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California State Assembly candidates


To help OurWeekly readers make informed voting decisions on November 8th, below are brief profiles on five Black California State Assembly candidates, all incumbents, for districts within Los Angeles County. Each profile includes what each candidate sees as the most important issue or challenge for his or her constituents.

District 41


Candidate: Chris Holden (D)

Opponent: Casey Higgins (R)

Serving: Altadena, Alta Loma, Claremont, La Verne, Monrovia, Pasadena, San Dimas, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, Upland.

Assemblymember Chris Holden was elected in 2012 and 2014. He chairs the Select Committee on Regional Transportation and Interconnectivity Solutions, as well as the California Legislative Black Caucus, among other committees. He is also an Alliance member of the Select Committee on the Status of Boys & Men of Color.

For Holden’s constituents, affordable housing, higher education, and transportation are the biggest concerns. One challenge is extending the Metro Gold Line from Glendora into Montclair, the funding for which he anticipates will be provided for through an L.A. Metro measure on the November 8th ballot.

Higgins’ focus is fiscal responsibility, crime prevention, education, and protecting those who are unable to protect themselves.

District 54


Candidate: Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D)

Opponent: Glen Ratcliff (R)

Serving: Baldwin Hills, Windsor Hills, Ladera Heights, View Park, Crenshaw, Leimert Park, Mid City, Culver City, Mar Vista, Palms, Century City, West Los Angeles

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas was elected to the California State Assembly in 2013. He chairs the Select Committee on Mental & Behavioral Health & Prop 63 Implementation and also serves on the Civic Engagement and the Infectious Diseases in High Risk Disadvantaged Communities committees, among others.

Assemblymember Ridley-Thomas’ work has included extending the operation of the Baldwin Hills Conservancy related to open recreational space, authoring legislation to prohibit consumer racial profiling, increasing public contracting opportunities for minority businesses, and expanding access to mental health care.

Ratcliff is anti-Prop 57, pro school choice, supports the hiring of more LAPD officers and County sheriffs and put desk cops on the streets, and is against what he call “oppressive minimum wages and benefits.”

District 59


Candidate: Reginald Jones-Sawyer, Sr.

Opponent: Unopposed

Serving: South Los Angeles, Florence-Firestone, Walnut Park, and a portion of Huntington Park

Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer was elected in 2012 and 2014. He is Chair of the Public Safety Committee and also serves on the Higher Education, Government Organization, and Agriculture committees. Also, he chairs the Select Committee on Urban Planning and Land Use in Underserved Communities, and co-chairs the Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color.

Among the greatest concerns for District 59 are public safety, local school funding, job quality and workers’ rights, and immigrant rights, among others. He has held Legislative Hearings and community forums as the basis for writing laws, implementing programs, and forming alliances to address these issues.

District 62


Candidate: Autumn Burke

Opponents: Marco Antonio Leal (R), Baron Bruno (Other)

Serving: Inglewood, Hawthorne, Lawndale, El Segundo, Gardena, Westchester, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista, Marina del Rey, Venice, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Del Aire, West Athens, Lennox, Westmont

Assemblymember Autumn Burke was first elected in 2014. Currently, she chairs the Select Committee on Career Technical Education and Building a 21st Century Workforce and also serves on the Accountability and Administrative Review, Health, Housing and Community Development, Rules, and Utilities and Commerce committees. She also is a member of the Legislative Black Caucus, the Legislative Environmental Caucus, and the Legislative Women’s Caucus.

Environmental justice (clean air, safe drinking water, and livable communities) is among the most important issues due to District 62’s unique pollution challenges. Another ongoing challenge is access specifically in terms of quality health care, good schools and solid jobs.

Leal’s top three priorites are: 1) Water.  “I have a vision and inspiration to, once and for all, solve California’s water problem.” 2) Traffic, roads and infrastructure, and 3) Bringing education back to public education.

Bruno’s claims he will work to: localize education, end the failed drug prohibition, fully restore the right of self-defense, nullify and void bureaucratic regulations, end cruelty to the dying, expand health freedom to make it affordable, safe, and effective, end asset forfeiture (“policing for profit”), replace privileged government pensions with Social Security, end government licensing, immediately end police militarization, eliminate the state income tax, eliminate the state sales tax, impose term limits, never expand big government, and require government financial transparency.

District 64


Candidate: Mike Gipson

Opponents: Theresa Sanford (R)

Serving: Carson, Compton, Harbor Gateway, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, South Los Angeles, Watts/Willowbrook, Wilmington, and portions of Gardena, Torrance, Lynwood

Mike Gipson was first elected to the California State Assembly in 2014. He serves on the Aging and Long-Term Care; Governmental Organization; Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy; and Revenue and Taxation committees. He also actively works for the safety of his district’s children through afterschool programs such as Midnight Basketball, S.O.S. (Saving Our Sons), and R.O.S.E. (Reaching Our Sisters).

Assemblymember Gipson believes the issues and challenges of greatest priority for District 64 include job training and local hiring, public safety, foster care, homelessness and affordable housing, health education, access to health care, and pollution.

According to Sanford, “I will vote to protect Prop 13 for residential and commercial property owners. I support cutting taxes to stimulate economic growth in the private sector and preserving tax credits for the working poor. I will support legislation that improves K-12 education and returns as much control as possible over spending and decision-making to  local school sites and support the creation of more vocational training opportunities and college readiness programs for youth in our communities.  I will also vote to protect California residents’ 2nd Amendment and Constitutional rights. I will support measures that provide funding for housing and other services needed by our veterans. I will support measures that would allow out-of-state insurers to do business in California and provide our citizens with a variety of health plans that better meet their needs, rather than the current one-size-fits all approach.”