L.A. City Council
District 4: Nithya Raman
An MIT-trained urban planner and co-founder of homelessness services organization SELAH, Nithya Raman is running on a progressive, people-powered platform that includes ending homelessness, preventing climate crisis, and reforming the corrupt culture inside City Hall. With just one-third of the financial resources of her opponent, the incumbent David Ryu, Raman’s detailed policies, energetic volunteer base, and strong relationships with grassroots organizations, forced this runoff election “We can only overwhelm a deeply entrenched system by amassing a huge amount of people power,” she told theLAnd magazine. Read our profile of Nithya Raman.
District 10: Mark Ridley-Thomas
If Raman represents the new guard of progressive, first-time candidates, then Ridley-Thomas might be considered her opposite. A career politician whose campaign’s $100,000 donation to USC raised ethical questions about his son’s employment there, Ridley-Thomas is being termed out of the Board of Supervisors — where he most notably authored Measure H, in a clearly imperfect bid to end homelessness. While deeply entrenched in L.A.’s political machine, he’s recently leaned to the left, calling on Sheriff Villanueva to resign, declaring racism a public health crisis, and voting to put Measure J on the ballot. He was first elected to L.A. City Council back in the ‘90s — which means, if elected again this time, he’d only be eligible to serve one term, leaving room for a more progressive candidate to replace him in 2024. That’s reason enough to vote for him now, particularly considering that his opponent, Grace Yoo, is a disaster: Her campaign is fueled by a flurry of anti-homeless rhetoric and a push to prevent even the most basic shelters and supportive housing from being built in Koreatown.
Los Angeles County
Supervisor, District 2: Holly Mitchell
Ridley Thomas’ exit from the Board of Supervisors leaves open his incredibly important seat for District 2; state Senator Holly Mitchell is the ideal candidate to replace him. Her record is exemplary: she supports strong limits on law enforcement and a host of good, imaginative policies around housing and homelessness. Unlike her opponent, city councilmember Herb Wesson, who served as president of the City Council during an FBI corruption probe, Mitchell has the legislative track record to back up her rhetoric. She’s passed more than 70 bills, including one that made it illegal for landlords to discriminate against low-income tenants and another to make California a housing-first state. “We can’t look at this as a moment, this has to be perceived as a movement and a true transition in how we live and govern and exist,” she told theLAnd magazine in a recent interview. “We have to really invest in the long run. And that’s what I’m committed to doing.”
Read More: Holly Mitchell is Ready to Take on Los Angeles
District Attorney: George Gascón
The former San Francisco D.A. has come a long way since climbing the ranks of Daryl Gates’ LAPD. Now, the Havana-born, L.A.-raised attorney is running as a reform candidate. He’s seeking to stop overcharging minors, start charging police officers who commit crimes, reduce the overall jail population, and end the death penalty. Despite his early career in policing, it’s notable that his candidacy is opposed by the police unions, who have spent millions on his opponent, incumbent D.A. Jackie Lacey’s campaign. Perhaps with good reason: Lacey has failed to prosecute killer cops, and incited the Black Lives Matter rallying cry: “Jackie Lacey Must Go!” George Gascón is our best chance to see that happen.
Read More: Is George Gascon Really the Godfather of Progressive Prosecutors?
Measure J: YES
Measure J, more popularly known as Reimagine LA, is designed to address the racial inequities across the county. The measure divests at least 10% of the county’s locally-generated unrestricted revenues from carceral systems and law enforcement agencies (much of which will come straight from the L.A. Sheriff’s Departmennt) and directly reinvests that money back into Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. If passed, the county will be able to fund services like restorative justice, public health services, job training for low-income residents, and provide capital for BIPOC-owned businesses. This is both the bare minimum the County should be doing to support racial justice, and a huge step forward. This measure earns our unqualified support.
California State Propositions
Proposition 14: NO
A $5.5 billion public bond measure to fund stem cell research, there are myriad problems with this proposition. Most glaringly, the revenue from patents developed in this state’s stem cell research institute will not go to the public, and there is no commitment to ensure that medical gains made through this research are available to the public at reasonable cost. It’s a gut punch given that we’re talking about $7.8 billion of public money (including interest). When this proposition’s predecessor was passed in 2004, stem cell research was still under existential attack. In 2020, this measure represents an unconscionable public giveaway to a poorly supervised institute.
Proposition 15: YES
Proposition 15 will help solve California’s budget crisis by closing the property transfer loophole that allows corporations to pay shockingly low taxes on their land. The initiative also allows for phased in commercial property value reassessments, which will raise money from large corporations while exempting small business-owners and homeowners. The estimated $8-12 billion raised annually will be earmarked for education and helping local governments fund public services. It’s an easy yes vote for anyone who cares about education and equity in California.
