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Kris Thornton Believes In Investing in the Future

Kris Thornton, COC volunteerMaybe it was his father, an aerospace engineer, who taught him to shoot for the stars. Or maybe it’s his job in the home mortgage business, with the ups and downs of the real estate market that keeps him focused on the long term.

Such experiences led Kris Thornton to volunteer for the Measure K Citizens’ Oversight Committee, a group of seven community leaders who regularly review bond expenditures to ensure that they are appropriate.

Soon to start his second two-year term, Thornton says he also has a personal reason for volunteering—his daughter, Danielle, a student at Hill Classical Middle School. Next year she will be participating in the transition of Hill into a small high school, Sato Academy.

“I see how she is learning and maturing, thanks to the support she gets from her teachers and principal,” said Thornton, who also has four grown daughters, all of whom graduated from Long Beach schools.

Thornton said his father brought his family to California from Alabama in the early 1950s, settling in Long Beach’s Wrigley neighborhood. Kris later bought a home down the street from where he grew up.

“We were among the first black families in the area,” he said. In the last eight years, Thornton has become a community leader, spearheading the Seventh District’s block party each Labor Day weekend, organizing the Daisy Lane parade and the annual snow day at Veterans’ Park.

Evenings and weekends, he moonlights as a driver for Lyft, an on-demand carpool service that can help reduce drunk driving by providing people with an alternative way home.

“I really see this as a community service because we are helping keep drivers off the streets who shouldn’t be on the road,” said Thornton.

A graduate of Polytechnic High and Long Beach City College, he owned and operated a janitorial service for 16 years before making the career switch to mortgage lending. He is an area manager for American Mortgage Co., a Long Beach-based lender that has 18 offices in six states.

Thornton credits his involvement in public service to Felton Williams, a long-time school board member.

“I consider Felton my mentor,” said Thornton. “He has been a great support to me and set a shining example for our community as an effective leader.”

As a member of the bond oversight committee, Thornton says he’s been impressed with how well managed the Measure K program is.

“I’m privileged to have an insider’s view of how things work, and I see that Measure K funds are being stretched to benefit as many schools as possible,” he said.

“My dream is that all students in Long Beach will be able to get the support they need to graduate and have a fulfilling life,” he added.