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Los Angeles County, CA June 6, 2006 Election
Smart Voter

Brian Ulaszewski Localizes Politics in Long Beach.

By Brian Alan Ulaszewski

Candidate for City Council; City of Long Beach; District 2

This information is provided by the candidate
If you want them to pay attention to you and your community's needs, you have to give them reason to do so.
Localizing Politics in Long Beach: Getting Street-Level in the Second District By Greggory Moore

If all politics is local (as was once asserted by former House Speaker "Tip" O'Neill), it is the actions on the streets that agglomerate to form the whole of our political reality. With this in mind, on May 6 {open} hosted a screening of Street Fight, the Academy Award-nominated documentary about the highly contentious 2002 Newark, New Jersey mayoral race between four-term incumbent Sharpe James and 32-year-old councilman Cory Booker. But the screening doubled as a chance to meet Brian Ulaszewski, a candidate for the vacant Second Council District seat--fitting, considering that Ulaszewski shares many of admirable qualities evinced by Booker, including running a substance-based campaign and heavy involvement in the community he hopes to represent. {open} co-owner Sť Reed is an enthusiastic supporter. "I'd never seen any of the other candidates at any event in the district until they became candidates," she reports. "Brian shops here, he eats here...He is in the district and of the district."
Reed, who is also president of the East Village Arts District, first became aware of Ulaszewski when she heard him speak at a Central Project Area Committee (CPAC) meeting, where she was struck by the depth of the information he communicated. This initial impression was only buttressed as she got to know him. "There are a lot of people who care about being involved in community issues who don't know their stuff," she says. "Brian knows his stuff." She offers as an example Ulaszewski's proposal for Armory Park. An architect by trade, Ulaszewski conceived of the idea on his walk to work, which takes him by the intersection of 6th St., Martin Luther King Ave., and Alamitos Ave. His plan (which can be viewed in detail at http://www.brianulb.com/ap.htm) would result in both the creation of a one-acre park without necessitating the acquisition of new property; and the rectification of the most dangerous intersection in Long Beach. Ulaszewski has gotten the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) to budget $1 million for construction, and the City is currently in the final stages of an intensive traffic study of the site. "That sort of initiative is unique, to say the least," says Reed. "That's what it's going to take to get our city where it needs to go."
For the 29-year-old Ulaszewski, it started in 2002, when he bought a home in the Craftsman Village Historic District (i.e., the area between 7th and 10th, Walnut and Orange). His hands-on approach rippled outward in concentric circles: he worked first on his home, then on his neighborhood, then on the district and city. This eventually led to his taking positions on the Cultural Heritage Commission, the Long Beach Design Forum, CPAC, and the Arts Council for Long Beach, among other community groups. And when Dan Baker resigned his City Council seat, with the encouragement of Reed and many others, Ulaszewski decided to take another step towards making Long Beach the city he thinks it can be. His ethos is a sound bite backed by action: "I'm not going to wait for someone else to do it."
After the film, Ulaszewski spoke briefly, although he was clearly more interested in personal interaction than in reading prepared remarks. Among the topics covered was the need for more affordable housing in the area. As a case in point, he noted that salaries for college faculty are generally consistent nationwide--and so California universities have trouble competing for professors, considering the high cost of living here. To address this issue, Ulaszewski has brought CSU Long Beach and the City to the table, and now they are looking at university faculty housing at two locations in Long Beach. "Keeping that sort of intellectual capital in Long Beach is important," he says. "The retention of quality faculty is important for Cal State. This is a truly win-win relationship."
Ulaszewski also stressed that he favors a more holistic style of governing than that which he has seen on the Council. Generally speaking, he feels the current councilmembers tend to treat their districts as isolated from one another, all looking out primarily for their own interests, whereas he would hope to help the Council move in the direction of inclusiveness and cooperation, adopting the view that anything that is a problem for one district is a problem for all of them. (Considering that the Second District is where the money is, should he win, Ulaszewski's "share and share alike" stance should be welcomed by his councilmates.)
The {open} mailer for the political evening included a reminder that "local elections have a significantly greater impact on our day-to-day life than national elections...and yet only about 3,000 people (5-10%) vote in the Second District City Council races"; and that "one of the most recent council elections was decided by FIFTEEN VOTES (yeah: 15)." Apropos, Ulaszewski stressed the need to get out and vote on June 6 (and in all elections). "Elected officials don't bother with neighborhoods with low voter turnout," he notes. "If you want them to pay attention to you and your community's needs, you have to give them reason to do so."
Along with co-owner Shea Gauer, Reed has long used {open} (144 Linden; accessopen.com) as an area hub, clearly putting community ahead of profit--e.g., the Street Fight screening was free (like virtually all the events they put on) and included drinks and popcorn--and so her support of Ulaszewski should not be dismissed as cronyism. "We don't always agree," she says. "In fact, we disagree on quite a few issues. But we are able to have that dialog." She names his willingness to listen to a variety of opinions as one of his greatest assets. "He considers each idea on its merits. [If elected to the Council,] he would do his homework, ask questions, and come up with innovative solutions to problems. If he doesn't win, it will be business as usual."
In Street Fight, Cory Booker criticizes his opponent for being more interested in the "symbols of a renaissance, not the substance of a renaissance." A perusal of Brian Ulaszewski's detailed Website (brianulb.com) makes it clear that he is a candidate of substance.

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