signed weekly affidavits by Fagen stating he has no income as evidence.

    Len Torres is the guy that hasn’t voted on numerous occasions because he did not read the responses for Requests for Proposals. Why are you on the council if you’re not going to read/vote on major issues, several this year (Surf Comp, Bike rental company from Miami)??

    Ahhhhhh….. so many questions in this town!!!

    If any of the council members or candidates are reading this message board, please interact with us and answer our questions.

  3. ^ Len Torres was the most outspoken re: the Miami bike rental contract. Torres was very vocal about safety concerns and he was the one who called Theofan out for the conflict of interest with the contract in the first place. Thus far, Torres has been more environmentally forward thinking than Goodman, who’s out for her inner circles best interests only.

    Seriously will someone give me 3 reasons why Goodman exists on the City Council? What has she done?

  4. I stand corrected. Torres did not vote because the rest of the council did not give him the documents to read. He had to file Freedom of Information Act paperwork to get it and apparently never received it.

    Why does a Council member has to request documentation on something he is supposed to vote on via a FOIA request to the city he works for?!?!?!?

    This place is so corrupt. I would suggest some of our local lawyers interface with Nassau County and the New York State offices but I’m sure if they went that route, they will never win a case in LB court again.

  5. Lenoard Remo – Secretary of Labor Relations (a position not used since 1972)
    Appointed January 2011

    Previous posts: 8 years on City Council, owned a series of restaurants in the City that all appear to be closed now

  6. I agree that party affiliation means nothing in small town politics. However, the more people I talk to the more apparent it is (to me) that people don’t realize that the “Independence Party” is in fact a political party! The “Independence Party” in Nassau County appears to be a “rubber stamp” for the Nassau County Republican Party. When the sample ballot is released take a look at the candidates’ names appearing on the “Independence Party” line on the ballot and compare them to the names appearing on the Republican Line; they’ll be identical. Make no mistake about it, those of you who register and vote “Independence” (in Nassau County) are voting for a political party, and not a slate of “Independent” candidates.

  7. If the writer is trying to educate the public he or she needs to present facts. Tom Sofield Jr’s administration inherited a huge surplus it has disappeared. He promised a new rec center in 2007 where is it. Not one street reconstructed this year. The existing rec center and our boardwalk continue to crumble. The West End Fire House nearly $3m over budget and late likewise the New York Ave lift station.
    Ms Goodman is against development and any city that ceases to improve dies.
    Mr Weiss seems like a nice person but what evidence is there of any finacial experience, our budget is over $70 million
    Mr Torres ran one of NYC’s largest school districts. He is a strong enviromentalist and brought to light the East Rockaway sewer dumping.He has spearheaded the bill that the public has a right to know of these occurances.
    Your snide remark about Ms Adelson is uncalled for, you could have pointed out that she voted for solar panels on the library which are saving tax payers dollars and for the reopening of a west end branch

  8. on the firehouse, was there ever anything written or said about why it needed repair in the first place? Was it shoddy construction? If so, who did the job and at the direction of whom? Just wondering

  9. the fire house had a roofing leak , that was repaired and continued to leak, the doors were damaged by one of the trucks backing in. mold was discovered in the building and it became a health issue

  10. @Insider….You are correct. I joined the Independence Party when I moved to Long Beach 14 years ago. I thought I was joing the party of Ross Perot. Instead I discovered that the Democrats and Republicans were fighting to control it. To the best of my knowledge, the Republicans won control. You can’t believe how low some of these people will go.
    I am now non affiliated.

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