Read More: A Battle for the Soul of California: An Oral History of Prop 15
Proposition 16: YES
With the 1996 passage of Proposition 209, California became the first state to ban affirmative action. That was a huge mistake, and Proposition 16 would undo that, repealing the previous law in full. Affirmative action’s absence hurt people of color’s chances of getting better education and higher paying contracts. Recent protests demanding racial equity make it clear that reinstating affirmative action is the right way to go.
Proposition 17: YES
Proposition 17 restores the voting rights of felons upon completion of their prison term. We believe people should never be stripped of their right to vote. Plain and simple. Restoring the right to vote for felons is a step in the right direction towards true universal suffrage, and one that will largely enfranchise historically oppressed populations.
Proposition 18: YES
A yes vote on Proposition 18 allows 17-year-old Californians to vote in primary elections, provided that they will be 18 at the time of the general election. The argument in favor is simple: people who vote in a general election should have a say in who they get to vote for. That is, in essence, the purpose of a primary. The argument against this proposition is equally simple: Old Man Yells At Cloud.
Proposition 19: NO
While Proposition 19 closes down a tax loophole by preventing wealthy families from passing down benefits for rental properties, it opens up an even bigger one that would ultimately perpetuates the wealth divide. Its passage will allow homeowners to take tax benefits with them when they move, which would make it much easier for the wealthiest Californians to avoid paying their fair share. There is also a risk that Proposition 19 will make California’s devastating affordable housing crisis worse by complicating inheritance laws around homes in which multi-generational families reside.
Proposition 20: NO
Proposition 20 would mangle years of activist work to end mass incarceration. It would reclassify 51 crimes and sentence enhancements as violent, opening up paths to more severe sentences, and potentially exclude prisoners from the parole review program. This proposition would also put privacy at risk by allowing police to collect DNA for misdemeanor offenses, including shoplifting (grocery conglomerates are among the largest donors supporting; the other major donor group is, not kidding, prison guard unions). And, of course, the implementation of all this would cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year. It’s hard to imagine a more disgusting way to waste our resources than by locking up more people during a pandemic.
Proposition 21: YES
Facing a crushing eviction crisis, one way for California to help keep people in their homes is to give municipalities the ability to protect tenants. Proposition 21 allows for expanded tenant protections and rent control by modifying the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act to allow for cities to protect tenants in properties that are at least 15 years old, while exempting landlords who own two or fewer units. This is a more moderate version of 2018’s Proposition 10, and answers many of the criticisms that proposition faced. This is a straightforward yes for anyone who believes in the rights of renters in California.
Proposition 22: NO
It’s possible that you’ve seen Lyft co-opt Maya Angelou’s words for YouTube ads meant to convince you that exploiting workers is good, actually. Contrary to deceptive campaign ads, Proposition 22 is not about preserving driver flexibility or saving drivers from politicians (a strong tell: rideshare drivers oppose it). Proposition 22 is about granting a special exemption to app-based companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash (who have dumped a record $180 million into this campaign) from following existing state laws that require them to provide drivers with fair wages, healthcare, unemployment insurance, sick leave, and other basic rights.
Proposition 23: YES
Another year, another kidney dialysis-related measure. We’re recommending a soft yes vote on Proposition 23. While this proposed law does not go far enough to fix the parasitic dialysis industry, it represents a real challenge to the industry’s efforts to consolidate power. A yes vote will move us closer to accountability, requiring more doctors to be present at these facilities, and create a more labor friendly environment for healthcare workers.
Proposition 24: YES
Proposition 24 is complicated. The 52-page ballot initiative focused on digital privacy rights is a mix of half-measures and sputtering starts. It’s ostensibly intended to strengthen the watershed California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) by limiting how businesses use data about sexuality, race, and precise location to profile customers (good); it also allows companies to offer loyalty discounts in exchange for tracking permission (bad). Still, we believe it will be a net good for those who want to maintain their privacy on the ‘net. It will fund the creation of a 50-person digital privacy agency, and amendments will only require a simple majority rule in the legislature for further security enhancements (which it definitely needs).
Proposition 25: NO
While this proposition attempts to be progressive by ending cash bail, it unfortunately replaces it with an even more restrictive system — handing enormous power to judges, probation departments, and racist/classist “risk assessment” algorithms to imprison defendants before trial. The result? Automating racial profiling. We reject the false dichotomy of choosing the side of mass incarceration or the bail bond industry. Our no vote is in favor of paths that lead towards abolition — one such route is Measure J, which includes elements that address pre-trial assessments that would be rendered ineffectual by Proposition 25.
Office 162: David D. Diamond
An experienced trial attorney familiar with a wide variety of litigation, David D. Diamond is fluent in procedure and evidentiary rules as an adjunct professor of criminal law. He has also served on the indigent criminal defense panel, providing a perspective that is sorely needed by the courts. He’s also up against a prosecutor, making him the clear choice in this race.
