The Knock LA Los Angeles Progressive Voter Guide for the June 2022 Primary Election
Don’t take away your own right to vote — plenty of people are trying to do that for you.
Looking for Knock LA’s Progressive Voter Guide for the November 2022 General Election? It’s live! Click here.
TRANSLATED VOTER GUIDES:
Knock LA has researched every contest that’s on the ballot in LA County to help you make informed decisions when you vote this spring. From high profile races, like the mayors of Los Angeles and Long Beach, to less familiar offices like judges, we’ve got you covered!
Also, want to know how to vote or where to vote? Here’s what you need to know, with frequently asked questions about voting procedures to ensure that your vote is counted! We recommend voting early, by mail or in person. The deadline to submit your vote is Tuesday, June 7.
To make voting easier, the Knock LA voter guide lists most contests in the order they appear on the ballot. Exceptions include two of the contests that our readers ask about the most, the LA County sheriff and judges of the Superior Court. They’re hotly contested, but buried deep on the ballot, so Knock LA placed them at the beginning of the voter guide. Also, the United States Senate is grouped with the United States House of Representatives.
Note: the district numbers on your ballot might differ from previous elections because the boundaries were changed after the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
Knock LA is a journalistic project of Ground Game LA. These recommendations were made after extensive research by a team of our editors and writers.
We also have these handy voter guides by Los Angeles neighborhood.
LA 2022 June Primary Election Races
Los Angeles Unified School District
Neighboring LA Cities and Districts
United States Senate and House of Representatives
LA COUNTY SHERIFF
Sheriff: Eric Strong
Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who campaigned as a reformer and defeated incumbent Jim McDonnell in 2018 with the help of the LA Democratic establishment, has turned out instead to be vicious, corrupt, and toxically reactionary. His gross misconduct has led the Civilian Oversight Commission and the LA County Democratic Party to call on him to resign. In January 2021, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra launched a civil rights investigation into the LA County Sheriff’s Department, which sought to determine whether LASD has engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing (such as 44,000 bike stops that targeted Latine cyclists).
He says that deputy gangs don’t exist, that they are also in every police department, and that he is taking care of them. He refuses to comply with subpoenas by the Civilian Oversight Commission and the LASD inspector general. His obsession with his media coverage and penchant for damaging and even illegal PR stunts mirror that of former President Trump. He refuses to enforce the COVID vaccine and mask mandates for his department, and went on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show to protest vaccine mandates. Villanueva has displayed a consistent pattern of misogynistic language, such as when he said “the [all female] board of supervisors need to be taken to the shed and beat until they do their job.” He created a special task force to harass his political enemies. He is willing to let his deputies do despicable things without discipline.
Refusing to vote for sheriff does not stop or undo the damage of Villanueva. It’s also important to note that, currently, the elected position of sheriff must have law enforcement experience. The decision of who to vote for for LA County sheriff is about harm reduction.
Eric Strong has seen how police, in several different departments, have failed to serve or protect people. He has stated that he has had negative interactions with the police, and that he has had family members killed by police. Critically, he has held deputies accountable as a member of the internal affairs division. He has committed to immediately remove all deputies involved with severe use-of-force incidents from positions where they interact with the public until all levels of the investigation have concluded.
Strong is also the only candidate who has publicly stated he would support more oversight from outside groups like the Board of Supervisors and Civilian Oversight Commission as well as an impeachment process for the position of sheriff. And he is the only candidate who has stated that not only should the notorious Men’s Central Jail be torn down, it should not be replaced.
Strong thinks that we should re-fund our communities, such as supporting guaranteed income projects for low-income county residents. He has repeatedly declared his support for shifting funding from the Sheriff’s Department budget to social services outside the department. (He calls it “reallocation” rather than “defunding,” but it’s the same principle.) He has stated that he will not use the Olympics as an excuse to grow the department. He will not accept weapons or surveillance equipment donations from federal programs. It would also be worth noting that Strong would be the first Black sheriff in LA County history. While Strong is not our ideal candidate, he is the best option we have, and voting him into office is the best way to move toward a future where police violence is reduced.
Besides Villanueva, Cecil Rhambo is maybe the least fit to be sheriff. Most damning is that over the course of his career, Rhambo worked closely with Lee Baca and Paul Tanaka, who were both federally indicted and imprisoned because of misconduct while employed at LASD. His work with Tanaka was at the same time that Tanaka was committing the crimes that would send him to jail.
Rhambo has been involved in at least three shootings, according to records currently accessible to the public. Two of those shootings resulted in injured deputies, and the third was an off-duty shooting of a civilian. There is no world in which having Rhambo as sheriff makes a positive difference in the everyday lives of Angelenos. Rhambo denies being in an LASD gang, but he has also been photographed throwing up gang signs.
Robert Luna is the former chief of the Long Beach Police Department and part of several scandals, including but not limited to: a helicopter pilot experiencing severe racism on the job, the department illegally using facial recognition software illegally over 1,000 times, and he and the rest of the department using a self-deleting texting app to avoid California record laws.
Britta Steinbrenner wants a new jail to replace Men’s Central Jail and a lowering of the threshold for felony theft and a few other crimes. Steinbrenner is pro–sentencing enhancements (which removes the power from judges to decide sentencing based on the case in front of them), supports recalling George Gascón, and is against an impeachment process for the sheriff. Any one of these positions might be disqualifying, but all of them together show that she believes that locking people away will make our communities safer. In fact, she specifically stated that jail is better than housing for unhoused individuals.
Eli Vera is another candidate who has gotten quite a bit of news coverage. He claims that he was demoted as retaliation for choosing to run against Villanueva. However, something that hasn’t received as much coverage is his being named in several important lawsuits: One about extortion, racketeering, and other charges among LASD leadership, and another about deputy gang harassment that was part of the organizational culture within the department. On top of this evidence of his inability to take action while in a leadership position, he also killed 16-year-old Julio Castillo in 1999.
April Saucedo Hood wants more police on the streets, and is running because of a rise in violent crime. Increasing the amount of police has not helped reduce crime, and the supposed rise in violent crime is a dubious claim at best, mostly explained by a drop in crime due to the pandemic.
Matthew Rodriguez, among other issues, voted for Trump and supported the recall of DA George Gascón.
Karla Yesenia Carranza wants more of the same: more cops, more weapons, more money. She said she won’t end the practice of handcuffing grievously injured, nonresponsive, or deceased victims of deputy violence. She also would not publicly share the LASD’s Brady List, which details police misconduct, public complaints, and use-of-force reports for current officers.
JUDGE OF THE SUPERIOR COURT
As recent events have made frighteningly clear, the judiciary is not a neutral, apolitical institution. On a local level, reactionary judges fight tooth and nail against District Attorney George Gascón’s reforms, and slow-walk the implementation of laws that attempt to undo California’s racist state of mass incarceration.
