Candidates for state Senator position debate immigration, housing

A candidate forum hosted earlier this month had two candidates discuss crucial issues impacting Southern California residents.


Photos by Denny Cristales | Signal Tribune

Thirty-third District state Senator candidates, Lena Gonzalez and Jack Guerrero, debated May 6 at Veterans Park during a candidate forum, hosted by the Wrigley Association, which allowed residents to learn about the candidates’ stances on certain policies ahead of the June 4 special election.

The following is Part 2 recapping a May 6 candidate forum between state Senator candidates Lena Gonzalez and Jack Guerrero. Part 1 of this story is available here.

During the May 6 candidate forum at Veterans Park, hosted by the Wrigley Association, between two 33rd-district state Senator hopefuls– candidates Lena Gonzalez and Jack Guerrero– the two discussed immigration, housing and other items.

When it comes to Senate Bill 58 (SB 58), a bill that seeks to allow bars or nightclubs in select cities in California to extend their last call, both candidates are hesitant to support it.

Guerrero, a Cudahy city councilmember, said late-night establishments aren’t an issue in his city, emphasizing that his concern lies with public safety.

“I would say that any proposal that’s under consideration, whether in Long Beach or any other municipality, should be mindful of the consequences to public safety,” Guerrero said. “There are issues when you have bars and locations that have close proximity to schools or the families or the residential areas.”

Gonzalez, 1st-district Long Beach councilmember, expressed her non-support of the bill at this time.

“We know that there have been a lot of issues in our community relative to bars being open very late at night,” she said. “You look at downtown Long Beach, and I’m just looking at a microcosm as a city councilmember, and we know that there is a lot that we need to do in order to be able to say ‘yes’ to something like that.”

On the topic of immigration, Guerrero, whose parents are immigrants from Mexico, said he is not supportive of certain sanctuary laws, because, although “well-intentioned,’ they are “carte blanche.”

“I am very proud of my heritage, and I am always a champion for young people in our community who want to improve their lot in life and want to seek opportunities to get out of a cycle of poverty,” he said. “But with respect to immigration, what I would say is that we should be very careful about externalities that come again from well-intentioned policies. I do not support policies that afford protection to people with shady backgrounds or people with criminal backgrounds, and the problem I have with some of the sanctuary laws [is] that [they] are basically carte blanche and allow people with questionable backgrounds from coming into oftentimes minority communities who are victimized by people that have questionable backgrounds.”

Gonzalez retorted, saying that there are four million immigrant residents in the state that contribute billions of dollars in taxes.

“To sit and say and make a system where you’re [separating] the criminals and the non criminals– it’s already been negotiated at the state level: it’s called SB 54 through the California Values Act,” she said. “[…] I have three children of my own. I am a daughter of an immigrant who came here, and she came here illegally. She didn’t come here the right way. There’s no right way to do that. Just like many of our family members and like many of your family members probably did, too. And the great thing about our communities is that we should support these individuals, because just as much as they’re paying taxes, they’re not getting anything back– and it’s unfortunate.”

Gonzalez said that the issue of affordable housing is something that residents and homeless individuals need to compromise and develop a solution for, as the hesitance to develop affordable developments is something that always has a “not in my backyard mentality” with the community.

“Our state is in dire need, and we have an aging population,” she said. “[…] It’s about our kids and the future and where they will be housed down the line, because we don’t have opportunities for them at this point. And what I always tell people too is that affordable housing does not have to look like a 10-story building. It could look like a Habitat for Humanity, single-family home building, which I’ve created. I have 10 Habitat for Humanity single-family homes that will get people, not into apprenticeships, to home ownership.”

Guerrero said he “absolutely and unequivocally” opposes Senate Bill 50 (SB 50), which would require California counties to permit duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes in areas zoned for only single-family houses.

“And the problem with my opponent’s talk about a Habitat for Humanity structure to development is that that’s not the idea that prevails,” he argued. “It’s what the law says. That means that a 10-story building can actually come to your home, right next to your home, and establish itself. It’s not what we would like to do; it’s what the law allows and what developers are incented to do.”

For more information about both state Senator candidates, visit and