Office 72: Myanna Dellinger
The University of San Diego law professor would bring years of sophisticated legal reasoning to the office. While Dellinger’s lack of trial experience is concerning – wrangling a courtroom is no small feat – she holds a clear advantage over prosecutor Steve Morgan. Her election would represent a fresh approach for the bench, making her the straightforward choice.
Office 80: Klint James McKay
An administrative law judge, Klint James McKay impressed the Public Defender Union representatives with his thoughtful and articulate answers to their questioning. McKay is focused on the judicial process, and his opponent has a background as a prosecutor. We think McKay’s temperament would be an asset to the bench.
LAUSD School Board
Seat 3: Scott Schmerelson
It’s fair to say that Scott Schmerelson has made some decisions we don’t agree with — most notably, voting against defunding the Los Angeles School Police Department. But the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA)-endorsed candidate is clearly the better choice in a tight race against charter-school-endorsed Marilyn Koziatek. Her election would shift the power on the board back toward charter advocates. Further, she is invoking dog whistles around “local schooling” in her campaign that harken back to a deeply racist era of San Fernando Valley education politics. The stakes are too high not to vote for Schmerelson.
Seat 7: Patricia Castellanos
Here’s a shocking stat: If elected, Patricia Castellanos would be the only board member with a child actually enrolled in an LAUSD school. The UTLA-endorsed candidate, who currently serves as L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s Workforce Deputy, is the clear choice against charter school advocate-backed opponent Tanya Ortiz-Franklin.
LAUSD Measure RR: YES
LAUSD students deserve better facilities and equipment, and Measure RR would help accomplish that: The $7 billion bond would fund construction and upgrades of school facilities and equipment. To pay for the bond, this measure extends an existing school construction property tax that would otherwise expire. We strongly dislike the $450 million earmarked in this bill for charter schools and have some concerns about accountability for how this money will be spent. But our support for upgraded schools and equipment – as well as funding it by extending a property tax that would otherwise expire – prevails. Yes on RR.
California State Senate
District 21: Kipp Mueller
A worker’s rights attorney with a progressive platform focusing on homelessness, wage inequality, and the environment, Kipp Mueller deserves your vote over the incumbent, Republican Scott Wilk, in this High Desert district.
District 23: Abigail Medina
Republican candidates received 54% of the vote in the March primary for this San Bernardino County open seat. However, Democrat Abigail Medina has a chance to upend expectations with a platform emphasizing environmental protections and expanded education funding.
District 25: No Recommendation
From his perch as Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, incumbent Anthony Portantino has been a consistent roadblock to progressive legislation. Rather than wield his power to address the urgent problems we face, he’s instead acted in favor of wealthy homeowners and big business. His write-in opponent is running on a Trump platform, so we cannot recommend either candidate in this race.
District 27: Henry Stern
A strong advocate for the environment, Henry Stern supported the prohibition of oil and gas activities within 2,500 feet of homes, schools, and hospitals. Unfortunately, this bill fell one vote short of moving forward in August, after corporate Democrats sided with fossil fuel interests over our health and safety. We’d like to see him push a similar environmental agenda next session.
District 29: Josh Newman
Josh Newman previously held this seat in Orange County, but lost a recall election in 2018 after angering Republican voters with his vote to raise the state gas tax in order to fund public transportation, roads, and bridges. We support Newman and hope a comeback victory will encourage other Democrats to take tough votes in the face of GOP opposition.
District 33: Elizabeth Castillo
A registered nurse who refuses to take donations from corporations, Elizabeth Castillo supports single-payer healthcare, the Green New Deal, and rent forgiveness. Her platform makes her an easy choice against incumbent Lena Gonzalez, who received more than $1 million in independent ad spending from oil companies.
District 35: Steven Bradford
Incumbent Senator Steven Bradford has been a leader on police accountability. Last year, he co-sponsored a law aimed at reducing police use of deadly force, and this year he introduced SB 731, a bill that, if passed, will prohibit cops who commit serious misconduct from being re-hired at other police departments. He’s earned another term.
District 36: No Recommendation
The incumbent, Tom Lackey, is a Republican who used his platform to performatively cry on behalf of killer cops when discussing a 2019 bill that limits police use of deadly force. His Democratic challenger Steve Fox, who held the seat in the past, is a former Republican who has been credibly accused of sexual harassment, and advocates expanding police presence in schools. Six other people ran in the primary and we almost certainly would have done better with any other option.
District 38: No Recommendation
This is the lone race in L.A. County with two Republicans facing off against each other. How Sway? They can both attend a buffet lunch with the President.
District 39: Luz Maria Rivas
Luz Maria Rivas has a good record on housing and immigration. She is facing a Republican whose Facebook page contains pro-Trump memes. Despite an imperfect record on policing, Rivas has done enough to earn our recommendation for reelection.