Judicial elections in Los Angeles can be difficult to untangle even for an engaged and informed voter. The races are countywide, making it incredibly hard for candidates to introduce themselves to even a fraction of the electorate, and the races often came down to mailer battles between prosecutors and the occasional corporate lawyer.
What we see are those whose primary career experience is putting people behind bars competing for the endorsements of the police unions and far-right legal newspapers, such as the Metropolitan News-Enterprise.
The LA County Bar Association rated nine of 12 deputy DAs as “well qualified,” but none of the female public defenders as “well qualified.” Knock LA believes that real-world experience with empathy for both victims and those charged with crimes is essential to prevent injustice.
Now more than ever, with the Supreme Court on the cusp of giving states a green light to prosecute women as criminals for having abortions, the experience of female public defenders should be a priority for the judicial bench.
Office No. 003: Tim Reuben
Tim Reuben is an experienced civil litigator and believer in the power of vaccination as a public safety tool.
The current judge, Sherliyn Garnett, is an excellent, fair-minded jurist, but the Senate recently confirmed her to the federal judiciary, so even though she’s still on the ballot, if she wins the election, the governor would appoint her replacement. Rather than taking your chances with Newsom, vote for Reuben.
Office No. 060: Anna Slotky Reitano
Public Defender Anna Slotky Reitano is a dedicated felony trial attorney with significant experience in the juvenile courts and a deep commitment to ensuring that people suffering from mental illness are treated with dignity and compassion. Reitano is on the Defenders of Justice slate, a group of four progressive women running for judge seats, and endorsed by Ground Game LA.
Her opponents include prosecutors Abby Baron and Sharon Ransom, attorney and TV legal analyst Troy Slaten, and DUI defense expert Mark Rosenfeld. Knock LA recommended Slaten in 2020 when he ran against a district attorney facing serious misconduct allegations. However, Reitano would be an outstanding judge, bringing a unique perspective and experience to the bench.
Office No. 067: Elizabeth Lashley-Haynes
Elizabeth Lashley-Haynes is a highly experienced and respected public defender. Most recently, Lashley-Haynes has been chosen to lead her office’s Racial Justice Act unit, researching and litigating the application of new laws intended to prevent racial bias in prosecution and sentencing. She’s on the Defenders of Justice slate and endorsed by Ground Game LA.
Her opponents are two prosecutors, Ryan Dibble and Fernanda Maria Barreto.
Office No. 070: Holly L. Hancock
We recommended Holly Hancock when she first ran for judge in 2018, and we recommend her again. As a public defender, Hancock has faced some of the most difficult courtrooms in the county, and headed the office’s efforts to expunge old convictions and assist the formerly incarcerated to reenter society.
She held leadership positions with the Association of Flight Attendants Local 12, a form of advocacy that led her to a legal career. She’s on the Defenders of Justice slate and endorsed by Ground Game LA.
Office No. 090: Kevin Thomas McGurk
Kevin Thomas McGurk is the only public defender running for this seat, with experience covering misdemeanors to murders, as well as health court, drug court, and diversion courts. As he points out, “In the last decade, out of forty-three open judicial seats, prosecutors were elected to ninety percent of them. Defense lawyers? Zero.”
Two other candidates, Leslie Gutierrez and Melissa Lyons, are prosecutors.
Office No. 116: Lloyd E. Handler
Lloyd E. Handler has made the brave decision to challenge an incumbent judge, and deserves your vote for it. A public defender with more than three decades of experience, Handler has led the office’s police misconduct unit and litigated to diversify juries in South LA. His career even extends to both sides of the courtroom, as he served as a district attorney before joining the public defender’s office.
His choice to run against Judge Gelfound is an excellent example of why these races matter. While reforms at the state and county levels have created new alternatives to imprisonment, Gelfound has throttled the options for diversion in his court by refusing to use service providers that are accepted everywhere else in the County. Even more concerning, Gelfound refused to discipline or transfer Judge O’Gara for participating in an anti-Gascón Facebook group and counseling prosecutors on how to get around the new DA’s reforms.
Office No. 118: Carolyn “Jiyoung” Park
Carolyn “Jiyoung” Park is a former union staff attorney who has litigated civil rights, labor, and tenant cases, and represented union members in arbitrations and in collective bargaining, experience that is sadly lacking on the bench. It’s safe to say that only a tiny fraction of the judges ruling on eviction cases have even once represented a tenant.
Park is also a committed local and environmental advocate as the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council liaison to the Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance. She would bring real diversity to a bench long dominated by former prosecutors. She’s on the Defenders of Justice slate and endorsed by Ground Game LA.
Three of the other candidates — Keith Koyano, Georgia Huerta, and Melissa Hammond — are prosecutors.
Office No. 151: Thomas D. Allison
Although a public defender is running here, Thomas D. Allison is an outstanding choice for this seat. He’s a law professor and the founder of a nonprofit that holds free legal clinics that focus on domestic violence and expungements. He’s deeply rooted in his community of La Verne.
He’s also not afraid to talk frankly and knowledgeably about the deep systemic biases in the legal system, drawing upon his own negative experiences with police growing up as a young Black man, and the importance of a trauma-informed approach to justice.
Office No. 156: Albert Robles
Judge Carol Elswick is a disgrace. She was publicly admonished by the Commission on Judicial Performance in 2018, who cited discourtesy, unprofessionalism, and the use of improper practices to circumvent the rights of defendants. Attorneys who have appeared in her court describe a continuous pattern of misconduct that extended far beyond those cases. According to one attorney who spoke with Knock LA, “her courtroom is a place where the law and the rights of the defendant simply don’t exist.”
Albert Robles, the former mayor of Carson, is not without his issues — he was previously fined for campaign finance violations and double-dipped with a board seat while mayor — but they pale in comparison to the incumbent’s complete lack of fitness for the bench.
CITY OF LOS ANGELES
This year marks the changing of the guard: Mayor Eric Garcetti is termed out, so there’s a hotly contested race to replace him. At a broader level, there is a battle for the soul of the city. Will the people of Los Angeles build on the historic Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 by demanding an end to police killings, or will the corporate media’s misleading spin claiming that there’s a crime wave cause a backlash?
Several races — City Council Districts 1, 3, 7, and 9 — only have two candidates on the ballot, so these won’t be on the ballot in November, unless a write-in campaign prevents any candidate from winning a majority.
