MTLB Interview w/ Craig Ursuy Candidate for LB City Council 6th District
Why are you running and why now?
Its time to give a voice to the people. What’s really going on is, maybe people we’ll never know who really their city councilmember is, 90% don’t vote, they’re no engaged and that means there is a lack of accountability and a lack of understanding [of] what’s happening. We need somebody who’s going to come in there and to bring people together. And empower people to do more for themselves. That they could be a part of this community and have a say in City Hall.
What are the three top issues that you want to address immediately?
Some of the things I hear is like what are we gonna do in the neighborhoods. Look around kids just got nothing to do anymore. All these programs, we’ve had in the past, you know it just seemed to be going away. They’re not here anymore.
Like what type of programs?
Like the P.A.L programs for example, [when] police in the streets with the kids, there was something to go with or after school programs. Many kids don’t even know if there are any [programs] and parents want to know what are you going to help make sure I could pay rent? Make sure my kids could get into a good school and that the jobs of tomorrow are not going away. That is what guides me intuitively because of the city doing well. 4.2% unemployment, finally, but in my area, it's 3 times that were not feeling were getting a piece of the pie, so we say we’re championing these things in such ambiguous manners and yet at the same time if that was the case, we would have done it sooner.
How would you describe your political ideologically?
I’m a little bit unique because I’m a pragmatic individual. Sometimes, people see what I’m saying is very progressive. Because they are very conservative and vice versa, so the professors will think I’m extremely conservative so It depends on the issue and what’s involved. I’m more about getting people to feel empowered and [that] they have control and say in their lives. That their vote does matter. So, driving that means whatever decision I make whether it has more government influence or less government. What happens is the end goal.
So, what would you say is your is most conservative belief and what is your most progressive belief?
My most conservative belief is we need more value for our tax dollars, simple as that. We have a budget that [other] cities would dream of...., and yet we struggle to get the budget in line and the projections are getting worse and worse. By 2022, we could be up to $12 million in a shortfall… they [city hall] don’t want to tackle the homeless with the programs we already have. We have about $44 million from the county and the state, and according to the LB Report, [the city of LB wants] another tax on property and want to put it on the ballot, they already trying to put the BCP tax on property, they want to do a sales tax, and then they want to put a bond for the homeless crisis… we could manage better than that. I’m very sure of it.
What is your most progressive belief?
My most progressive belief is giving voice to the people and that the government should be held accountable and that the end of the day the more of us collect together the better we are. And does that mean some polices are seen as anti-business or what have you? I disagree, I think business has an interest in all these issues and that we are cohabitants.
Do you have any conflict of interest that might cause you to recuse yourself on the council?
Uh…if its an issue about the love of the community then yes. [laughter]
No, absolutely not I have no financial interest… if you look at my background. I’ve been all over the world. None of my interests is tide to Long Beach or any of these contracts… what I’m proud of [is] that I take with
The most talked-about issue in Long Beach has to be housing affordability, according to the KCET TV series City Rising rent in Long Beach has risen 55% in the past 6-years. What policies have you seen oversees that you think we could use in Long Beach?
Thank you for asking that question because people look at me when I talk about something like that [as if] I’m an outsider or I need to go back where I came from. I ‘am American and I’m proud of it. But right now, what’s going on here is a global issue… This Hong Kong protest wasn’t about this extradition bill, that was the trigger [but] the fact is they [Hong Kong residents] can’t afford to live there and young generations don’t feel they have a future. The exact same picture you see here in district 6, no different…its just gotten out of hand.
It's driven by speculative property prices, as well as, a growing demand for people to live…I know everybody has to have to place weather if your homeless or whether you already have a home and you’re could be on the brink [ of losing it]. We need to do more, but again we have to be careful that what we don’t have ulterior consequences. That being said, yeah rent gouging is a concern. That is a big issue and I’m glad the state stepped up… I do think they [the city] did overstep their bounds in a couple of areas. But when it comes to these contracts and the rights of landlords.
