As Vice Chair of the Federal Legislation Committee, I had the distinct honor of joining Mayor Garcia, Councilmembers Lena Gonzalez and Rex Richardson, Port of Long Beach Harbor Commission President Doug Drummond and CEO Jon Slangerup, and Long Beach Transit President and CEO Kenneth McDonald on March 18-20 for our first “Better Together” trip to the nation’s capital to advocate for Long Beach. Historically, leaders from our City departments and Council have taken separate trips; yet, this most recent experience demonstrated how together we are better positioned for success and for leveraging additional federal investments.
As I have shared with many of you over the past year, the Southern California region pays more in federal taxes than is distributed back to us through federal allocations and grants. We must strengthen our relationships in Washington, D.C., continually highlight to our nation’s leaders all that we have to offer, and make powerful arguments as to why our priorities, if funded, will improve Long Beach and the region.
Our meetings proved to be productive and beneficial, and together we were able to meet with Congressman Alan Lowenthal, Congresswoman Janice Hahn, the office of Majority Leader Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the Departments of Defense, Justice, Labor and Transportation, and other federal staff whose support is critical to receiving necessary funding to upgrade our aging transportation infrastructure including roads and bridges, stimulate job growth and business programs in the region in wake of the C-17 facility closure, and expand public safety programs centered on violence prevention and community policing.
Maintaining these established lines of communication over the next several weeks as appropriations are made, bills are amended in committee, and grant applications are accepted will be critical to our ability to fund Long Beach initiatives. Thank you to everyone who provided input and feedback in public forums, at committee meetings, and through calls and emails to my office leading up to this noteworthy trip.