Mayor: Gina Viola
Gina Viola is a longtime social justice organizer with White People 4 Black Lives and alongside Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles. She entered this race when it became clear that no viable candidate was running as a progressive. She carries the credibility of years of service as a thorn in the sides of LAPD Chief Michel Moore and the Los Angeles City Council — particularly as a critic of police brutality and misconduct. Viola is also an advocate for the adoption of the People’s Budget, a community-led participatory budget that would properly fund city services and departments beside the LAPD. She has also been an active member in the LAPC Fails coalition, where she has spoken out constantly against the racism and violence of the LAPD. Despite how others in the race may label themselves, she is the only candidate truly running on a progressive platform. She’s endorsed by Ground Game LA.
The other candidate options have been sorely disappointing. Kevin de León has shown little interest in, or capability for, his current job as a city councilmember in District 14, but he already has his sights set on a promotion. Even before his latest stint on City Council, his record does not inspire confidence. De León played an infamous role in preventing the state Legislature from disbanding the City of Vernon — an industrial tax haven incorporated as government — after a series of corruption scandals laid bare its fundamentally rotten structure. He’s also a supporter of 41.18 — the municipal code that criminalizes sitting, sleeping, and lying in public space — as an effective response to homelessness when, of course, all it does is traumatize and displace unhoused residents. That said, De León has at least stated publicly that he doesn’t want to increase the police budget.
When Representative Karen Bass entered the race, some Angelenos rejoiced at the possibility of having a former community organizer and accomplished Black woman as mayor. However, she is out of touch with the city’s current landscape; she has not only called for restoring the LAPD to its maximum capacity in response to false, police-backed “crime wave” narratives (which she has stoked), but also vigorously defended the stance at every opportunity.
Bass’ unwillingness to respond to concerns from community organizations is unacceptable. Her current stint as vice chairman of the National Endowment for Democracy is emblematic of how being in DC for over a decade has made her more attuned to international nonprofits that help overthrow governments overseas than to grassroots groups demanding civilian control over the police at home.
To be fair, when asked if she supports Sheriff Alex Villanueva for reelection, Bass said that she does not. The other candidates at the debate (De León, Mike Feuer, Rick Caruso, and Joe Buscaino) deflected the question. Viola, who opposes Villanueva, was prevented from participating in the debate.
Anti-abortion billionaire and architect of USC’s sexual assault cover-up Rick Caruso has spent $23 million (and counting) of his personal fortune on blitzing voters with print and digital advertisements replete with nonsensical platitudes. He is a billionaire real-estate developer; if he cared about helping to solve homelessness, he could have chosen to make a massive impact already. A former Republican, he re-registered as a Democrat just to run for mayor, and has helped fund the recall effort of progressive DA George Gascón.
Of the other candidates, San Fernando Valley realtor Mel Wilson deserves an honorable mention for his role in decriminalizing Metro fare enforcement by taking the task away from the notorious LA County Sheriff’s Department and establishing a new, unarmed fare enforcement team. (Though Knock LA and other advocates would prefer free transit rather than any fare enforcement.)
No one else in this race has enough traction to be mentioned, unless you want us to talk about how Councilmember Buscaino sucks so much that he dropped out and how City Attorney Feuer might go to federal prison for his role in the LADWP scandal.
City Attorney: Faisal M. Gill
This powerful office is often overlooked, in part because it’s a confusing mix of roles and responsibilities. These include prosecuting (or not prosecuting) misdemeanors, providing corporate counsel to the City and the LAPD, interpreting the City Charter, drafting legislation at request of the City Council, and representing the public against bad actors like corporate polluters or abusive employers.
Put it all together, and the city attorney could be a progressive powerhouse, if anyone thought to use it that way. The LA City Attorney Coalition’s platform offers some superb specifics as to how this can be done. But instead, the office is generally treated as a political stepping stone (current City Attorney Mike Feuer is running a doomed campaign for mayor), and the staff is infamous for their brutal and carceral approach to prosecution.
Faisal Gill stands out as the one candidate who has embraced a progressive approach to the office. He has promised to cut back on misdemeanor prosecution (including sex workers and unhoused people arrested in sweeps) and to redirect those resources to the affirmative litigation division where they can focus on rooting out wage theft and suing corporate polluters. He also has vowed to hold LAPD accountable, both through prosecution and by how he structures settlements for misconduct on behalf of the city. He looks even better in comparison to the rest of the motley crew competing for the office, who are generally somewhere between right wing and incompetent, and quite often both.
Everything you need to know about Marina Torres, a federal prosecutor, you can gather from her campaign ad that shows her preparing for a day at her old job by putting on a Kevlar vest — not exactly the uniform of someone committed to care over cages. Hydee Feldstein Soto tries to present as sensible and process-oriented but is, in fact, frequently misleading and often troublingly ignorant of legal matters. Kevin James is a former right-wing talk radio host. While well-meaning, Teddy Kapur is not a serious candidate. The other candidates don’t bear mentioning.
City Controller: Kenneth Mejia
Kenneth Mejia has run a trailblazing campaign for this office, using a combination of accounting expertise, social media savvy, enthusiastic public engagement, and a community organizing mentality. His run for office is a working demonstration of how he would perform the job itself as an independent watchdog and public information resource. He’s endorsed by Ground Game LA.
A longtime organizer with the LA Tenants Union, Mejia is a certified public accountant (CPA) with 11 years of accounting and auditing experience. Not only is he the only CPA in the race for city controller — an office responsible for auditing city finances — but he would, astonishingly, be the first CPA in Los Angeles history to serve in this office.
Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley by his single mother, a first-generation Filipina, Mejia and his campaign have already used the race as a platform for progressive values by providing an unprecedented level of financial analysis, transparency, and resources to Angelenos, using city data. These resources include a map of affordable housing units, a heat map and analysis of LAPD traffic and pedestrian stops, and a map of the most frequently ticketed parking spots in LA.
He has even broken important news stories, such as his discovery that half of LA’s American Rescue Plan funds for COVID-19 relief went to the LAPD.
Mejia’s qualifications and outsider perspective has earned him endorsements from the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Melina Abdullah (co-founder of Black Lives Matter–LA), former LA Deputy Mayor Rick Cole, Sunrise Movement LA, Ground Game LA, and many other progressive organizations and community members. The Mejia campaign has the most grassroots support in the city controller race, raising more money in small-dollar donations than all of the other campaigns combined.
By contrast, his main rival, LA City Councilmember Paul Koretz, is a termed-out career politician looking for his next gig, who consistently supports cops and has committed multiple campaign ethics violations during the course of the race.
Of the other challengers, David Vahedi is a lawyer and homeowner advocate who is in for a rematch against Koretz, having previously run against him in a City Council election. Rob Wilcox’s position as spokesperson for the scandal-plagued City Attorney Mike Feuer has put him in the rather embarrassing position of attempting to minimize his boss’s involvement in potential crimes while simultaneously campaigning as a good government crusader.
