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CSULB lecturer honored at the White House

Gerrie Schipske was awarded for her work on improving transparency in Long Beach.

CSULB lecturer honored at the White House

CSULB

Gerrie Schipske

Long Beach City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Gerrie Schipske has been honored by the White House for her initiatives to open up the city.

Schipske, a part-time lecturer at Cal State Long Beach in the health care and administration department, was honored alongside 14 others at the White House on July 23 for her work on improving transparency in city government.

Known for her “Open Up Long Beach” initiative and blog of the same name, Schipske was honored as a Champion of Change for being the first elected official in the city to disclose her calendar, communicate daily through e-mail and social media and keep a blog about updates, city documents and records.

“[This] was not only an honor for me, it was an honor for Long Beach, and I’m really proud this happened,” Schipske said.

The Champions of Change program is a weekly event created by President Barack Obama under his “Winning the Future” initiative, according to the White House website. The initiative recognizes dedicated individuals, businesses and organizations that are making a positive impact in their communities, according to the website.

For the program, the White House conducts a two-hour webcast featuring a panel and audience. The webcasts are streamed live each week.

At the White House, Schipske and the 14 other Champions spoke about what they have done in their communities through “open government.”

During the panel, Schipske said she began addressing the lack of transparency in government due to the shortage of print media and that she found locals were “hungry for information” about city government.

Janice Frates, a professor in the health care and administration department, said Schipske’s push for more openness and accountability might have made some council members uncomfortable.

“I don’t think that they necessarily work as hard or believe in as much open government as Gerrie [Schipske] does,” she said.

Schipske also used three words at the panel to give advice to someone who wants to work on civic engagement: open, transparency, and accountability.

“I think [government transparency] has a big impact on people because it gives voters [and the] people who run the city the information they need to be able to participate,” Schipske said.

Schipske is one of nine Long Beach City Council members, in addition to Mayor Bob Foster.  She was elected to the Long Beach City College Board of Trustees in 1992 and has been a councilmember for the fifth district in Long Beach since 2006. She is serving her second term.

In the race for Long Beach mayor, Schipske is competing with six other candidates, including former NFL player Damon Dunn, Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal, Long Beach City College Trustee Doug Otto and current Vice Mayor Robert Garcia, according to public records. The mayoral election will take place on April 8.

Schipske said her White House honor will not necessarily aid her run for mayor; instead, it’s more of “the icing on the cake.”

“The cake is what I’ve been doing for a long time,” she said.

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