LONG BEACH - Another political season has arrived in Long Beach, something that may cause voters drained by last year's presidential election to do a weary double take.
Potential election fatigue or no, on Jan. 1 City Clerk Larry Herrera opened the election cycle for the Long Beach primary nominating election scheduled for April 8, 2014. Candidates can now file paperwork with the city or the Secretary of State's Office to raise campaign money, though none have yet done so, according to Elections Bureau Manager Poonam Davis.
In 2014, the mayor and odd-numbered council districts will be up for election. The positions of city prosecutor, city attorney and city auditor will also be filled, along with the odd-numbered Long Beach Unified School District Board of Education and Long Beach Community College District seats.
Several present and former council members are already considering runs at mayor.
Key to the field are the future plans of Mayor Bob Foster, who was first elected in 2006 and has led Long Beach through a period of economic uncertainty.
Foster, who did not respond to requests for comment last week, said during an appearance last month on "Straight Talk" with Art Levine that he will not pursue state office in spite of forming a committee for treasurer.
What he may pursue, however, is a write-in campaign for a third mayoral term.
"I love being mayor. I think I've done a very good job for the city," Foster said. "I'm thinking very hard and giving it a lot of thought as to whether I'll run again.
He committed to reaching a decision before the end of last year.
The idea of former Councilwoman Rae Gabelich challenging Foster for mayor in 2014 has political observers running for cover or a good spot to watch. The pair frequently and passionately disagreed on spending and other issues before Gabelich termed out last year.
Gabelich told the Press-Telegram she continues to contemplate a campaign.
"I'm torn, certainly," she said. "I'm really still trying to balance my life out and figure out what I really need to do for the next eight years."
Gabelich said she would decide her political future by the end of January.
Termed-out 5th District Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske has experience running for higher office, losing a congressional election by less than 1 percent of the vote in 2000 to Republican Rep. Steve Horn.
Last year, Schipske scuttled a run at an Assembly seat after Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, announced she would seek re-election.
Asked about her future plans, Schipske dispensed with the typical political tiptoeing.
"I'm not being coy," she said. "I'm looking at all kinds of options now."
A bid for mayor or Assembly are among the possibilities, said Schipske, adding, "I'm definitely not going to do a write-in for a third term."
Schipske put the deadline for her decision after January.
Two other potential candidates for mayor, 1st District Councilman Robert Garcia and 2nd District Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal, have not yet publicly made decisions on the race. Lowenthal said she's not excluding anything, "including simply serving out my current term on City Council."
Garcia didn't appear to rule out a run for higher office in a statement he provided last week.
"Right now I'm focused on completing pension reform with our city employees," Garcia said. "I'll be making an announcement about my future plans soon after that."
Though he's coming off a hard fought, unsuccessful congressional campaign, 3rd District Councilman Gary DeLong said it's hard not to think about seeking higher office again.
Running for mayor is "least likely," said DeLong, who like Schipske, is termed out in 2014.
He views a new state Senate District that includes parts of eastern Long Beach and more conservative western Orange County as potential fertile ground since he has name recognition there after last year's race.
Another congressional bid is also possible, DeLong said.
"Part of the process is watching how the situation evolves in both Sacramento and Washington," DeLong said.
One official who is not up for election next year, 4th District Councilman Patrick O'Donnell, stirred a political hornet's nest last month when he formed an Assembly fundraising committee for the 2014 election cycle. The filing was made Dec. 19, according to the Secretary of State's Office.
Whether O'Donnell, a high school teacher, would abandon his council seat - and cost taxpayers a special election - was a question raised by his opposition during his historic re-election to a third-term last year. No previous council candidate had won a third stay in office since voters instituted term limits in 1992.