District 41: No Recommendation
Chris Holden recently sponsored a sheriff oversight bill in the Assembly, as well as a task force for reparations and criminal justice reform. However, he also authored a multibillion dollar bailout for electric utilities that cause wildfires and included an exemption from liability for the catastrophic Paradise fire that killed around 100 people. That is unforgivable. His opponent is a Republican who opposes immigration and is staunchly pro-police, but only received 31.3% of the vote. This is not a competitive district and thus, we cannot recommend either candidate.
District 43: Laura Friedman
Laura Friedman has a strong, if imperfect, progressive voting record and has demonstrated a willingness to listen and adapt to feedback from her constituents. Her opponent is a Republican who opposes affordable housing expansion. Vote for Friedman’s reelection.
District 44: No Recommendation
Incumbent Jacqui Irwin is strong on environmental issues, but very weak on most other progressive topics — including police reform. However, she is running against a Republican who is, in her own words, “pro-life, pro-legal immigration, and pro-wall.” Irwin is better, but in a relatively safe Democratic seat we are not leveling a recommendation.
District 45: No Recommendation
Incumbent Jesse Gabriel ran unopposed in the primary, which led a write-in Republican to qualify for the runoff. In the most recent session, Gabriel did not support several police reform bills, most notably Black Lives Matter-LA’s top priority, SB 731, to decertify police who wrongfully kill someone so they can’t be easily rehired by another agency. This heavily Democratic district will reelect Gabriel, so until he supports decertification, we won’t recommend a vote for him.
District 46: Adrin Nazarian
While not a progressive stalwart, Adrin Nazarian has been a reliably good vote on bills that reach the floor. While he’s voted the right way, he has also shown a lack of leadership on issues related to police—he was part of a bloc of votes that simply did not materialize for SB 731, which would have decertified police who murder people. His challenger Lanira Murphy is more progressive on some issues, but is also running on a strong anti-AB 5 platform (AB 5 was meant to give more protections to gig workers). While AB 5 was problematic as first written, most of its opposition has been of the anti-labor variety, and her alignment with those forces gives us pause. This is an interesting race, and was one of our most difficult decisions as both candidates are decent but flawed, but in the end Nazarian’s voting record narrowly earns him our support.
District 48: No Recommendation
Blanca Rubio is running for a second term unopposed. A bummer, because she takes thousands of dollars from pharmaceuticals, real estate, and fossil fuel companies. This corporate influence shows in her voting record. Assuming democracy is still around in two years, someone should run against her from the left.
District 49: No Recommendation
Edwin Chau is a moderate running against an anti-abortion monster. Chau has a mostly decent voting record, but in 2018 killed a legislative Costa Hawkins repeal bill in committee (which would have allowed for expanded rent control and tenant protections across the state). He also voted no on repealing sentence enhancement for prior convictions and refused to support Black Lives Matter-LA’s top priority, SB 731, to decertify police who wrongfully kill people so they can’t be easily rehired by another agency. He’s running against a GOP opponent who he will likely blow out of the water anyway (he previously defeated him in 2018, amassing over 70% of the vote). While we recommended Chau in the primary, we can no longer in good conscience recommend a vote for Chau now.
District 50: Richard Bloom
Since his election to the seat in 2012, Richard Bloom has authored a lot of good bills, and has proactively fought for affordable and inclusionary housing. His opponent Will Hess is also listed as a Democrat, even though he is against sanctuary states, defunding the police, Black Lives Matter, and basically everything progressives want. Vote for Bloom.
District 51: No Recommendation
Incumbent Democrat Wendy Carrillo represents one of the state’s most progressive districts, yet in the past she’s been lukewarm on progressive causes like Medicare For All. She’s running unopposed for the 51st District seat, and has not done enough to warrant a recommendation.
District 52: No Recommendation
A corporate Democrat, incumbent Freddie Rodriguez has a history of abstaining from voting on justice reform bills. His challenger Republican, Toni Holle, hits all the standard right-wing fear-mongering points. Another race where a middling Democrat will comfortably win against an abhorrent Republican. In the wake of this most recent session, we are leveling no recommendation.
District 53: Godfrey Plata
Godfrey Santos Plata is one of the rare genuinely progressive candidates running for State Assembly this fall. At a time when our state is in the middle of a massive housing crisis, Plata could be the sole renter in the 80-member California State Assembly (the lone current renter, Todd Gloria, is running a tight race for Mayor of San Diego—plus he was a homeowner in 2008). Plata’s policies on housing, the environment, and healthcare are all extremely progressive. It’s led the incumbent Miguel Santiago to shift left after years of taking tens of thousands of dollars of campaign contributions from oil companies, developers, and law enforcement associations. But it’s too little, too late. Vote for Plata.
