Dr. Robert Garcia is an accomplished educator and the Vice Mayor of the City of Long Beach, as well as a member of the California Coastal Commission. He has taken a leadership role in balancing the city budget, reforming pensions, expanding park space, and investing in technology. Robert intends to move Long Beach forward by attracting tech and green jobs, creating new educational partnerships with Cal State Long Beach and Long Beach City College, and rebuilding our aging streets, sidewalks and alleys.
Pension Reform & Balancing the Budget
When Vice Mayor Garcia joined the City Council in 2009, the city budget had a $40 million deficit and public employee pensions were spiraling out of control. Despite the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Vice Mayor Garcia teamed up with Mayor Bob Foster and key City Councilmembers to make city government leaner, more frugal, and more effective. He also worked with city employees, police officers and fire fighters to enact historic pension reform that will save taxpayers over $200 million over 10 years. Thanks to these efforts, Long Beach is enjoying its first budget surplus in ten years. Vice Mayor Garcia also initiated the revival of our Economic Development Department, which had been allowed to lapse. With that department now up and running, the city has one more valuable resource to encourage and support our business community.
A Safer City
As Chair of the City's Public Safety Committee, Vice Mayor Garcia has provided strong, consistent leadership and oversight for our Long Beach Police and Fire Departments. He fought to fully fund public safety services and supported tough gang injunctions to take back our neighborhoods. Crime in Long Beach is at historic lows, with violent crime continuing to decrease citywide, and Long Beach is safer today than it has been in over 40 years. Vice Mayor Garcia also worked to expand after-school programs for youth to provide them with healthy and safe activities and alternatives to the street.
Economic Development that Works
Vice Mayor Garcia has been a champion for small business and economic growth. He facilitated over 80 business facade grants and invested in fixing and enhancing infrastructure in business corridors that had previously been neglected. His City Council District has seen incredible development over the last few years including the new Molina Healthcare development on Pine Avenue, the new Downtown Courthouse, expansion at the Port of Long Beach, new unique retail and restaurants, and the development of hundreds of units of homes, lofts, and quality apartments. Robert also initiated HireLB.com, a city job search engine for local workers that has connected hundreds of residents with potential employers in the past three years, and has been outspoken in calling for the reconfiguration of the Breakwater and the return of waves to our waters, which has the potential to bring thousands of tourists downtown.
New Parks & Open Space
As Councilman for the First District, Vice Mayor Garcia opened 7 new parks, 3 new community gardens, and 3 creative open spaces, improved and enhanced parks throughout the district, and expanded park and green space into new neighborhoods. He has secured funding from Sacramento and the Federal government to improve parks and add green space in some of our densest neighborhoods. Thanks to the efforts of Vice Mayor Garcia, over 300 new trees have been planted in the district, with more on the way this year. Vice Mayor Garcia understands that all Long Beach residents deserve access to safe and clean neighborhood parks.
Technology & Open Government
Vice Mayor Garcia has authored or led the way on every major technology initiative over the last 4 and a half years. He proposed and oversaw the creation of the "Go Long Beach" smart phone application, which has greatly improved code enforcement in the city. He also made sure free WiFi would be installed in our parks and libraries, created a technological innovation fund for the city, and authored the city's first open government policy. Vice Mayor Garcia’s initiative led to the first use of e-comments during City Council sessions, and the publication of contracts on line, to increase government transparency and accountability, as well as a huge improvement in the city’s use of social networking to stay connected with the residents they represent.
Arts and Culture
Vice Mayor Garcia’s arts initiative greatly improved the city’s relationship to our local artists, musicians and cultural entrepreneurs. The art and music scene in Long Beach has long been one of Southern California’s best kept secrets – but we must not keep it a secret any longer. The Vice Mayor’s push to open up more areas for art and music, and give businesses more flexibility – and lower local taxes and fees – has helped revitalize the cultural life of Long Beach, especially for new and young artists who want to create and sell their work locally. Arts and culture are one of our city’s great strengths, which is why Vice Mayor Garcia has worked to support art and artists in Long Beach.
Civil and Human Rights for all has been a top priority for Vice Mayor Garcia. He authored the groundbreaking Equal Benefits Ordinance that required large vendors to provide domestic partner benefits, and the Anti-Bullying Ordinance which ensures that staff at city after school programs are trained to identify and support children who are being bullied. He also worked to ensure that trangendered employees had equal health benefits, and led efforts to name the first park in America after Harvey Milk in Long Beach. Vice Mayor Garcia also sponsored resolutions in support of gay marriage and has been a strong advocate for civil rights for all.