LONG BEACH — One Long Beach resident is running unopposed to fill a soon-to-be vacant city council position, and a current councilman has been put forward by supporters as a write-in candidate for mayor.
Tye Caldwell, who currently works along the Long Beach Peninsula as a tow truck driver and volunteer firefighter, is running to fill council position No. 2, currently held by mayoral candidate Mark Perez.
Del Murry, who currently serves on the council and is officially running unopposed to retain his seat, has become the center of a write-in campaign for mayor. The write-in candidacy began earlier this month when Murry’s wife started a Facebook page calling for voters to choose Murry over the two official mayoral candidates.
Caldwell, the only newcomer vying for a city council position, said he has considered running for about five years, but decided now was finally the right time.
“It’s something I felt like I wanted to do, and a lot of people talked to me and said that they’d like me to be on there, so I did it,” he said.
Working as a captain in the fire department has helped prepare him for a role as a councilman, he added.
“I know a lot about how the city works,” he said. “I’ve dealt with every city employee and know how budgets and all that stuff works. I’m pretty sure I can ease into a lot of it pretty smoothly.”
Caldwell said he doesn’t have the experience other current council members do, but added that being a younger member of the council will give him a different perspective than his more experienced counterparts can offer.
“I do care about this city and I care about everybody that’s in it, and I’d like to see it go forward in a good, healthy way,” he said.
Caldwell said tourism is still one of the most important issues facing the city. Bringing people to the city, and making sure they have enough to keep them occupied while they’re here is important, he said. He added that he would like to see some of the attractions, including the go-kart track and amusement park in the city, cleaned up and improved to continue to draw tourists into the city.
“The local businesses, I know a lot of them think they’re getting left behind and the tourists are taking more of their pie, but without the tourists the businesses can’t be here,” he said.
After the election, Caldwell said he plans to look deeper into city budgets and issues before deciding what changes he’d like to promote as a councilman.
Public records show that Caldwell was arrested for driving under the influence in 2008. His charge was later downgraded to first-degree negligent driving.
“It was a stupid move on my part,” he said. “It hasn’t happened since and it’s never going to happen again.”
Murry, who was elected to his council seat in 2011, considered running for mayor officially this year, but opted to retain his council seat for the time being instead.
The push for Murry as a write-in candidate came after he chose to run for his council seat and continued as people began seeing the current campaign for mayor start to shift from focusing on issues facing the city to, instead, paying more attention to the character of the candidates, he said.
Murry emphasized himself as an advocate for the city’s younger population. Long Beach hasn’t done enough to take care of the young people living here, and in particular the city’s teenagers, Murry said.
“One of the main things that — when I advocate for youth in this town — is to keep these kids happy, keep them off drugs and let’s not have a school shooting here, and I think a lot of that starts with taking care of your kids, giving them places to go,” he said.
One of the issues Murry has taken to heart during his time on the council is the building of a skate park in the city. The park would not only provide Long Beach residents with a place to go, but provide another tourist draw, he said. Around 10 businesses have already pledged their support for the park and, if he were elected mayor, the skate park would be in Long Beach within 2016, Murry said.
Murry added that maintaining the city’s parks in general is a priority. Improving sports parks would allow the city to host sports tournaments, which would in turn bring in more visitors, he said.
His involvement in the community, including his role as a youth sports coach, provides him with a different perspective than other council members, he said, including putting him more in touch with the working class citizens of the city.
He added that his main focus as a councilman is the citizens of Long Beach, and maintaining quality of life for city residents. That includes issues like water bills, which Murry said he has voted against raising in the past, and bringing curb-side recycling into the city.
“What makes me different is, I think, I’m more in tune with the citizens and I know the business community out here,” he said. “I work with them all the time.”