Long Beach to elect first Black mayor, Rex Richardson, after opponent concedes
Rex Richardson will be the first Black mayor of Long Beach.
He made history on Tuesday after his runoff opponent, Suzie Price, conceded and cleared the path for Richardson to become the city’s first Black leader.
“The city is special and ... not often you hear stories like mine, where someone can come here as a young man, become the youngest City Council member, become the youngest vice mayor … and break barriers as the first African American mayor,” Richardson, 39, said in an interview Tuesday morning. “Long Beach is a special city like that.”
In a statement posted to Twitter, Price, a City Council member for the 3rd District, said that although an unknown number of votes remain to be counted, the “trend is going in the wrong direction for our campaign.”
“It appears that the people of Long Beach have spoken and selected Vice Mayor Richardson as our next mayor,” Price said in her statement. “I wish him nothing but success on the journey ahead.”
In a pair of historic firsts, Robert Garcia, the former Long Beach mayor, is set to become the first openly gay immigrant in Congress. The candidate who could take over Garcia’s former job would become the city’s first Black mayor.
According to the Los Angeles County registrar’s office, Richardson has 55.29% of the runoff vote Tuesday morning, compared to Price’s 44.71%, a difference of 8,166 votes.
Richardson, who is currently the city’s vice mayor and councilmember for the 9th District, said Price called him early Tuesday to offer congratulations.
Richardson said he would announce his transition team Wednesday. “I feel incredibly blessed and fortunate to be in this position, but I also feel ready,” he said, describing it as “watershed moment” for the city.
Richardson was born on Scott Air Force Base in Belleville, Ill. His family endured the Jim Crow laws in the South, and his mother integrated her school in Alabama when she was 7 years old. His parents divorced, and Richardson was raised by his mother.
He moved to California when he was 11 and attended Cal State Dominguez Hills for college, where he was student body president, before going on to become a labor organizer in South Los Angeles. He began his career in Long Beach politics as the chief of staff to Councilmember Steven Neal. In 2014, when he was 30 years old, Richardson became the youngest member ever elected to Long Beach City Council. He made history again in 2016 when he became the city’s youngest vice mayor at 32 years old. He was reelected to the council in 2018.
Kenneth Mejia wins the race for L.A. city controller, becoming the first Asian American elected to citywide office in L.A.
Richardson was the favorite heading into the general elections, besting Price in the primaries. In the initial results on election night, Richardson emerged in the lead, and his margin expanded over the last week.
Price was born in North Carolina and lived in Iran until she was 7 before fleeing political violence and moving to California with her mother. Price was not available for additional comment Tuesday.
In a statement, she said she was proud of her campaign. “As a young kid trying to learn a new language in a new country, I could never have dreamed of running for mayor in one [of] this country’s greatest cities,” Price said. “This is the essence of democracy and the heart of the American dream. I love the city and will always work hard to make it a better place.”
Price, a deputy district attorney for Orange County who was first elected to City Council in 2014, told the Long Beach Post in October that the race for mayor would be her last political run.
Helen Tran is poised to take office as San Bernardino’s first mayor of Asian descent and third female. She defeated longtime City Atty. James Penman.
Price and Richardson were vying to replace Robert Garcia, the first gay and Latino mayor of Long Beach. Garcia is set to become the first gay immigrant in the U.S. House of Representatives, after a decisive showing from voters in the 42nd Congressional District, which includes Long Beach and southeastern Los Angeles County.
Long Beach, with a population of 470,000 people, is the second-largest city in Los Angeles County and is home to the port of Long Beach, one of the busiest seaports in the world.
The most important issues facing Long Beach has been homelessness, housing and crime, according to a poll by Cal State Long Beach taken a week before the Nov. 8 elections.
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