City Council District 1: Eunisses Hernández
Born and raised in Highland Park, Eunisses Hernández has an impressive record of impact in LA County and California. A pivotal member of the Justice LA coalition, she has led major policy wins, such as Measure J and Care First, Jails Last, which have begun to drive hundreds of millions of dollars into expanding and creating access to community based services, housing, and support for young people in LA County. She’s endorsed by Ground Game LA.
Hernández is an avowed abolitionist rooted in her understanding that the safest communities don’t have the most police, they have the most resources. But she has also demonstrated a knack for pragmatic collaboration with more establishment-flavored officials and organizations, helping her to advance movement goals without compromising movement principles. That’s a rare and valuable talent, and it should make her a uniquely effective councilmember.
Hernández would also bring a fresh energy to CD 1, which has suffered under the negligence of incumbent Councilmember Gil Cedillo for the past nine years. Residents all over CD 1 share similar complaints about Cedillo’s office ignoring requests for help and the relentless pace of gentrification. Hernandez’s experience with budgeting and writing compassionate legislation in partnership with the community would also seriously challenge a City Council that has long worked primarily for developers and special interests.
Cedillo has primarily distinguished himself by being one of the most corrupt politicians in LA not currently under indictment by the FBI. As the chair of City Council’s Housing Committee since 2013, Cedillo is considered just as cozy with real estate developers as former Councilmember Jose Huizar (who is under a 34-count indictment on federal corruption charges, which is beautifully explained in the L.A. Taco podcast “The Sellout”). And his intense aversion to any kind of street safety improvements for walkers or bikers have quite literally cost people their lives.
Cedillo is bad for Los Angeles and CD 1 deserves better representation.
City Council District 3: No Recommendation
Incumbent Bob Blumenfield has been the city councilmember for CD 3 since 2013. Despite some efforts to tackle climate change like ”cool pavements” to reduce heat islands and his support of the Los Angeles Green New Deal, Blumenfield continually shows himself to be pro-police and anti-unhoused.
He co-authored the 41.18 motion, extending the life of the previously deemed unconstitutional ordinance that makes it illegal to “sit, lie, or sleep in or upon any street, sidewalk, or other public way.” He supports funding the police, and even recently invested $100,000 in LAPD overtime to deal with speeding in his district.
Scott Silverstein has spent most of his career as a board member and chairman of the Child Development Institute (he also served 14 years — the last five as president — on the Woodland Hills Warner Center Neighborhood Council). He is seemingly just as pro-police as incumbent Blumenfield. Silverstein supports “enhancing” public safety, which is often code for increasing the police budget.
Silverstein’s homelessness policy is something he calls “M.O.R.E.,” which stands for Mental Health Over Real Estate. (Just what LA politics needs, more acronyms.) The M.O.R.E. plan would use private entities to purchase properties and lease them back to the city, while the city can use the funds they would have spent buying properties on mental health services. This platform has no additional plans for affordable or public housing.
Both candidates are bad options here.
City Council District 5: Katy Young Yaroslavsky
CD 5 is the whitest and second wealthiest district in LA, but still has a slight majority of renters.
A UCLA-trained attorney and LA native, Katy Young Yaroslavsky has been the architect of environmental policies that have made real differences in the fight against climate catastrophe. Her work with the Climate Action Reserve, the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl (particularly on Measure W: The Safe, Clean Water Program), and the Clean Power Alliance has been instrumental in carrying out Green New Deal actions for a just transition away from fossil fuels. Challenging existing systems and infrastructure takes a relentless nature, a sharp eye for policy detail, and a steady focus on long-term goals. Young Yaroslavsky has proven herself to be ably suited to the work, and we have no doubt she will carry those skills to City Council.
Young Yaroslavsky has also demonstrated a genuine interest in engagement with community and activist groups, even when such engagement offers little in the way of short-term political gain. This augurs well for building co-governance relationships in office, which is good because Young Yaroslavsky is far from perfect. Knock LA disagrees with some of Young Yaroslavsky’s statements on LA municipal ordinance 41.18, which brutally criminalizes unhoused people and discourages long term solutions to homelessness. She is on the record saying both “it’s not going to solve homelessness,” and “if it’s paired with deep social work and street engagement, it could be a helpful tool.” If she is elected, community engagement and pressure will be needed to push her in a progressive direction.
Former Mid City West Neighborhood Council board chair Scott Epstein has done good work to improve transportation in the area.
Attorney Sam Yebri is so pro-cop, CD 15 councilmember and former LAPD officer Joe Buscaino endorsed him. Yebri proudly and enthusiastically supports the nightmare that is 41.18. He recently compared DSA to the KKK and Hamas. Yebri would undoubtedly support spiraling police budgets and other neoliberal policies that will increase crime and the suffering of Angelenos.
Law school professor Jimmy Biblarz impressed us with his stances and policy goals, but struck us as more interested in movement work rather than connected to it. While he was raised in LA, Biblarz has only lived in LA as an adult for two years and lacks strong roots in the community that would keep him accountable while in office.
City Council District 7: Elisa Avalos
Incumbent Monica Rodriguez has a decent track record.
She has worked with respected community groups such as Tía Chucha’s Centro Cultural to solicit community input on bike path improvements and with Pacoima Beautiful on streetscape improvements, including more shade trees and sidewalks, to allow better access to transit. She called for the LAPD to draft a report on all shootings by officers in 2021 after the fatal shooting of 14-year-old Valentina Orellana Peralta.
Still, Councilmember Rodriguez leaves a lot to be desired by progressives. Residents in the San Fernando Gardens public housing project have not had success in getting her to meet and engage with them. They also say that her office has not been as responsive to them as they’d wish. She co-introduced resolutions to enforce the brutal anti-homeless measure 41.18, a motion that criminalizes “sitting, lying, sleeping, and storing personal property” in certain areas.
Not having the scandals of some of her City Hall colleagues, she’s all but certain to be reelected.
As the president of the Pacoima Neighborhood Council, Elisa Avalos, the only challenger, is a passionate advocate for the community. She worked with stakeholders to pass a resolution asking the Metro board to evaluate alternatives to demolishing Pacoima’s central shopping district for the East San Fernando Valley transit project. She also calls for mental health incident units to supplement police response and for community oversight of police.
Knock LA disagrees with Avalos on housing: her priority is single-family zoning, ours is public and social housing. But voting for her is a way to let Rodriguez know that constituents support a holistic approach to addressing issues involving policing, unhoused people, and transit.
City Council District 9: Adriana Cabrera (write in)
CD 9 Councilmember Curren Price has amassed a troubling record in his nine years on City Council. He has pushed for approval of controversial housing developments, including two built by his campaign donor Ventus Group, that have displaced low-income tenants. He has also cast votes in favor of developers who were at the same time paying his spouse for consulting services. It’s no surprise that he remains under investigation by the FBI for corruption.
