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Long Beach City Councilman Steve Neal wants to “solve problems on a more regional level,” he said in an answer to why he’s vying for the 64th State Assembly District seat. Neal faces Compton Unified School District Board Member Micah Ali, Carson City Councilman Mike Gipson, and an engineer Prophet Walker but said he is “pretty confident” about his campaign. By Tuesday July 30, he had raised about $100,000 in campaign funds.
The 64th District, which is currently headed up by Isadore Hall (who will be termed out in 2014) encompasses parts of South Los Angeles and the South Bay area including Carson, Compton, Long Beach, Harbor Gateway and Watts.
“From the State Assembly I will be able to work collaboratively with the leaders of those cities that make up the district,” said Neal.
“[We can really focus] on how we can take a regional approach to address some of the problems that we all have, which are basically economic development, health care, education, public services and community involvement.”
Neal, a long time activist, is a board member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and assistant pastor of S.E.A.M. Faith Family Church. He is a recipient of the Californians for Justice Racial Justice Hero Award, the Pediatric Aids Community Activist award, the Harbor Area United Way Champion Diversity Award and the Communications Workers of America Community Service Award. He is also a former board member of the Los Angeles Emergency Food and Shelter Program, the Fairfield Family YMCA, and the Long Beach Freedom Schools program.
Neal was elected to the Long Beach City Council’s District 9 in 2010. While there he helped to create the Long Beach Business Alliance, spearheaded an annual jobs summit, created the Construction Workforce Outreach Partnership, Long Beach Foreclosure Registry Program and the Long Beach Liquor Store Modernization Program.
“I’m taking a leap of faith,” Neal told the Sentinel on Tuesday.
“I’m giving up what would be a sure thing, because I’m pretty sure I could be reelected the Long Beach City Council… but at the same time I really believe I could be a part of the [District’s] turnaround. I feel good about my chances.”
In fact, certain election rules would allow him to run for both Council reelection, which has an April/ June primary/general schedule- and the Assembly, which has a June/November schedule.
He told his constituents in Long Beach he would do either or, to spare them the cost of a special election if he wins the 64th seat. Despite his current position and his move toward the Assembly, Neal doesn’t look at himself as a politician. He wants to help his region regardless of the campaign’s outcome, he said.
“I’ve been a community activist for the last quarter century,” explained Neal.
“I would definitely still be very active in the community that I’ve been in and also in the broader community. [SCLC] would be an avenue for example. I’d be very active in the clergy community, so if I wasn’t serving in an elected capacity I would maybe serve as a commissioner on the Workforce Investment Board… things of that nature.
“There are different levels of involvement. So, no matter what happens I’m going to be an advocate for change in my communities.”