LONG BEACH, Calif. — Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson leads the seventh most populous city in California, which is well known for its waterfront attractions, including the RMS Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific.

It’s also home to the Port of Long Beach, one of the world’s busiest seaports, and a major gateway for trade between the United States and Asia. 

In 2014, Richardson became the youngest member ever elected to the Long Beach City Council when he was just 30 years old.

He is also the city’s first Black mayor.

On this week’s “In Focus SoCal,” host Tanya McRae sits down with Rex Richardson, and discussed his upbringing, focusing on the city’s next generation, and how he’s tackling some critical issues.

Mayor Richardson was born in Illinois, where his father was in the Air Force and his mother worked for GM. When his parents divorced, his mother moved 11-year-old Rex and his two siblings to California and they settled in Covina. 

“When we got to Southern California, we struggled to make it work. But we came here for opportunity. We lived in a two-bedroom apartment in Covina and my mom had one bedroom, my sister and brother shared a bedroom, and I slept on the couch. But it was it was a great time! We all worked. I worked part time at Jack in the Box, and my sister worked part-time at the local stationery shop, and my mom worked, and she paid the rent, my sister paid the light bill, and I paid the phone bill. And together we figured it out,” said Mayor Richardson.

Richardson also discussed being mayor of the city where he and his wife are raising their two daughters and being Long Beach’s first mayor with small children.

“I place a real focus on youth opportunities for youth and youth development. We’ve created The Office of Youth Development. Our budget has invested more in youth than at any time in our city’s history. We just opened a few months ago a new Youth Opportunity Workforce Center that provides opportunities for youth to connect to the economic opportunities in our city. By investing in our youth, we invest in our entire future,” he shared.

After declaring a state of emergency on homelessness in Long Beach in early 2023, Mayor Richardson says the city has been very proactive in its approach to the many factors leading to the crisis that almost every city in Southern California is dealing with, and dealing with the many facets of homelessness is at the forefront of his 2024 agenda. 

I’m really focused on expanding our capacity to deal with the mental health challenges in our communities,” said Richardson. “We need to be coupled with mental health providers that can get them on the road to mental health. But that also means having the facilities and the resources to do so.”

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