District 54: Tracy Jones
We’re glad that the incumbent, Sydney Kamlager, embraced important policies like Medicare for All and the Homes Guarantee. Nonetheless, we’re concerned about her support for need-based college tuition rather than free public college tuition as a right — especially since the district she’s running in includes UCLA. Means testing inevitably becomes a barrier to some who would otherwise qualify, such as single moms working multiple jobs, who might not have the time to go through all the required bureaucracy. Her challenger, Tracy Bernard Jones, is a teacher who volunteered for Bernie Sanders in 2016 and 2020 and campaigns for Medicare for All. She wants to ban fracking, is against charter schools, and previously worked on establishing a gang truce in South Central LA. That’s an undeniable progressive platform, earning Jones our support.
District 55: Andrew E. Rodriguez
Republican incumbent Phillip Chen is endorsed by the NRA and has historically voted against progressive bills pertaining to education, rent relief, and environmental justice. Challenger Andrew Rodriguez wants to prioritize affordable housing and education, reusable energy, and paid family leave. Vote for Rodriguez.
District 57: No Recommendation
It’s not a great sign that Republican Jessica Martinez thinks that Governor Gavin Newsom has a “far-left world view.” She’s one of two plaintiffs (the other being District 39 candidate Ricardo Benitez) who sued Newsom over his proposal to give undocumented immigrants financial aid in the wake of the pandemic. She is quite ghoulish. Unfortunately, Democrat Lisa Calderon (the stepmother of current District 57 Assemblymember Ian Calderon) isn’t much better. While Calderon wants to focus on the homelessness crisis, environmental justice, and funding in education, there are some serious issues here. The Calderon political dynasty has had its fair share of controversy—the FBI busted her uncles Senator Ron Calderon and former State Assemblyman Tom Calderon for money-laundering and mail fraud in 2016. So while Calderon herself hasn’t been directly involved in any scandal, we hesitate to outright recommend a candidate that could potentially continue a corrupt political dynasty.
District 58: Margaret Villa
The incumbent, Cristina Garcia, received large contributions from real estate, landlord, and developer interests after being one of the few Democrats not to initially support AB 1482, the statewide rent cap bill. She also opposed public banking, and co-authored legislation to disenfranchise her own constituents in the Central Basin Municipal Water District. Her challenger, Margaret Villa, supports Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, rent control, and free public college tuition, and opposes water privatization. Not even a question.
District 59: Reggie Jones-Sawyer
One of the more progressive members of the assembly, Reggie Jones-Sawyer is being challenged from the right by nominal Democrat Efren Martinez. Backed heavily by police money, Martinez’s election would be a blow to reform efforts. In a particularly vile move, law enforcement unions propping up Martinez have gone so far as to release material with crosshairs over the face of Jones-Sawyer. While Jones-Sawyer’s record on the environment could be better, he is good on police reform and healthcare. Also, due to shifting demographics in the district, Jones-Sawyer is vulnerable in this race. Supporting him is the move.
District 62: No Recommendation
The incumbent, Autumn Burke, has a middling record in one of the safest districts in the state. She’s taken tens of thousands of dollars from oil companies, and she refused to support limits on oil and gas extraction in California. She also declined to back bills that would protect the environment by eliminating single-use plastics. What’s more, she refused to vote against stopping the dialysis industry from steering patients away from Medicare towards private insurers — all while taking campaign contributions from the insurance industry. We must demand better from Democrats in seats as safe as Burke’s.
District 63: No recommendation
Maria Estrada is challenging Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. In the past, Rendon killed California’s attempt to create a statewide single payer healthcare system. This most recent assembly session was a masterpiece in catastrophe, and Rendon bears the bulk of the blame. Rendon’s office failed to accommodate his fellow lawmakers, leading to the horrifying image of masked Assemblymember Buffy Wicks holding her newborn baby on the floor of the assembly after 11pm on the final day of the session. And the Democratic supermajority he leads failed to pass a number of pieces of popular legislation that would have made California a better and more equal place to live, including SB 731 which would have made it easier to decertify criminal cops. Estrada is centering her campaign on racial justice, environmental justice, and healthcare expansion. Unfortunately, we recently learned she also has a history of posts on social media that are extremely problematic. While we initially recommended a vote for her to send a message that legislative sessions like this most recent one are wholly unacceptable, we have changed that to a no recommendation in this race.
District 64: Fatima Shahnaz Iqbal-Zubair
A teacher, union member, and immigrant, Fatima Shahnaz Iqbal-Zubair is running a movement campaign that takes no money from special interests, and already put up an impressive result in the primary against a well-funded incumbent. She often speaks about the need to undo the systemic history of environmental racism that has caused residents of her district – littered with refineries – to have lower life expectancies than the rest of Southern California. It is these same refineries that fund her opponent, Mike Gipson, whose tenure in the Assembly has been fueled by oil money. Gipson is also a former police officer and has supported only the weakest reforms to law enforcement in the face of the George Floyd Uprisings. Iqbal-Zubair wants to hold the police and sheriffs accountable, and understands we need to defund the police and reinvest in the community. She supports Medicare For All, the Green New Deal, and is endorsed by a number of progressive groups in LA. If you live in this district, voting for Iqbal-Zubair is imperative.
