Could Gerrie Schipske Be Long Beach's First LGBT Mayor?

The councilwoman stands on the cusp of making that title a reality. But getting there hasn't been easy

Could Gerrie Schipske Be Long Beach's First LGBT Mayor?

"My dad and mom met at the Pike," Gerrie Schipske began. For the broadly accomplished, 62-year-old, Long Beach City Councilwoman, that was the beginning—the chance interaction of a couple of teenagers on the bright, bustling midway of a classic old amusement park in 1948. Of course, even without such a personal connection, mentioning the Pike is always a good icebreaker in Long Beach. Judging from the sentiment that fluttered through the banquet room at McKenna's as Schipske opened her address to the Women Lawyers of Long Beach a few weeks ago, the image of finding love at the Pike may still be the city's favorite meet-cute, more than three decades after the park's 1979 demolition.

Schipske grew up in what was left of this Long Beach, a city that people variously strain to remember, struggle to imagine, find themselves yearning for, regard as a Golden Age, hold up as the standard the city should strive to meet again. She was born in the Naval Hospital, nowadays known as the Veterans Administration Hospital. She was baptized at St. Lucy's Catholic Church on the west side of town, the one in which her parents were married, not far from Silverado Park, where they had their reception. Her family shopped on Pine Avenue when it was the center of a retail district full of department stores and specialty shops. She read the Independent and Press-Telegram. Schipske is proud of her deep Long Beach roots and delights in dropping the names of the architectural masterpieces, historic people, landmark places, unique traditions—the icons, so many long gone, but some still around—that gave context to the milestones her life was passing, that opened up options and encouraged her to focus on the future she would inhabit.

"I've known I wanted to be in politics—to be an elected official—since I was voted student-body president of my high school," declares Schipske, whose desire has always been obvious, but whose Election Day results haven't been so gratifying . . . until recently. Schipske has been running for political offices—mostly among assorted state assembly and congressional districts—since 1988, and after being crushed by Orange County Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher in the 2002 edition of his biannual Waltz Back to Washington, her record as a finalist was 1 win and 5 losses. Since then, however, Schipske's neighbors in Long Beach's Fifth District have twice elected her to represent them on the City Council—by a nail-biting margin in 2006, then via landslide in 2010.

Gerrie Schipske
John Gilhooley
Gerrie Schipske
Schipske speaking at a rally for marriage equality
Courtesy of Gerrie Schipske
Schipske speaking at a rally for marriage equality

Was that a referendum on Schipske's solid Our Town background? Or was there something in her résumé, Schipske's chronicle of her various jobs and responsibilities—with the Central Intelligence Agency, as the City of Long Beach's first public-information officer, registered nurse, attorney, author of three books about Long Beach history, as a member of the California Medical Board, as head of the Orange County Democrat Party, as a foster parent, as the adoptive parent of three now-adult children, as a grandmother—that reads as though Jack Kerouac helped her with it? Schipske's about to find out.

On March 21, she launched her campaign for mayor. The primary election is next April, and if she gets more than 50 percent of the votes in that primary, Gerrie Schipske would be the mayor of Long Beach . . . meaning, therefore, that Gerrie Schipske would be the first openly gay mayor of Long Beach . . . because . . . inasmuch as . . . basically . . . as we have all known, probably since we have known of her, Gerrie Schipske is gay.

Why does all that feel so weird to say?

Maybe because we haven't had any practice?

My first conversation with Schipske was in October 2002, a month before her Election Day mismatch against Rohrabacher. We met in her campaign headquarters, a rented office on the fringe of an old Long Beach shopping center, directly above a beauty college. We went into a windowless room, sat on metal folding chairs and talked—starting with topics suggested by my questions, then traveling along some tangents until we arrived at some of her talking points. The central theme was how Schipske's campaign—despite less-than-1-percent losses to congressmen Steve Kuykendall in 1996 and Steve Horn in 2000—was being financially abandoned by the Democratic Party and its PACs, and thus not considered for endorsements by traditionally supportive organizations because of a bipartisan redistricting deal among California legislators to protect incumbents. The conversation touched on oil drilling, health and education, automotive-fuel efficiency, job creation, terrorism, sewage treatment, and the number of flights at Long Beach Airport. Lesbians, gays and bisexuals were mentioned, but in most cases, their issues were covered by larger umbrellas.