Price’s leadership has also been lacking in the aftermath of the LAPD detonating a massive amount of fireworks on East 27th Street, causing significant destruction, with residents saying their lives are still a mess 10 months later.
While challenger Dulce Vasquez initially impressed us with her opposition to criminalizing our unhoused neighbors, several factors have caused Knock LA to grow leery of Vasquez’s commitment to progressive causes, including her support from former GOP Mayor Richard Riordan and pro-luxury development group CA YIMBY, her use of the same unsavory campaign consultants as Councilmember Joe Buscaino, her hesitancy to call herself a progressive, her conflict of interest as a landlord, her inaccurate claim of working as an educator, and her support for Airbnb despite its role in fueling LA’s housing crises.
With voters in this South Central district lacking an authentic progressive option on the ballot, Knock LA recommends official write-in candidate and longtime community activist Adriana Cabrera, who has a rich history of community and political organizing that has helped her neighbors survive and prosper.
In her professional career, she most recently worked for the City as a neighborhood empowerment advocate. She is a coordinator of the DSA-LA South Central Branch, a member of the South Central LA Tenants Union, and co-founder of South Central Mutual Aid. Her platform prioritizes housing as a human right, a care-first public safety model, and free public transit.
City Council District 11: Erin Darling
Los Angeles’ Westside, a region famous for its bohemian acceptance of all cultures and lifestyles, has become (as culturally rich enclaves, especially ones with ocean views, often do) extremely wealthy and extremely white.
Decades of redlining, restrictive zoning, international capital influx, and plain ol’ gentrification have culminated in the searing contrast of visible homelessness against multimillion-dollar property values. This year’s vote may as well be a yes-or-no referendum on progressive Westside values.
This race is inextricably tied to a person not running in it: the council’s most vocal progressive, Mike Bonin, who fended off a well-funded recall effort, only to announce his withdrawal of his bid for another term due to personal reasons.
This left a field that can be mostly divided into two camps: reactionaries that sought to rid the council of its left flank, and ambitious strivers who saw in Bonin’s exit an opportunity (including one who has fundraised out of state as the race’s progressive option while supporting the Gascón recall).
One candidate promises something better — a genuine continuation of Bonin’s staunch progressive values. Civil rights lawyer Erin Darling was recruited into the race by progressives who were unhappy with the field after Bonin withdrew.
A born-and-raised Venetian, Darling has used his top-10 law school credentials to protect renters, hold the County to account when it tried to shortchange public benefit recipients, and defend Black Lives Matter principles in court. He’s endorsed by Ground Game LA.
Many in the race seem to think the winner will be whomever promises to build a wall around the district and reinvest in the enforcement-led approach that’s driven LA’s homelessness crisis; Darling, by contrast, is committed to a compassionate approach of following best practices and treating the root causes of homelessness.
In the battle for the soul of the Westside, progressivism needs a fighter, and for that reason, we strongly recommend voting for Erin Darling.
City Council District 13: Hugo Soto-Martinez
Hugo Soto-Martinez is an exciting, progressive candidate for a district whose governance has, for too long, been at odds with its constituents. By presidential vote, it is one of the most progressive districts in the city. By housing type, it is one of the most renter-heavy. And yet, for almost a decade, it’s been misrepresented by Mitch O’Farrell, an alumnus of Eric Garcetti’s office who has been on the wrong side of just about every issue that’s come before him.
While some of his colleagues sought to pass a true pandemic eviction protection for renters, O’Farrell cast a deciding vote to defeat it, forcing City Council to pass a weaker proposal instead. When his colleagues introduced legislation to improve LA’s homelessness response and provide more services, O’Farrell gutted the motion and turned it into a handout for the sanitation department.
And while some of his colleagues have prioritized responding to homelessness by providing services to unhoused residents, O’Farrell spent millions of dollars on a violent, cop-led sweep at Echo Park Lake that, horrifically, resulted in nearly as many deaths (7) as long-term housings (13) among the unhoused residents it displaced.
All told, his work to gentrify CD 13 has made it one of the few districts in the city to actually shrink in population between 2010 and 2020 censuses, as low-income and nonwhite residents were pushed out. It’s all of a piece with O’Farrell’s career as a diligent servant to his district’s major property owners and developers and small cliques of well-organized homeowners, and with his callous disregard for the rest of his district and the city.
Perhaps that’s why the California Apartments Association — i.e., the literal Landlord Lobby — is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV ads to help him out. Or, more accurately, to scare people away from Soto-Martinez.
Born and raised in Los Angeles by Mexican immigrant parents, Hugo Soto-Martinez is an experienced union organizer with UNITE HERE! Local 11 (the hotel and restaurant workers’ union), who has also organized as a member of DSA-LA and NOlympics — and even has localist chops with service on the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council. He bridges the worlds of labor and left activism, worlds which have frequently lined up on opposite sides in Los Angeles — to the detriment of both.
He’s led a campaign that’s inspired nearly 1,000 volunteers to join in support ahead of the primary. For two quarters now, his campaign has outraised the incumbent — and 80% of his donations have been under $100. He’s also made it clear, through his actions, that his belief in co-governance and accountability to community members is more than just lip service, with a campaign operation that has stressed outreach and open decision-making.
He’s endorsed by Dolores Huerta, two sitting progressive councilmembers, a former CD 13 councilmember, DSA, Ground Game LA, and a host of unions, including the teachers’ union. Not only will Soto-Martinez be an enormous improvement over the incumbent, we think his experience and values will make him a crucial component of the emerging progressive bloc on City Council.
Alongside Soto-Martinez, O’Farrell’s weakness has led to a robust field of candidates vying to unseat him. Kate Pynoos, a former policy advisor to departing progressive Councilmember Mike Bonin has at times outraised O’Farrell and is running on her City Hall experience as a wonkish, practical progressive.
Albert Corado, who has been personally and devastatingly impacted by police violence, has run as an unapologetic police abolitionist and a vocal critic of LA’s long history of unchecked police violence. He began organizing protests in response the 2018 killing of his sister Mely Corado by the LAPD, which recklessly fired into a crowded store. He has continued to organize in the community, working with groups such as Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles.
Steve Johnson is a sheriff’s deputy: if you’re interested in voting for O’Farrell (and if you are, then seriously, why are you reading this?!), you might consider giving Johnson your support instead.
Any vote against Mitch O’Farrell is a good one. But a vote for Hugo Soto-Martinez, the labor organizer who scares the bejeezus out of the landlord lobby, is a great one. He’s endorsed by Ground Game LA. Vote for him.
City Council District 15: Bryant Odega
This majority-BIPOC district, which includes Watts, Wilmington, and San Pedro, has been poorly represented by conservative Democrat and former police officer Joe Buscaino for the past 10 years. Yet with “Joey Buckets” opting to launch a now-failing bid for mayor, district residents have an opportunity to elect a representative who better matches their values and priorities.
