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(Female) majority rule

Long Beach City Council’s appointment of six women commissioners ends century-long streak of minority

Video by Denny Cristales

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It took more than a century, but the Long Beach City Council’s historic vote Tuesday ended a streak of male majority when it voted, 8-0, to appoint six women to several City commissions, officially designating female commissioners as 52 percent of the total positions.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said there has never been a female majority since the City was founded in 1897.

“It’s been important to us over the last few years to ensure that our commissions represent the beautiful diversity of our community, and that means ensuring women have a seat at the table, that they are being heard and their ideas and important contributions to our community are being implemented in all levels of government,” Garcia said at the July 10 council meeting inside the Long Beach City Hall council chamber. “We know that appointing more women to commissions is not just about appointing the best people, […] what we’ve tried to do always is appoint the most qualified and smartest people in our city.”

Out of the 26 city commissions, 14 now have a female majority, including the Civil Service Commission, which is entirely represented by women. Every city commission also now has at least one female member. Garcia said it has been a priority during his first term as mayor to increase the number of female commissioners in the city. In the final week of his first term, Garcia assisted in securing a total of 114 women to positions on city commissions and boards.

In a July 10 press release published shortly after the vote, Garcia’s office wrote that 30 women were appointed to commission positions this calendar year thus far. The statement also reads that ethnic diversity has also increased in city commissions, with Asian representation rising from 5 percent to 8 percent, black representation from 10 percent to 13.5 percent and Hispanic representation from 11 percent to 19.7 percent.

Photos by Denny Cristales | Signal Tribune
The Long Beach City Council voted 8-0 Tuesday, July 10 to appoint six women to several city commissions, officially ending a streak of male majority that began when Long Beach was founded in 1897. According to Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia’s office, female commissioners now make up 52 percent of the City’s commission spots. Pictured is a group of the City’s female commissioners at Tuesday’s council meeting at Long Beach City Hall inside the council chamber.

“We’re gaining more and more voices every year, and I think that’s important for our city,” Garcia said. “[…] I’m proud that our city and government continue to diversify and more women continue to get hired as department heads, as leaders and, of course, in this body that represents this city. That’s something as a city that we all should certainly be proud of, and I know I am tonight.”

The six new appointees include: Geetanjali Reuben and Mary Sophiea with the Airport Advisory Commission; Jenny Novak and Hilda Gaytan with the Sustainable City Commission; Flora Easter with the Senior Citizen Advisory Commission; and Lindsay Mais with the Long Beach Community Investment Company.

Reuben has 25 years of experience in the aerospace industry, Sophiea is a business owner who runs Baja Sonora near Long Beach Airport, Novak is a 1st-district resident who works with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Gaytan is a 9th-district resident who is involved with several associations relating to agricultural and health planning in north Long Beach, Easter is an 8th-district resident who served on the Citizen Advisory Commission on Disabilities, and Mais is an east Long Beach resident who works at UBS Financial Services and is involved with organizations such as Leadership Long Beach and the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Long Beach 1st District Councilmember Lena Gonzalez commended the six women who were appointed to City commission positions on Tuesday, July 10 at Long Beach City Hall’s council chamber, adding that it’s the women’s effort and suggestions that will “get things done.”

First District Councilmember Lena Gonzalez commended the women who agreed to serve as commissioners, and she acknowledged Garcia’s effort for female inclusiveness in city positions.

“I remember I had a few suggestions who happened to be male, and he said, ‘We have to get to parity before we start looking at our male counterparts,’ and I really appreciate that effort,” she said. “[…] Citywide, you are all, collectively, incredible women. […] The recommendations that you put forward really move actions and really get things done.”

Eighth District Councilmember Al Austin said the vote has created a “changing of the guard” in the city, ensuring Long Beach’s “bright future.”

“I think the mayor summed it up pretty well– we get things done with women,” he said. “And, we have very capable women serving in our commission and also in City Hall. It’s a new day in Long Beach. […] I think this is a very amazing thing to witness in terms of the leadership of our city.”

Third District Councilmember Suzie Price echoed Garcia’s and Austin’s comments.

“Agreeing to serve is a commitment,” Price said. “I know several of you personally, and I know that you have a heart for the city and that you have a commitment to serve. I couldn’t agree more with the mayor and my council colleague, Councilman Austin. I do believe, because, one, I am a woman, but, two, based on what I’ve seen, women have certain strengths that manifest themselves in different ways. One of those ways is that we like to see a result. We like to be efficient, and we like to be productive.”

Second District Councilmember Jeannine Pearce recalled her time as a city commissioner and remarked how “inspiring” it was to see the new wave of women who will now serve.

“It’s so inspiring to […] see so many strong, fierce women that lead with your values, lead with your heart and, of course, lead with your very smart brains,” she said.

Long Beach Vice Mayor Rex Richardson did not vote since he was absent from the council meeting.

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(Female) majority rule