Schipske never mentioned she is a lesbian. I didn't ask her about it. I never mentioned I'm a straight male. She didn't ask me about it.

It's been the same for the past 11 years, with only two exceptions that come to mind. Two years ago, when public opinion seemed to take the side of Robert Garcia—Long Beach's other openly gay council member—in a difference of opinion with Schipske over the naming of a downtown square that's now called Harvey Milk Park, Schipske quipped, "I hope they don't revoke my gay card." And early this year, when the opening of the Historical Society of Long Beach's exhibition, "Coming Out In Long Beach," drew a large number of elected officials, Schipske observed, "At one time, politicians couldn't be seen with us; now, they can't be seen without us."

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25 comments
normru
normru

Gerrie, there's a huge pro marijuana vote in Long beach. Many remember ur stance on the dispensaries. If u lose 5-10% of that vote u lose the election. We all know u were leading the charge along w/Shannon. Yes u were part of the 8-1 vote but many of the others would have worked on a comprimise.

Look I know ur a highly intelligent person but many of the voters that were hurt by ur comments on the dispensary issue.. I believe this iis going to be a problem for u going forward. I really believe ur out of step with most voters in Long Beach on this.

deadjogger
deadjogger

The Naval Hospital referred to in the article is not the current Veteran's Administration Hospital near CSULB.  There used to be a Naval Hospital at the site of the current Long Beach Town Center site near the 605 and Carson.

James Rose
James Rose

Gerrie schipske is just like the rest of LB city council - lining their pockets with money. She also voted to shut down all medical marijuana dispensaries. The only thriving new businesses in long beach filling our vacant store fronts and bringing money into our city.

babybird8
babybird8

u go Gerrie Schipske, you have come a long way-don't stop now.

James Rose
James Rose

Only ugly people want to be politicians.

Oldschool Rocker
Oldschool Rocker

I don't mind a lesbian for Long Beach mayor, but why can't it be a hot lesbian? Why does it have to be a fat, bull-dikey, musty-pussy lookin' lesbo?

myming
myming

while no one is perfect, she comes close.

many fine achievements !

paullucas714
paullucas714 topcommenter

She has a lot of explaining to do to the LGBT community on why she chooses to be a tyrant in the area of medical marijuana.

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

I am not being racist or not being hatred here but frankly I don't care about the LGBT crowd because it's vile behavior and they can't have babies the natural way anyway and Sodom and Gammorah were destroyed over it, so there.

"If a man lies down with anothe man it is a vile thing". - So they know that they are wrong but continue in thier vile behaviors anyway. 

egschipske
egschipske

@deadjogger  Sorry the Naval Hospital was located at 7th which is now the Veterans Hospital. The Naval Hospital was moved from 7th to the Carson site and then later closed.

egschipske
egschipske

@James Rose  So Mr. Rose, have you ever looked at my campaign reports or my form 700? Prey tell how am I "lining my pockets?" Unlike my colleagues who took money from the med pot owners and then voted to close them, I did not.

Johnny_K
Johnny_K

@Oldschool RockerOne look at Oldschool Rocker's facebook photos and you evidently tell that he fucks fat, bull-dikey, musty-pussy lookin' bitches.

egschipske
egschipske

@paullucas714  Hmmm. This comment puzzles me since Vice Mayor Garcia actually made the motion that closed the med pot places down..and it was supported 8-1. I ain't that powerful Paul.

egschipske
egschipske

@tongue_twister_for_t  Never said anything about two women. In fact, Jesus never said anything about the entire topic. Guess he didn't think it was too bad.

SickSnail
SickSnail

@tongue_twister_for_t "I am not being racist or not being hatred here...."

No, but you are doing a great job of being ignorant. And I'm not even remotely referring to your opinion about homosexuality. "
I am not being racist"..... well, duh. There is no reference to race so congratulations. You are not being racist. "not being hatred"..... being hatred? WTF kind of grammar is that, you moron? As if people with your views didn't have a tough enough time towing that line, it will always be an impossible task when they have to drag idiots like you along.

aliberaltexan
aliberaltexan

tongue twister:  You are full of sh*t period.

