State Senator Alan Lowenthal was in Long Beach Wednesday night for Fourth District Councilman Patrick O’Donnell’s monthly ‘Chat with Pat.” And Lowenthal, who is also running for U.S. Congress, didn’t use O’Donnell’s invitation to address his upcoming campaign, instead answering questions of pressing concern out of Sacramento.
Lowenthal, a n the newly created district that covers Belmont Shore, Long Beach, Los Alamitos, Rossmoor, Lakewood and surrounding cities, is a retired California State University, Long Beach, psychology professor. He has represented the area for two decades--six years each on both the Long Beach City Council and in the State Assembly, and the last eight years serving in the State Senate, for which he is now termed out.
After the meeting at Los Altos Library, Patch took the opportunity to discuss the 2012 congressional race with Lowenthal. There are several declared Republican candidates including Belmont Shore-Naples' City Councilman Gary DeLong, former Congressman Steve Kuykendall and Los Alamitos City Councilman Troy Edgar.
Below is the Question and Answer with Senator Lowenthal in its entirety. Though Lowenthal was very candid with Patch, the interview was cut short by a staffer as Lowenthal had a eager line of community members in waiting. And there is plenty of time to interview all the candidates in coming months for the race.
Q: If elected, what would you do for Belmont Shore/Naples residents and business?
A: If elected to Congress, I would listen to people. I am someone who prides myself in understanding all sides of the issues, I try to represent my district and fight for my district. You can only do that by having ongoing community meetings, by meeting with people, by listening and bringing these issues forward.
For example, I got involved with cleaning up the Ports not because it was an idea in my own head, but because someone in my community brought it to my attention. I walked the district and and talked to people. I am going to do this same thing in Congress, I am not going to change. I am going to still try to fight for the issues, I want to make sure that we protect Long Beach as a wonderful place to live in.
Q: Residents in Belmont Shore want to be a priority, they want to ensure they are voting for someone who will not only take note of their issues, but take action. Are they going to be a priority of yours if elected?
A: I love the Shore, I live in Bluff Park. That being said, I believe in fairness, I believe if there are real issues that the Shore wants I will be there for them. But I can’t say that I am going to be more into the Shore than I am into other areas of the city. I have a 20-year history of representing this city. I am going to fight for the city, every nook and cranny.
Q: As far as campaign contributions, are you optimistic with the money you have raised, should voters be concerned that there are other candidates that currently have more campaign money reported than you do at this stage?
A: People should not be frightened by early money that has been reported, that means nothing. I will have plenty of money to run this race. I will be the Democratic nominee to run this race, no other Democrat wants to run against me — even though it is an open primary, there will most likely be one Democrat and one Republican coming out of the race. And I will be the Democrat.
Republicans have to fight amongst themselves to figure out which of them is going to come out — in a primary, most primary voters will vote for their own party. I will have plenty of money to get my message out. The real battle, and it will be a tough race, but the real battle for me will be in November as far as my competition.
This is a competitive seat, there is an 11-percentage point democratic edge, and normally that would be sufficient. But the country and the state [are] in a volatile state; a lot will depend on how they feel about the national leaders. All of it will be in play in November. People are very concerned about jobs, and they will listen to hear which party is best able to deal with the issues — and that person is me. I think I win, I think I have support, but I am realistic to know that it will be competitive, we will have a full discussion of issues and there will be plenty of money to do that.
Right now I would say this is a great place to begin with a democratic edge. It will be a real race in November and I look forward to that.
Q: Why are you running for this seat?
A: I think I can best serve this community at this time, in Washington, when a critical debate is going on about where the future of the country is going. This is maybe the most critical time in our lifetime.
It is the end of my term in the senate, I will be completing my eighth term, I cannot run for re-election, and this is a seat that I feel I can really serve this community in a time where it needs strong leadership.