The choice in this race could not be clearer: only Bryant Odega has shown the urgency and innovative thinking necessary to address housing affordability, climate change, and the other urgent issues in the district. He’s endorsed by Ground Game LA.
To preserve affordable housing, Odega proposes curbing real estate speculation, expanding rent control, creating a city tenants’ bill of rights, and guaranteeing tenants’ right to legal counsel. Odega also proposes creating tens of thousands of new public housing units.
Odega’s Green New Deal plan includes a just transition away from the oil industry with paid job retraining and secure pensions for affected workers. He also shows innovative thinking in other policy areas, including reimagining public safety, addressing food deserts, and rethinking parking tickets.
Odega’s leading opponent, Tim McOsker, represents the tired Democratic establishment that has helped engineer the city’s current woes. A former City Hall staffer and registered lobbyist, McOsker has lobbied on behalf of the LA police association, insurance companies, and hotel owners. His big-business and police-friendly attitude would be more of the same for CD 15 communities that have faced nearly a century of structural and institutional racism.
Danielle Sandoval, a former neighborhood council budget advocate, is light on policy ideas and seems to have a narrow vision of what a city councilmember can do. Anthony Santich is a manager at the Port of Los Angeles who has shown little interest in any communities beyond the port.
Measure BB (Local Preference): Yes
Right now the city allows a preference for local contractors in Los Angeles County or California, so all bidders within the state are given the same amount of consideration.
This amendment would allow the city to consider local businesses based in the City of Los Angeles before outside entities. This wouldn’t guarantee local businesses would win the bid, but it would move them to the front of the line.
Los Angeles is one of the 10 most expensive places to conduct business, and right now local businesses have to compete with contractors based in local cities that have lower costs. This would help level the playing field.
LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
In the last school board election, charter schools spent over $14.9 million to capture the school board seat for District 7, tipping the balance of the school board in their favor. Heavily funded by oligarchs like Michael Bloomberg and the Walton family, charter schools are a self-perpetuating virus that plagues cities — siphoning public money from public schools and setting up educational gated communities for children from fortunate families at the expense of everyone else.
Charter school propaganda co-opts the language of social justice, claiming to be in the business of promoting “educational equity” — when in reality they have routinely failed to improve outcomes for BIPOC students and have ended up devastating the communities they claim to uplift. Many charter schools in Los Angeles are co-located inside of already existing public schools, forcing public school kids into smaller spaces with fewer resources while the charters take more space than they need and refuse to pay for it.
LAUSD faces a lot of challenges in the coming years; it is currently flush with money from COVID relief that will not last nearly long enough, there is a looming possibility of another teachers strike, and there is a serious decline in registered students. It is of paramount importance that voters in LA keep the charter schools from gaining any more seats and elect only candidates that believe in public schools as cornerstones of our communities and city.
A special thanks to Knock LA contributor Carl Petersen, whose extensive coverage of the LAUSD school board on ChangeTheLAUSD.com made much of this research possible.
Board of Education District 2: Rocío Rivas
Dr. Rocío Rivas is LAUSD trustee Jackie Goldberg’s policy deputy. The United Teachers Los Angeles union endorses Dr. Rivas. She calls for a Green New Deal for Public Schools — which would turn them into accessible areas of green space and convert all LAUSD schools to renewable energy, reimagine school safety, and fully staff schools with counselors, psychiatric social workers, librarians, nurses, and aides. She also supports reallocating money from school police to educational programs.
Another candidate, Maria Brenes, is on a leave of absence from serving as the executive director of InnerCity Struggle. The incumbent, charter school supporter Mónica García, endorsed Brenes. Brenes’ husband, who was García’s chief of staff, founded InnerCity Struggle. García attempted to grant InnerCity Struggle $125,000 for its community center and administrative headquarters, but ultimately withdrew amidst criticism. Brenes has organized to defund school police. [Corrections to the affiliations of Brenes and her husband made on May 17, 2022, and additions to Rivas and Brenes regarding school police made on May 18, 2022.]
Miguel Angel Segura is the former director of community engagement for former LAUSD school board president, charter school founder, and convicted felon Ref Rodriguez. Segura is a current school teacher and landlord, and came out of the charter school–sponsored Teach for America program.
Former reality show contestant Erica Vilardi-Espinosa is the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council education chair. Vilardi-Espinosa endorsed misogynist campaign ethics violator David Ryu in 2020.
Board of Education District 4: No Recommendation
Incumbent charter supporter Nick Melvoin began teaching through Teach for America, which funnels students into teaching positions at “in need” schools that are largely charter schools. It’s a way to replace unionized teachers with lower-paid workers at high turnover.
An independent expenditure to support the Melvoin and Gonez campaigns by charter front group “Kids First” already spent half a million, funded by Bill Bloomfield, a businessman who is a major political investor and strong advocate of charter schools. Bloomfield spent over $1 million to attack LAUSD trustee Jackie Goldberg.
Also running are anti-vaxxers Gentille Barkhordarian and charter school teacher Tracey Schroeder. All bad options.
Board of Education District 6: Marvin A. Rodríguez
Teacher, Iraq War veteran, and immigrant Marvin A. Rodríguez says privatizing interests can no longer be “left to weaponize charter schools to undermine our public education system by creating conditions which force our schools to compete for funding and resources.” As a teacher and parent of LAUSD kids, Rodríguez wants to increase the opportunities for parents to engage in schools.
By contrast, incumbent Kelly Gonez shut down Parent Engagement and Special Education committees during the pandemic.
Jesus Arana is a sergeant for the LA School Police Department and a program director for after-school programs in the San Fernando Valley. His main campaign platform is to put more cops in schools and “keep politics out of education.” Because police in schools is not a political decision, obviously.
CITY OF LONG BEACH
Mayor: Raul Cedillo
While current Long Beach councilmembers Suzie Price and Rex Richardson have broken campaign fundraising records and are the front-runners to advance to the general, the best choice for Long Beach is progressive Raul Cedillo. Cedillo believes that Black Lives Matter and that we need to divest from police. He’s the only candidate that doesn’t take money from the fossil fuel industry, real estate developers, or any corporate or special interest groups. Cedillo also recognizes that housing is a human right and that gentrification must not continue to rise.
Price is an Orange County prosecutor whose politics align most closely with right-wing Republicans. She supports citing and criminalizing unhoused folks and is a staunch supporter of the police. A Price victory would be the worst outcome for poor working-class folks.
