By Sam Favela /Staff Writer , Eliza de la Flor / Editor in Chief and Shannon Murphy / News Editor
Former LBCC speech teacher and public relations manager Robert Garcia finished first in a 10-person field running for Long Beach mayor on Tuesday, April 8 and will enter a runoff on Wednesday, June 3. If elected, 35-year-old Garcia will be the youngest person to hold the title of mayor in Long Beach.
LBCC Trustee Doug Otto finished fifth and former Trustee Gerrie Schipske was fourth.
No sign of stress was evident during Vice Mayor Garcia’s campaign party for mayor on election night. Garcia was all smiles as he walked into his election outside at the Hotel Maya on the Long Beach Harbor. By the end of the night, according to unofficial vote totals, Garcia led the elections at 25.4 percent, followed by Damon Dunn at 22.3 percent.
The current mayor of Long Beach, Bob Foster, made an appearance in support of Garcia’s campaign.
“I endorse the winner… he is the right guy for the future of Long Beach,” Foster said.
During the party, Garcia spoke to the campaign party next to his mother, Gaby O’Donnell, Foster and his partner Matthew Mendez.
“Our best days for the city are yet to come. I look around the room now and see Long Beach. I see the diversity that makes this city great,” Garcia told the crowd.
Garcia emigrated from Peru when he was 5, was the first to attend and graduate college in his family and has a close connection with LBCC and Cal State Long Beach teaching communication studies at both schools.
If Garcia is elected mayor of Long Beach, not only will he be the first Latino, but also the first openly gay mayor of Long Beach.
“We still have a long way to go tonight… together we are going to win the election” he said.
A grassroots campaign fueled by fiercely loyal supporters with a desire for transparency in government met with disappointment as two-term City Council member Gerrie Schipske’s mayoral run ended with her in fourth place according to unofficial results posted by the City of Long Beach on the Vote LB 2014 app in the early hours of Wednesday, April 9.
Campaign spokesperson Misha Houser said that if Schipske did not finish with the numbers to go to a run-off for mayor, “She would not do a write-in.”
Schipske entered her campaign gathering at Cirivello’s in Long Beach around 8:30 p.m. to applause and cheers of, “Gerri, Gerri,” from campaign volunteers and family. The gathering was shared by supporters of Carl Kemp, a candidate for City Council District 5 endorsed by Schipske.
While Schipske gained points it was not enough to budge her fourth-place standing and the latest available results showed her finishing with 15.5 percent of the vote.
Otto finished fifth with 13.6 percent of the vote.
Otto gained endorsements from Tom Clark, member of the LBCC Board of Trustees and former mayor of the Long Beach, former mayor of Los Angeles James Hahn and former California Governor George Deukmejian.
Otto said, “I’ve been in this city my whole life, I looked at where Long Beach was heading, I looked at my skill set and what Long Beach needed and thought there was a perfect match between those things.”