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Meet Dr. Sharifa Batts, running for Long Beach City Council, District 8

Sharifa currently serves as a Long Beach City Equity and Human Relations Commissioner and has spent almost 30 years living in her district. Along with that, she comes from a long line of Long Beach residents— four generations of them! She says she’s proud to call herself a “Long Beachian”. Through her lifelong involvement in her city as a parent, volunteer, and advocate, she has gotten a unique perspective about the challenges and opportunities within the 8th district.

Sharifa pointed out that while parts of her district have been historically neglected, recent redistricting has opened up opportunities for these areas to become the center of focus and receive much needed attention and support. Sharifa’s family is very intertwined with the 8th district due to their long-time history of living in the area. Because of this, Sharifa says she has a deep passion for transforming her city and addressing the challenges that lie ahead for her and her neighbors. She is hopeful that she is already starting to see progress along Market Street as sidewalks are being repaired in the 8th District and other areas of downtown Long Beach that were deemed unsafe 20 years ago are now considered safe. Being able to spend time in her community with her family and grandchildren and to feel safe gives Sharifa strong hope for the future! While she acknowledges that change does not happen overnight, her future goal is to help Long Beach be strong, safe, prosperous, and economically sustainable.

Some of Sharifa’s main focuses in her campaign are to secure good paying jobs for her community members, to increase public safety, and to revitalize the local economy. She places specific emphasis on practical solutions like supporting small businesses and reducing homelessness by supporting the creation of more affordable housing. In terms of infrastructure concerns, Sharifa told us that the sidewalks and potholes in her community could really use some love and care (AKA repairs). Another need in her community is a stronger environmental initiative to tackle the air quality issues that have always disproportionately impacted marginalized black and brown communities. Improving air quality would mean less asthma and breathing problems, longer life spans, and access to the quality of life that every single human deserves. While speaking about her goals to improve the environmental standards within her community, Sharifa told us that a City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services conducted a study in July 2013 which showed the African American community has an 8 to 12 year decrease in life expectancy compared to the other groups within Long Beach. Additionally, there is a 5 to 6 year disparity among residents residing in North Long Beach (zip code 90805) at 75.6 years, compared to the Southeast and East (zip codes 90804 and 90808) at 81.7 and 81.5 years. Access to a long, healthy life should never be determined by area code and circumstance.

Security is something that Sharifa wants for her community members. She doesn’t want them to have to worry about things like healthcare and basic services on top of increasing utility bills. Partnering with the police department to improve the perception of police officers is another goal of Sharifa’s. She believes that having police officers participate with community events will build connections and create that positive connection that is currently missing. Funding police departments is also an important goal of Sharifa’s as she points out that overworked police officers with a lack of resources are more likely to cause more tension in the community by being stressed and short fused. In terms of housing, there is a lack of affordable housing in the 8th district. Sharifa wants to see families stay in Long Beach and create generational wealth and be able to pass on homes to their children and grandchildren. In order to do this, residents need to have access to well paying jobs, safe communities, and ways to invest in and give back to their communities.

Sharifa says the 8th district needs a champion— and she knows that she can be that person. Her district needs someone who has truly experienced life within this community and has come to understand all of the challenges of every single resident. Sharifa has the experience to guide the future of the 8th district. She also understands housing challenges as she has been both a renter and a homebuyer in Long Beach. Sharifa recalls the time when she first bought a home and had to rent out multiple rooms to family members to help cover her payments. She points out that this is something many homebuyers go through— especially with inflation and rising property costs. While affordable housing initiatives are rising, Sharifa thinks they can do a lot more. She explained to us that recently, 87 affordable housing units opened up in her city and just a few days after the application opened, there were over 3,500 applications. Sharifa sees this as a prime example of the extent of the need for affordable housing and the lack thereof within her community. One of her goals is to improve the homelessness issue within her community and work to house those who need the assistance.

Sharifa is deeply involved within her community and is a valuable part of many community initiatives. She is a member of the new 2024 cohort with Leadership Long Beach and is the Vice President of Athletic Scholarship for Long Beach City College! She has even created a scholarship at LBCC for student athletes or students aiming to have a career in the STEM field. Her work gives students the support that they need to create the future that they deserve. She also acts as the VP of programs at the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and focuses on making sure there are equitable opportunities for women. She is also the vice-chair of Programs & Special Events Committee on the YMCA Fairfield board, in addition to being a St. Mary’s Community board member. Aside from being a community protector and advocate her whole life, Sharifa is also an athlete! What can’t she do?! She even went to the Olympic trials in the 400m Hurdles and is passionate about staying strong and healthy throughout her life. Sharifa is looking forward to working with her neighbors and community members to find ways to improve their lives and to create a better future for the city that she loves.

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