Richardson is part of the Black political class that’s against real systemic change. He acknowledges that economic and education opportunities lead to safer communities, but still wants the cops to be well supported and funded. He has some union leadership experience and spearheaded the effort to build the Michelle Obama library, which speaks to the type of symbolic politics that we have seen fail poor, Black, and working-class people. While Richardson is less problematic than Price, voters can deal with that in the runoff: Raul Cedillo is the progressive choice in the primary.
Among the other candidates, Deb Mozer believes affordable housing should be balanced with the desire for developers to continue to profit from Long Beach’s coastline, and she loves cops.
Franklin Sims has been an active and vocal critic of current Mayor Robert Garcia. What he lacks in infrastructure and campaign funding, he makes up with tenacity. But he’s still a very long shot.
Joshua Rodriguez is a former Marine who wants to turn all government decisions over to the ballot box and do away with zoning laws. He loves cops too — and wants to give them even more money. He also wants to cite and criminalize unhoused folks.
City Auditor: Dan Miles
An auditor should be willing to be oppositional to the rest of government, uncovering fraud, waste, and abuse. There’s plenty to uncover in Long Beach. The incumbent, Laura Doud, hasn’t done it. To her credit, she bucked the establishment once on the City’s mismanagement of the Queen Mary. However, her own management of public funds has been a problem. She paid over $1.5 million in public funds to two consulting firms for services that were vague at best, and with scant record of deliverables. Not very auditor-like conduct.
Dan Miles joined the race when he learned about the consulting contracts. He’s a certified public accountant with 35 years of experience who audits businesses in Long Beach and the Port of Long Beach. While his Republican Party registration concerns us, his disconnection from the Long Beach political establishment might make him an effective auditor.
City Attorney: Gerrie Schipske
Former City Councilmember Gerrie Schipske previously criticized the police for their malign influence over the city when she was running for mayor. The firefighters’ union has endorsed her. She says she will fight corruption in the city by making funding and campaign donations more transparent.
Dawn McIntosh is the choice of the incumbent, Charlie Parkin, and is generally backed by the city’s establishment, including the Long Beach Police Officers’ Association.
City Prosecutor: George Moyer
George Moyer and Nick Liddi are challengers to incumbent Doug Haubert.
Haubert, a 12-year incumbent, is the establishment candidate endorsed by the Democratic Party. His office has been criticized for discriminating against gay men, bringing retaliatory charges against people who sue the city, and failing to train their attorneys.
By contrast, Moyer is a public defender with an undefeated trial record against Haubert’s office. Moyer has pledged to be a progressive prosecutor, prioritize rehabilitation over jail, end the criminalization of victimless offenses, and take on powerful criminals like wage thieves and slumlords. Both Moyer and Haubert have union support. Moyer is endorsed by Ground Game LA.
Nick Liddi is a current deputy district attorney in the Hardcore Gang unit, and a former deputy city prosecutor under Haubert. He has promised to be a prosecutor instead of a politician — which is a veiled jab at Haubert, who is considered by many to be checked out of the day-to-day operations of his office.
City Council District 1: No Recommendation
After redistricting, City Council District 1 now encompasses all of Long Beach’s area broadly referred to as “downtown,” including the Port of Long Beach. Much of this area has undergone heavy gentrification in the past five years, as multiple new “luxury” apartment buildings have gone up along with the median rent’s sharp increase across the city. Relatedly, it’s also where some of the most visible homeless encampments in the city can be found.
Five candidates are vying for the District 1 seat; the contenders with the biggest campaigns are incumbent Mary Zendejas and business owner Mariela Salgado.
Mary Zendejas’ first term was initially received with celebration, as the first Mexican wheelchair-user elected to public office in the nation. Her platform focuses primarily on accessibility, equitable transit, and practical solutions to homelessness and public health. As a former classmate and transition team member of Republican-turned-Democrat Mayor Robert Garcia, she has powerful political allies in the city; but how much that will help her now that Bobby is running for Congress remains to be seen.
She has donations and endorsements from a broad swath of Democratic Party–affiliated sources, including labor unions, political action committees, and developers. The last remains a concern, as downtown undergoes dramatic gentrification during her term in office.
Mariela Salgado is back in the ring after losing the 2019 CD 1 race to Zendejas by 3,000 votes, and her top critique is one shared by several of the smaller candidates in this race — Mary Zendejas has simply not been responsive or available enough to her constituency. Salgado, a member of the Signal Hill Chamber of Commerce, which is notoriously supportive of the oil wells there, describes herself as a “progressive on some issues” and “moderate on others,” while remaining a “fiscal conservative.”
Among the other candidates, Steven Estrada is a community organizer who describes himself as a communist with clear anti-capitalist, pro-worker positions. Lee Charley has personal experience with homelessness; his policies are a heterogenous mix. Finally, Zack Deere doesn’t have a campaign presence yet.
We don’t recommend candidates who don’t do enough to push back on police budgets and displacement due to gentrification. In this race, that leaves a choice between voting for a candidate who might advocate for policies you want, or voting for the less problematic of the two most viable candidates to influence the outcome of the election.
City Council District 3: Kailee Caruso
This is an open seat with no incumbent and only one candidate who isn’t calling for cops: Kailee Caruso.
Caruso believes that getting to the root of why people commit crime is how we decrease crime. She believes people should have equitable access to healthcare, education, stable jobs, and housing security, which would prevent crime from happening. Caruso believes that rent control in certain areas and a limit on the number of rental homes owned by a single entity are a start to solving the unhoused crisis and making housing in Long Beach affordable.
She wants to create more infrastructure for public transportation, including electric buses and bike lanes, and make Long Beach more accessible to non-drivers throughout the city. Caruso has experience working directly with marginalized folks and understands how to use resources to best help those most in need.
By contrast, Deborah Castro is an advertising agency CEO and advocates for increased resources to the police to maintain quality of life. She believes solving crime should be her main priority.
Mark Gillian also feels that cops need more resources to provide protection. He loves Elon Musk and believes the myth that billionaires and great men will solve all of our current political problems.
Kristen Duggan is a proud member of the prestigious upper-class Long Beach Rowing Association and a small business owner. She worked for Suzie Price as a field deputy during her first term as a councilmember. She stays true to her upper-middle-class suburban values.
Greg Magnuson has been superintendent of schools for Buena Park in Huntington Beach. He’s an educator and a school district executive. He wants to hold unhoused people accountable through homeless court and incentivize their access to services. He has worked closely with school police and wants to hire more cops for LBPD.
Nima J. Novin wants to hire more cops and believes the lack of cops is why there is more crime. He believes in running the city like a fortune 500 company to structure the budget to reflect the top priority, which in his opinion is crime. Novin believes that individuals are key to stopping our current climate catastrophe.
