Luchadora Profile: Long Beach City Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce Focuses on Serving Working People

Many newly elected local public officials abandon their core beliefs when courted by lobbyists representing local business interests. The costlier the campaign, the more sway these lobbyists seem to have. Those business interests trolling the Long Beach City Port and local hospitality industry underestimated then-candidate Jeannine Pearce when she was running for the 2nd district seat. Now those special interests have discovered that she isn’t for sale.

Jeannine grew up in Pasadena, Texas, a suburb of Houston. This widely diverse ethnic community has always been exposed to the ravages of mother nature, especially recently. Because the industrial base of Houston is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the chemical and oil industry, the lower income residents trapped in that surrounding area are now more vulnerable to diseases not even named yet. The State of Texas has a long history of abject cruelty and violence towards its citizens of color, regularly siding with these gross polluting industries over quality-of-life issues stemming from its underprivileged citizenry living in or near industrial zoned areas. Memories of being impoverished in Texas are bleak.

Nevertheless, Jeannine’s resolve is reinforced by her childhood of uncertainty and trauma. Despite her adopted mother’s attempts to put her shoulder-to-the-wheel and push along, she suffered emotionally throughout her adult life, eventually succumbing to suicide in 2009. However, her mother’s expressive core values of equality, pride, compassion have been permanently etched into Jeannine’s heart and soul. Those qualities continue to shine in Jeannine’s determination to address social ills while she seeks a political means to solve everyday problems for working constituents in Long Beach City’s 2nd district.

This monumental task wasn’t trifling. It took Jeannine a decade to acquire her bachelor of arts degree from California State University at Long Beach (CSULB). She graduated at the top of her class. By recognizing the social class struggles endangered by unfettered capitalism and unregulated globalization, Jeannine was able to identify special interests that actively plot against working folks. The failure of elected officials to address the inequality, wage abuses, and the destruction of the environment have innate quality-of-life repercussions for everyone. This knowledge narrowed Jeannine’s focus. While still in college, Jeannine spent a summer in Chicago with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) volunteering to assist homecare workers organizing for better working conditions. The experience validated similar inhumane right-to-work environments that she witnessed back in Texas.  

Now educated about these right-to-work labor conditions, Jeannine decided to work as an organizer. Her first position as an organizer was with the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), where she organized alongside Hotel Workers in the Long Beach and surrounding communities.

Jeannine started Long Beach Rising, a civic engagement organization focused on getting disadvantaged communities to vote in local elections. In 2012, her efforts changed the Long Beach Hotel Workers community forever. Hotel worker living wages ballot initiatives passed with 64% of the vote. The city council then passed a language access policy, Labor Peace at the Airport and Convention Center along with Worker Retention. Jeannine’s organizing success prompted her to march with grocery workers, port drivers, and environmentalists focusing on the changing the lenient and vague Long Beach City and port policies. By disturbing the order of continuously lowering labor costs for the Long Beach Hotel industry, she helped unionize hotel workers and influenced city council campaigns to protect their civil liberties. Jeannine’s work led her to the Long Beach City council, and she was elected to Long Beach City’s 2nd District in June of 2016.  

“I never really expected to find myself in elected office, but I have always wanted to serve and fight for social justice, so here I am focusing on the needs of working people in Long Beach. As I see it, I wouldn’t be doing good for the people if big industries were happy with my record,” Jeannine said.

In the twenty months Jeannine has represented the 2nd district, the Long Beach City Council has been active protecting its local citizenry and their families from wage abuses, health abuses proliferated by the fast food industry and local law enforcement assistance assisting wrongful detention by the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). She remains a fierce advocate for the protection of civil liberties for Long Beach residents.

Ordinance 17-0027 amended the Long Beach Municipal code by adding Chapter 8.17 relating to beverages served to children in restaurants. This was a big political step forward in identifying the root causes of childhood obesity and its connection to Type 2 diabetes and other ailments. This ordinance requires restaurants to offer healthier beverages to children instead of sugary drinks. It does not prohibit serving soda or other beverages to children, but the default beverage must be a healthier option.

“The goal here is to reduce the availability to sugary beverages for children. As a mom, this is important for me. Our kids are bombarded with ads for unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks, so I’m happy that locally we can do something to try to improve the health of our young people,” Jeannine said.

The Long Beach Values Act of 2017 fully supports the California Values Act (SB 54). The city of Long Beach was the first major city in California to officially support the bill on February 7, 2018. The official practice of the Long Beach Police Department is to comply with the California TRUST Act (AB 4), which prohibits local law enforcement from detaining a non-citizen, pursuant to an immigration hold past the time the person is eligible for release from criminal custody.

For her community work and commitment to working families, immigrants, and children, La Comadre recognizes Jeannine as a luchadora and ally of the Long Beach Latino community.

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Adriana Maestas

Adriana Maestas

Adriana Maestas is a Southern California-based freelance writer and education professional. Her writing has been published in NBC Latino,,, Alternet, and The Electronic Intifada.

She has worked in the non-profit sector, in the K-12 system, and in higher education in various capacities. When she's not writing stories or working on media projects, Adriana trains instructors to teach online at the University of California, Irvine.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Irvine and a master’s degree in public policy from Claremont Graduate University.

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