District 66: Al Muratsuchi
Despite his mixed record on some progressive issues, Al Muratsuchi has impressed on the environment, including co-sponsoring AB 345, which would have prohibited oil drilling within 2,500 feet of homes, schools, and hospitals. Muratsuchi’s opponent in this swing district is a far-right blogger whose platform is based on incredibly toxic hate and racism. Vote for Muratsuchi.
District 70: No recommendation
Representing a heavily Democratic district burdened with pollution, incumbent Patrick O’Donnell has betrayed their best interests by voting against oil and gas well testing requirements, public notification of health impacts of industrial projects, and reduced emissions from electrical generation. He also voted to retain mandatory sentencing enhancements and failed to vote for the statewide rent cap and just cause eviction protections. We are choosing not to recommend in this race, as O’Donnell’s opponent is a Republican who doesn’t believe in global warming.
District 8: Chris Bubser
Chris Bubser is running in a district heavily affected by fires and climate change. Her background as a conservationist and engineer makes her a more than credible alternative to Trump-endorsed Republican, Jay Obernolte, who is trying to maintain a conservative stranglehold on the district.
District 23: Kim Mangone
In a district that includes only the northernmost part of LA County, Kim Mangone is running against Kevin McCarthy. Mangone is fine—she calls for expanding federal healthcare benefits and green energy production while stopping short of calling for Medicare For All or a Green New Deal. On the other hand, House Minority leader and extreme Trump loyalist McCarthy deserves to get lost on a three hour tour led by the “beautiful” MAGA boaters. If you live in District 23, please vote against him and for Mangone.
District 25: Christy Smith
In May, Democrat Christy Smith lost the special election to Republican Mike Garcia in the wake of Katie Hill’s resignation. They face off again now, and we’re recommending a vote for Smith. We wish Smith’s approach in the state legislature or in running for Congress was more progressive. She’s voted against a suite of housing bills in the Assembly that would benefit tenants, and is running on lowering taxes and increasing police funding. We think, both morally and tactically, this is a misstep. Hill generated enthusiasm with a progressive campaign platform that Smith’s more conservative approach has failed to reproduce. There are some strong aspects to her platform worth highlighting, like shutting down the dangerous Aliso Canyon gas facility. That said, many politicians have promised to shutter Aliso in the past few years, and none have actually mustered the political will to get it done. But the alternative in this extremely purple district is the disastrous Garcia, a straight down-the-line Trump cultist. Giving him a full term would be a catastrophe. He’s bad enough that sitting this race out is not an option; Smith gets the nod.
District 26: Julia Brownley
Behold an extremely tepid recommendation for Julia Brownley. Our support and shakiness of conviction ultimately come down to environmental issues. Despite being on the Congressional Climate Change Panel, Brownley has not stepped up to co-sponsor the Green New Deal. However, she did co-sponsor a fracking ban for coastal California, and has voted correctly in favor of environmental-friendly legislation. Ultimately, we expect more from someone representing an increasingly safe, coastal district where the environment is a primary concern. Her opponent though: egads. Ronda Kennedy is a lawyer with a strict constructionist approach, and Scalia-lite vibes abound in her platform. She also has expanding law enforcement as her number one campaign priority. The stuff of nightmares! Don’t vote for Kennedy, and let’s hope that someone tries to push Brownley from the left in the nex cycle.
District 27: Judy Chu
Judy Chu represents the West San Gabriel Valley and is really good! She signed onto the Green New Deal, is impressive on immigration, and a consistently good vote on other issues that matter. It’s a no-brainer: a powerful progressive who largely does the right things versus a clown running on getting more guns in schools (seriously), various pro-life propaganda, and an unworkable flat tax.
District 28: No Recommendation
Adam Schiff’s a mixed bag. While he’s effectively attacked the president and signed onto the Green New Deal, his record on foreign policy is disastrous. He remains a Democrat in the Dianne Feinstein mold, repeatedly voting to increase military budgets and law enforcement powers. If your voting record in your primary realm of policy expertise draws comparisons to Feinstein in a district as progressive as CA-28, that’s a huge problem.
Schiff’s opponent Eric Early is extremely conservative, and frankly not a credible threat (Schiff should win this race comfortably). We are disappointed that our primary recommendation, Maebe A. Girl, did not make the general election to push Schiff from the left. Next cycle, we would like to see Schiff face-off against a challenger who can hold him accountable on his approach to foreign policy.
District 29: Angelica Dueñas
A progressive candidate to give Californians hope for the future, Angelica Dueñas supports the Green New Deal, Medicare For All, and the Homes Guarantee; she recognizes the urgent need to address the crises of climate change, healthcare, and housing affordability. She is running a grassroots, working class campaign, and her candidacy is an outgrowth of years of dedicated activism and service in her community.
