Long Beach voters overhauled the city council by ousting incumbents at a time the city is crafting a response to a state audit, seeking a permanent city manager and managing a budget amid a fiscal crisis.
Democratic candidates Karen McInnis and Elizabeth Treston were both elected to four-year terms after defeating council President Anissa Moore and council members Anthony Eramo and Chumi Diamond.
McInnis and Treston defeated Eramo and Diamond for the Democratic line in a June primary. Moore a registered Democrat, ran on the Republican ticket.
Republican candidate Michael Delury was leading Democratic candidate Ron Paganini by 79 votes for a two-year term, with 267 returned absentee ballots yet to be counted. Nassau election officials will begin counting ballots and affidavits next week. There are 209 absentee ballots requested that still can be counted if they are postmarked by Election Day and received by Nov. 12.
If Delury’s lead holds, he would be the first Republican elected in a decade. He is registered with the Independence Party, records show.
The new council members will join two incumbent Democrats, council Vice President John Bendo and Councilman Scott Mandel, who have two years remaining on their terms.
McInnis said residents were tired of the council’s inability to work together or provide answers to residents.
“I expect results and answers for the residents and accountability and transparency,” McInnis said. “It’s time to move forward, and we all need to work together. It’s the fresh start we all need. We have five committed people to work together as one governing body and committed to talking together.”
The new city council, which will take office in January, will be tasked with handling criminal investigations into the city’s payouts to current and former employees and the recommendations of a state audit that found more than $500,000 in improper payments were made to 10 employees, including former City Manager Jack Schnirman.
The sitting city council is planning to hire a law firm to respond to two state audits looking at the city’s finances and separation payments. City officials said a special meeting was not needed to hire the law firm, Ingerman Smith. The city has already tasked the attorneys to request another extension from the comptroller’s Nov. 11 deadline to respond to the audit. The city is not legally required to respond to the audit.
“If I could give the investigators and the FBI the key to open every drawer in City Hall I would to look into the wrongdoings of the past,” Treston said. “Currently I don’t have that legal authority.”
Separately, Treston and McInnis both said they want to start planning for next year’s budget and budgeting through the end of the fiscal year in June. They said the city needs to focus on finding an experienced city manager and examine the comptroller’s recommendations.