A weekly newsletter on the latest local government news from the lens of the Long Beach Post's City Hall reporter, who sits through so many city meetings for us.
In these polls, everyone wins

Long Beach’s next mayor is going to be Councilmember Rex Richardson, and it’s not going to be close.

Wait—scratch that. It’s going to be a nail-biter, with Councilmember Suzie Price and Richardson in a dead heat.

How you’re expecting the race for the city’s top elected seat to play out could depend on which poll results you’re reading, and who paid for them.

Earlier this month a poll by Los Angeles firm FM3 Research showed Richardson with a healthy seven percentage-point lead over Price, the same margin he carried after the June primary election.

Throw in the large list of endorsements that Richardson has accumulated, and his favorability rate jumps from 40% to 57%, according to the poll. When voters were told Richardson led the city effort to put panic buttons in hotels to protect employees from sexual assault, Richardson’s percentage of likely support rockets to a whopping 67%.

Price doesn’t stand a chance, right?

However, poll results from Sextant Strategies & Research distributed by the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday seemingly pours cold water on the FM3 results.

According to that poll, Price and Richardson are deadlocked at 41% each heading into the November election, but Price has a higher favorability rating, with the poll suggesting that 40% of people polled liked her better than Richardson (36%).

Poll results are some of the most opaque indicators that people can be asked to decipher. You often don’t know the questions that were asked during the process, or who paid for the polling.

If you’ve been paying attention to your mailers, you should know by now that the Long Beach Firefighters union is backing Richardson and has spent about $50,000 on his campaign, including paying for polling, according to campaign disclosures.

Similarly, Price is backed by the chamber’s political action committee, which has spent over $31,000 supporting her bid for mayor.

We don’t know how the questions were phrased or what exactly was asked so it’s hard to assess the poll results with any kind of authority.

The two-page FM3 poll based its results partially on Richardson’s endorsement list, which is large and includes dozens of Democratic clubs, unions and elected officials across the region.

It also cited Richardson’s role in passing Claudia’s Law, a hotel worker protection law that was ultimately approved by voters. That’s partially true. He was a supporter of the item but it was introduced to the City Council in 2017 by then-Councilmember Lena Gonzalez on her office’s letterhead.

The Sextant poll had even less information. The one-page summary included a single bar graph showing Price and Richardson were in a statistical tie with about one-third of voters undecided. Price was able to close the 7% gap she trailed by after the primary because voters who didn’t show up in June will show up in November and will outpace Richardson by 6%, according to the poll.

The choice the Sextant poll gave participants was between "a lobbyist with no work experience outside of politics" (presumably Richardson) and a candidate "who is a criminal prosecutor and small business owner." (We’re pretty sure that’s Price.)

As we all learned in the 2016 presidential election cycle, polls can be wrong. It could be because the right people weren’t asked for their opinion or a certain portion of the electorate decided to sit out a vote because of voter apathy.

A non-partisan poll put out by Cal State Long Beach earlier this year was mostly right in which candidate voters would support in the primary, but the razor-thin margin of less than 1% that it predicted Richardson would win was proven wrong (he won by 7%).

This week, someone remarked to me that the best poll result was the primary election, because that vote removed the hypothetical that many pollsters rely on when drawing their conclusions.

I’ll follow up on that and say that the best interpreter of a candidate is you, the voter. The good news is you should have ample opportunity over the next six weeks to meet Price and Richardson and hear them speak at the circuit of forums they’ll be participating in.

My polling says that you’ll be a 100% better voter if you tune in.


You probably noticed the people standing outside your local grocery store the past few weeks asking you to sign a health care petition, which is connected to the City Council’s recent vote to raise the minimum wage for local health care workers to $25 per hour. Well, this week the coalition of hospitals that were paying for that effort turned in over 40,000 names to the City Clerk to be verified for a referendum on that vote. What happens in the interim is that the law is paused from taking effect until the Los Angeles County election officials finish the verification process. If 26,829 of those signatures are found to be eligible Long Beach voters, the fate of the minimum wage increase could be put on pause until March 2024, the next regularly scheduled election in the city. The City Council could call a special election to speed up the process, but special elections are not cheap. Just putting the item on this year’s regular election would have cost upward of $150,000.


We’re still on
a City Council hiatus this week, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to be engaged. If you live on the Westside or have time to drive across town, there’s a mayoral forum scheduled for Sept. 29 at 5 p.m. at the Bret Harte Neighborhood Library. Can’t make it to that forum? There’s another event scheduled for Oct. 3 at the Aquarium of the Pacific that will feature candidates for all the remaining city races as well as the two California Assembly seats that represent Long Beach. The forum is being hosted by Leadership Long Beach and is scheduled to start 6 p.m. Free parking will be provided.

Please feel free to contact me at with questions, suggestions, or story tips.
Long Beach Post, 211 E. Ocean Blvd, Suite 400, Long Beach, CA 90802, United States

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