Are you talking about tenet protections? Do you think that stepped over the line?
Yeah, like if a landlord wants to evict someone, I don’t think we should be getting in the way of that… so, what you’re dealing with in some cases these bad actors. I think we could do better than that than trying to manipulate the market.
So, you would not support a rent control ordnance?
Not a stiff one, I think rent gouging is a huge concern and we need [ to have] protections for both sides.
If you could change one thing about the zoning code what would it be?
Oh, you go toe to toe with me, you’ll get a bunch of different answers…I think when you see this [ gestures toward the unfinished Shoreline Gateway building] needs to be contained, but outside of that, we need to listen to the people want…basically I think we shouldn’t build really tall buildings, I think we should keep it contained and work with the community.
On Poor air in Long Beach.
When I moved [to Long Beach], day one there was this dirt, it was dark on the ground of my apartment… I didn’t realize it was the air, it was that bad. I got my car right out of the port and within a day of being there, it was so nasty because that stuff spreads and it spreads to people not even in my district. We need to do something. I think the city has the right mindset that we need to do something, but I think some outside influences are slowing it down.
The LBPD has faced lawsuits over wrongful death, retaliation by former cops, the Tiger-Text app scandal, should there be a change in leadership or does the LBPD have a negative police culture?
It’s a systemic issue across this country. Good cops getting mixed-up with bad cops and shielding bad cops. It's not good. I have so much respect for the police, my brother was an MP...but it’s a mix of both, I think we're better off today than it was decades past, crime is back up on the rise and if you look at my district people just don’t feel safe. It’s scary.
The real issue is getting the cops on the streets. Get them [LBPD] talking to people, on the beaten path. That’s what I want. it’s a cultural issue mostly. Because they [LBPD] need to know what’s going on in the community to be involved. Most of them don’t live in district 6 and so they don’t know what’s going on. Could you imagine? What that could do for kids not to fear cops and know them by their first name for good reasons… you see those little Youtube videos now where a cops [on] skateboards with kids, we need that back. That’s the starting point, especially in a community as diverse as mine, with so much distrust. We can bridge that gap little by little.
Last year, the inspector of the Queen Mary reported that the ship couldn't have been in the worst condition and could be unsalvageable, and according to 2015 marine survey a naval architect said the cost to repair the Queen Mary could be 289 million, Is the Queen Mary, for as much of a landmark it is in Long Beach, is it really worth it?
Is it really? Look we bought that rust bucket back in the 60’s remember?
Well, you never know when something becomes a landmark, it takes time. I'm pretty sure when they placed the Statue of Liberty some thought realty your gonna place a statue on that little island
They didn’t put a rust bucket on the island, they bought that rust bucket. They [city of LB] never sent a city inspector, they never sent anybody over there to check out what they were buying, they didn’t care how much they were paying it for… don’t take my word for it, take it from Rene Simon, who was the 2nd City Councilwoman of Long Beach, in her own book Our Own Big City… Ok, so the question is it salvageable? Is it worthy [of] return in investment in the future for the city? Because it used to be just a piece that somebody happened to enjoy when they were driving in the Grand Prix. It took years to get it to do what we think it … we need to start asking some fundamental questions is it going to be a long-term vision for the city or is it gonna eat up money that we could use elsewhere, like my community. That scares me because I’d rather put money back into my community than some ship that just going to fall apart.
Well, hyper-local issues require hyper-local people to address them, so I can’t say my international experience is going to be addressing. I just want to manage the city budget better. It means were placing more value for the money we're spending already. So, when we go to address these problems were not wasting it with terrible contractors, we're not wasting that with bad inspectors. We're putting the right money in the right place so that when we fix these potholes, it didn’t cost us an arm and a leg to do it… I want to be a little more accountable and a little bit wiser without money. That how it addresses a hyper-local issue