Her opponent, Congressman Tony Cárdenas, represents everything wrong with the current Democratic establishment. Despite representing a deep-blue district, Cárdenas holds centrist positions on healthcare and the environment, and has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from large pharmaceutical, health insurance, and fossil fuel companies. Astoundingly, Cárdenas is currently seeking the position of Assistant Speaker of the House, a promotion that would further cement the rot in the Democratic Party. Dueñas deserves your strong support.
District 30: No Recommendation
Brad Sherman has been in Congress for 23 years, but has done little to nothing to advance a progressive agenda. He will win this seat, but his record is insufficient to warrant a recommendation. His opponent, Republican Mark Reed, is not a credible threat and certainly does not deserve your vote.
District 32: Grace Napolitano
Grace Napolitano has been in office for over two decades as an archetypal middle of the road Democrat. She is a safe liberal vote for anything good that has a chance of passing. She’s fine.
There’s a need for an injection of new energy in this district soon, but it’s not her opponent. Joshua Scott brings the absolute worst type of young Republican, business guy energy. He’s running on a straight down the line conservative platform: more guns, building the wall, and worse healthcare coverage. Vote Napolitano.
District 33: Ted Lieu
Ted Lieu’s seat is safe, and his rhetoric often outpaces his accomplishments. That said, he is a solid vote, and his opponent is extremely conservative. Vote for Lieu this cycle, and hopefully someone challenges him from the left in the future to push him even further in the correct direction.
District 34: David Kim
David Kim is a strong progressive challenger in an extremely progressive district. He supports the Homes Guarantee, the abolition of ICE, and the Green New Deal. While his past in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office may raise eyebrows for some, his current work as an activist should ease that tension (Kim is still a participant in protests that support defunding the police). His emphasis on Universal Basic Income over some other welfare policies is perhaps not the tact we would take to reduce inequality, but Kim would represent a marked improvement over his opponent, Jimmy Gomez. We recommend giving him your vote.
District 37: Karen Bass
Bass is the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus and focuses on criminal justice reform, foster care, and relations with Africa. While her national profile is on the rise, she is still focusing on solving problems in her district like the issue of mail delivery at the Mar Vista Gardens public housing facility. We recommend a vote for Bass, and hope she continues to rise within the party ranks.
District 38: Michael Tolar
Challenger Michael Tolar was guaranteed a place on the November ballot, running uncontested for one of two spots. Tolar, who identifies as a progressive Democrat, only received 22.3% of the primary vote, but we hope he does better in the general election. The incumbent, Linda Sanchez, voted for every one of Trump’s National Defense Authorization Acts, including the most recent one that authorized selling bombs to Saudi Arabia to attack Yemen. She also voted for Trump’s free trade deal with Mexico and Canada, doesn’t advocate for Medicare for All, and her husband has been indicted on federal corruption charges. Tolar supports Medicare for All and rent control, and refuses to take any corporate PAC money.
District 39: Gil Cisneros
While Gil Cisnero’s early support for the Green New Deal and his anti-corporate PAC money pledge energized progressives in this Orange County swing district, his record and rhetoric have since been decidedly moderate. However, a vote for Young Kim is not the answer—she’s running on a cookiecutter Republican platform, and her campaign is funded by the pharmaceutical industry and other large corporate donors.
District 40: No Recommendation
Incumbent Lucille Roybal-Allard voted to fund ICE in a district with a large undocumented population. She doesn’t advocate for Medicare for All in a district with a large number of uninsured people, and she voted for the president’s National Defense Authorization Acts. She inherited her seat from her dad nearly 30 years ago. The Republican challenger squeaked into the runoff with just 13.7% of the vote, and there are very few Republican voters in this district, so she has no chance of losing. We are issuing no recommendation in this race.
District 43: Maxine Waters
Representative Maxine Waters is running against a Republican who openly praises President Trump for boosting the economy. Waters has a long, solid record, and recently sponsored bills to provide financial relief in the midst of a pandemic. Waters clearly deserves your vote. However, as the chair of the Financial Services Committee, we wish she would bring her activist streak to addressing the impending eviction crisis through rent cancellation or other more drastic measures than the ones she’s currently proposing.
District 44: Nanette Diaz Barragán
Nanette Barragán has maintained a strong track record since being elected in 2016. Barragán has been especially proactive about fighting racial health disparities and discrimination throughout the pandemic. She also has refused to take any oil company money, and has actively opposed oil company bailouts alongside Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey. We recommend reelecting a strong progressive in Barragán.
District 45: Katie Porter
Katie Porter established herself as a powerful progressive voice during her first term in Congress, especially on issues of economic justice and the financial industry. Her reelection prospects are good compared to the other OC freshman Democrats, which goes to show that progressive positions are an asset, not a detriment, to candidates in swing districts. Enthusiasm matters, and Porter has earned it.