MaherSawaf
MaherSawaf

Seriously you should try it, you won't regret it ;)

paullucas714
paullucas714 topcommenter

@egschipske 


Gerrie here is your response when I asked you about the comparrison between Liquor Stores and Tobacco Shops in relation to cannabis collectives;

Gerrie Schipske "Until marijuana is made legal and growing is strictly regulated there is no comparison with liquor stores and smoke shops. Go for it. I am out of office in 18 months."
4 minutes ago · Like

This comment was in a thread you and I had on your page some months ago. I find it shocking to be honest. By that logic, until Same Sex Marriage is legal at the federal level but it is legal in CA since the Federal Govt doesnt recognize the legality of cannabis in CA at the Federal Level but it is legal under state law. Am I wrong to thin that in this situation, just as it is with Same Sex Marriage, especially since medical marijuana was brought to  us in the search for compassion for AIDS patients, we should be counting on you to fight for the rights of Long Beach and CA residents to have unfettered access to medical marijauna? And to go even further; shouldnt we feel safe that an elected member of the LGBT community will stand by the rights of CA residents to get unfettered access to medical marijuana? And as  nurse, shouldnt you be a warrior for the rights of seriously ill patients get unfettered access to medical marijuana?

Who the heck are you Gerrie Schipskie? For reals man?

paullucas714
paullucas714 topcommenter

@egschipske@paullucas714 

Gerrie here is your response when I asked you about the comparison between Liquor Stores and Tobacco Shops in relation to cannabis collectives;

Gerrie Schipske "Until marijuana is made legal and growing is strictly regulated there is no comparison with liquor stores and smoke shops. Go for it. I am out of office in 18 months."
4 minutes ago · Like

This comment was in a thread you and I had on your page some months ago. I find it shocking to be honest. By that logic, until Same Sex Marriage is legal at the federal level but it is legal in CA since the Federal Govt doesnt recognize the legality of cannabis in CA at the Federal Level but it is legal under state law. Am I wrong to thin that in this situation, just as it is with Same Sex Marriage, especially since medical marijuana was brought to  us in the search for compassion for AIDS patients, we should be counting on you to fight for the rights of Long Beach and CA residents to have unfettered access to medical marijuana? And to go even further; shouldnt we feel safe that an elected member of the LGBT community will stand by the rights of CA residents to get unfettered access to medical marijuana? And as  nurse, shouldnt you be a warrior for the rights of seriously ill patients get unfettered access to medical marijuana?

Who the heck are you Gerrie Schipskie? For reals man?

paullucas714
paullucas714 topcommenter

@egschipske @paullucas714  

Gerrie, you have done everything in hour power to stymie, hinder harrass, and confound any semblance of a workable scheme to facilitate the obtai8ning of medical cannabis to ALL Patients in your city. That includes those too ill with HIV, AIDS, Cancer, Diabetes etc etc etc. This is especially troubling in light that you are a medical professional. 

Think of it as akin to Marriage equality. Apparently on the books, one can marry a member of the same gender. But at every turn, the states or Federal Govt are in the practice to stymie, hinder harass, and confound the ability of ALL individuals to exercise that right. 

You voted against the dispensaries and worked to shut them all down. Even if it was as slight as turning a blind eye to the civil rights violations and outright fraud conducted by the agents of the city who are under your purview, this is akin to "Silence equals consent". 

In a conversation you and I had, you lamented the perception that the clients of dispensaries are "Stoners" and the operators as "drug Dealers".  Have you  done anything to  facilitate the acquisition of medical marijuana for the community members who are "truly Ill" and In need of Cannabis"? This seems to tbe the mantra of the prohibitionists such as yourself as I always hear from  the plikes of you that you are so in favor and support of those who "truly need cannabis" to use it.

So now my question for you is this; Since youve chosen to throw the babies out with the provrebial bathwater; how the heck do you propose to demonstrate your support for the LGBT community by taking effective steps on behalf of the city in support of the LGBT community to get the medicine they need in their hands without fear of prosecution from the authorities in LB Uniforms or under the cross deputizing of the Federal Agencies you call in like some sort of Pontius Pilot to allow you to wash your hands of this great violation of our rights under state law?

Maybe we should Ask Mellisa Etheridge a cancer Survivor how she feels about supporting your campaign when you have such a horrible track record on the issue of Medicinal Cannabis?

Will you tell her like you told me "oh well, go for it Im termed out anyway". Do you remember telling me that? IN WRITING!!??


paullucas714
paullucas714 topcommenter

@egschipske @tongue_twister_for_t  

What would Jesus do if the Magi were taking the medical marijuana away from the Leppars because although it was legal under Hebrew Law, Rome forbid it?

 
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