Former City Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske has entered the Long Beach mayoral race.
Mayor Robert Garcia said last month that he is running for Congress, making the mayor seat up for grabs.
Schipske was among several candidates running for the city’s District 5 council seat, but the new redistricting maps did not include her residence, meaning she is not eligible to run.
Schipske, 71, broke barriers as the city’s first lesbian councilwoman (2006-2014) and first lesbian to run for mayor (2013).
Schipske and her wife, Flo Pickett, have been a couple 42 years.
Schipske announced Thursday that she is running for mayor. If elected, Schipske will be the city’s first lesbian mayor.
“I am running for mayor to create a coalition for Long Beach progress that engages and collaborates with residents while insisting our city be more transparent and results-oriented,” Schipske said in a statement.
Schipske has been involved with Long Beach politics more than 20 years. She started as a Long Beach City college trustee from 1992 to 1996.
Schipske is a long-time advocate for government transparency. She was the first Long Beach official to publish her schedule and personally brought residents behind the scenes and into city service locations including the police dispatch center, water treatment plant, disaster preparedness center, and the waste to energy refuse site.
President Barack Obama recognized Schipske in 2013 as a Champion for Change for Open Government for her city council work to make the city more open, accountable, and transparent.
If elected, Schipske said she will “introduce performance management goals for city departments and staff to achieve, or to trigger audits and changes when coming up short.”
Schipske, who calls herself a “community activist,” also fought the city after leaving office. She worked with residents and legal counsel to take on the City for placing an illegal tax on water department revenues and then passing the tax onto water ratepayers. Ratepayers have won at the trial and appellate levels with the courts ruling that the 12% transfer of revenues is an illegal tax on water services.
“Long Beach is where I was born, where I chose to raise my family, and where I have spent most of my life trying to make our community the best place in which to live and to work,” Schipske said
The primary election will take place June 7. If nobody wins a majority, the top two vote getters will advance to the general election Nov. 8.