District 47: Alan Lowenthal
Several progressive candidates ran for this seat in the March primary, but unfortunately the runoff is between long-time representative Alan Lowenthal and GOP opponent John Briscoe. Lowenthal is our pick. The former Cal-State Long Beach community psychology professor has consistently fought against fracking and is a co-sponsor of Medicare For All legislation. That’s a strong enough progressive legislative record to earn our support, especially against a Republican who is running on criminalizing the unhoused residents of his district.
District 50: Ammar Campa-Najjar
In 2018, progressive Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar nearly won this dark-red district east of San Diego—all while facing racist attacks from his historically corrupt Republican opponent who used campaign money to pay for flights for the family’s pet rabbit. Campa-Najjar continues to advance a progressive platform and faces former Congress member Darrell Issa, who held the title of “Richest Member of Congress” while in office. Despite the district’s conservative history, Campa-Najjar and Issa are running a tight race. Give Campa-Najjar your vote.
District 53: Georgette Gómez
San Diego has the opportunity to add a new member to The Squad with progressive candidate Georgette Gómez, a Barrio Logan-raised proponent of cancelling student debt and the Green New Deal. Backed by AOC and Bernie Sanders,Gómez faces former Clinton staffer Sara Jacobs, who has significantly outspent Gómez with her family’s tech fortune. Go with the progressive over the heir to the Qualcomm fortune.
LA Community College District
Office 1: Dr. Andra Hoffman
Dr. Andra Hoffman, who is running for reelection, was initially elected to the Board in 2015 and became its president in July 2019. In addition to having been a student at Valley College, she runs the Career Center and Job Placement Program at Glendale Community College, is a Professor of American and California government, and has 23 years of community college experience. After the 2016 Trump election, Dr. Hoffman advocated for sanctuary campuses on behalf of immigrant students, as well as gap pay for students in the wake of the pandemic. When asked at a candidate forum about renegotiating LACCD’s contract with the sheriff’s department, Dr. Hoffman points to the murder of Andres Guardado as the most recent example in favor of reimaging public safety on campus. She does not believe the sheriff’s department should be removed altogether, but holds that their role should be altered. While we would have liked a stronger stance on the sheriff’s contract, Dr. Hoffman’s dedication to LACCD is clear: we support her reelection and look forward to following how she navigates this issue.
Office 3: David Vela
Prior to joining the Board, David Vela worked for Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg, served on the Montebello Board of Education, worked in public affairs and communications, and continues to own his own firm. In his first two years he has fought to increase student basic needs like access to computers, internet, textbooks, food, and housing — even going as far as establishing a relationship with nonprofit Shower of Hope. When asked to opine on LACCD’s contract with the Sheriff’s department, he spoke of the Board’s decision to devote savings from the contract and energy towards Black student outreach, professional development and training. He also alluded to changing the relationship between the Sheriff’s department and the Explorer program for students who are interested in a career in law enforcement. He did not elaborate on what this partnership would look like, ultimately leaving us lukewarm in our support of his reelection.
Office 5: Dr. Nichelle Henderson
A professor at California State University, Los Angeles, Dr. Nichelle Henderson’s platform focuses on the retention, transfer, and graduation rate of underserved groups in LA County. She has the endorsement of the LACCD faculty along with Black Lives Matter-LA co-founder professor Melina Abdullah. Dr. Henderson would be a welcome addition to a Board that currently features no women of color.
The incumbent, Scott Svonkin, has served as a Trustee since 2011, yet is not an educator and has an extremely problematic background. He works as a director for the LA County Probation Department and previously served as a Senior Advisor to disgraced former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca. He has been accused of engaging in harassment and exhibiting threatening behavior towards the only female trustee on the Board.
Office 7: Mike Fong
Mike Fong won his spot on the Board in 2015 and is running for reelection to represent District 7. His priorities as a Trustee have included expanding workforce education and high-growth sector training programs. When asked to comment on the renegotiation of the contract with LASD as an example, Fong offered the exploration of deescalation techniques, risk assessment, and additional cultural and implicit bias training as potential compromises.
theLAnd Voter Guide
- Immigrant Activists Have Given Me More Hope Than the Democratic Party
- The Progressive Challenger Who Wants to Unseat a Democratic Titan
- Endorsing the Lesser of Two Evils in this Stupid, Sad, and Fake Election
- A Conversation With Kendrick Sampson on Activism and Police Abolition
- Jackie Lacey Vs. The People
- The L.A. Politicians With More Power Than the Mayor
- A Battle for the Soul of California: An Oral History of Prop 15
- Godfrey Santos Plata Wants to Stand Up to Your Landlord
- Fatima Iqbal-Zubair is the Antidote to 2020 Pessimism
- Holly Mitchell is Ready to Take on Los Angeles
- Is George Gascon Really the Godfather of Progressive Prosecutors?
- L.A. Progressive Voter Guide
- Nithya Raman, the Progressive Candidate Running for City Council