City Council District 5: Linda Valdez
Linda Valdez is an organizer who supports unions and a livable wage. She understands the root causes of homelessness and speaks frankly about Long Beach’s failures on climate action, calling for “clean, renewable energy, with efficient buildings and free, widespread public transit.” She’s “committed to protecting our wetlands, restoring and expanding our green spaces, and ending oil extraction in our neighborhoods and offshore.”
The choice of the pro-cop, pro-gentrification Long Beach Democratic establishment is Megan Kerr, a school board member endorsed by Mayor Robert Garcia and Vice Mayor Rex Richardson.
Emails and personal interviews laid other candidate Ian Patton in the middle of slimy political actors who conspired to try to catch Cindy Allen on video in campaign fraud during her 2020 City Council campaign. Jeannine Bedard has 24 years of law enforcement experience. She’s a Republican who leads with God rhetoric.
City Council District 7: Carlos S. Ovalle
Carlos S. Ovalle is a DSA Long Beach member. He’s the only candidate in the race that addresses the systemic roots of crime and the housing crisis. He doesn’t take corporate money and he has a solid plan for a progressive future in Long Beach.
On the other side, Alex Cortez believes we need to hire more police to solve crime and wants to enforce mandatory cooperation if unhoused folks don’t cooperate with this plan.
The incumbent, Roberto Uranga, is part of the Democratic establishment under whom living in Long Beach became more difficult. Long Beach housing stock decreased 3.2% between 2010 and 2016, a loss of 5,648 units, compared to increases of 2.2% in LA County and 2.8% in California. Uranga secured funds and resources for the district and supported protections for hotel workers. He will likely win reelection, so by voting for Ovalle, we signal to Uranga to pivot further left.
City Council District 9: Joni Ricks-Oddie
Long Beach’s District 9, otherwise known as “North Long Beach,” is the northernmost district in the city, bordered by Compton, Paramount, Bellflower, and Lakewood. The district is broadly working class and mostly residential, with industrial zones bordering the Paramount area.
There are three remaining candidates in this race, after fourth candidate Gus Orozco dropped out in April 2022: Frances “Ginny” Gonzales, Joni Ricks-Oddie, and Raul Nario.
Dr. Joni Ricks-Oddie has the most comprehensive campaign platform and materials accessible to the general public. Her work as a UC Irvine epidemiologist may lend her a pragmatic, data-minded approach to public health and safety that could signal positively for the historically underserved (read: marginalized by wealthy interests) district. Her positions lean slightly progressive; as a former member of the Citizen Police Complaint Commission, she places particular emphasis on the importance of “police reform,” but also the need to reframe conversations on “crime” as matters of public health needing prevention and intervention.
Raul Nario, a real estate agent, offers a campaign somewhat light on fully realized positions. An emphasis on “building a strong relationship” between the community and law enforcement doesn’t read as an especially progressive position in the wake of the last few years of justifiable tensions between communities and police. His solution to homelessness is undetailed and focuses on “fund reallocation” with little elaboration.
Frances “Ginny” Gonzales is trying her hand at a City Council run after an unsuccessful run for city auditor in 2022, but it appears that her campaign is not fully active. While she demonstrated some fairly progressive ideals in the Long Beach Post’s Compare Your Candidates interview series, an absence of prominent or even available campaign materials implies that she may not be a viable candidate.
Long Beach Unified School District
Board of Trustees Area 1: Nubia Flores
Nubia Flores has a record of community engagement as a parent organizer at Long Beach Forward, a progressive community institution that supports unions. She is a parent of a special-education student, supports providing resources for students who don’t speak English, and describes herself as pro-labor. The Teachers Association of Long Beach endorses her.
There are two other candidates for this seat. Sharifa Batts has a doctorate in business administration from Pepperdine University and works at Ports America as the environment, health, and safety director, but there’s not much specificity about her experience or platform on education. Maria Isabel López is a teacher, but like Batts, her website doesn’t give much detail on her policy positions.
Board of Trustees Area 3: Juan Benitez
Juan Benitez is the president of the school board and a professor at California State University, Long Beach. He has the endorsement of the Teachers Association of Long Beach union and is running unopposed.
Board of Trustees Area 5: Diana F. Craighead
The incumbent, Diana F. Craighead, supports the district’s “cautious approach and commitment to following state and local guidelines” on COVID. Craighead previously served as the Long Beach PTA Council’s president.
By contrast, the challenger, Melissa PittsCutler, had a 27-year career in juvenile incarceration and opposes mandates for COVID masks and vaccines in schools.
NEIGHBORING LA CITIES AND DISTRICTS
In smaller cities, Knock LA looked closely at two issues: policing and housing. Knock LA opposes the reelection of every demagogue that called for no confidence — or recall — against the newly elected District Attorney George Gascón because of his justice reforms.
Because not all contests include progressive candidates, in some cases Knock LA recommends candidates that don’t support defunding police but are running against candidates that want to increase funding and prosecution.
Antelope Valley Healthcare District
Measure H (Hospital Bond): Yes
This measure seeks general obligation bonds to help bolster Antelope Valley’s healthcare system. This money will go toward training new healthcare workers, reducing ER wait times, expanding senior services, and improving their online presence.
Most importantly, this money will go toward building a new hospital that’s up to code with California’s earthquake standards. Considering the Antelope Valley is on the San Andreas Fault, this is an emphatic yes. We need safe hospitals and trained personnel if and when the Big One comes.
Arcadia Unified School District
Board of Trustees (vote for no more than 2): Watch the Forum
There are two incumbents, Leigh Chavez and Fenton Eng, and one challenger, Ben Zhang. The incumbents both donated money to Republican candidates in the past. The challenger has support from both Democratic and Republican legislators and says he’ll push for more COVID protections and distance learning options.
Because the Arcadia Teachers Association is unlikely to endorse before the candidate forum they will co-host on May 11, Knock LA recommends that voters watch the forum and go with the recommendations of the teachers’ union.
Look out for the candidate forum on May 26.
Mayor: Anni Marshall
Mayor Anni Marshall’s priorities are alternative water resources, responsive city government, improved infrastructure, reduced traffic noise and congestion, housing, and a balanced budget. By contrast, Mayor Pro-Tem Cinde MacGugan-Cassidy supports Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
City Council (vote for no more than 2): Mary Schickling and Carl Johnson
Mary Schickling is a Southern California Edison compliance analyst. She’s pro-choice and supports Planned Parenthood. She supported Obama and Sanders.
Carl Johnson founded a licensed medicinal cannabis delivery service after organizing for legalization. He believes local governments should focus on infrastructure, entitlements for housing, and protection (sheriff/fire). He lost a city council race in 2020. He claims he’ll hold the Sheriff’s Department accountable and has raised concerns about the cost of reserve deputies.
Incumbent Michael Ponce supports LGBTQ rights, but Avalon housing costs have skyrocketed during his term, displacing some longtime residents who aren’t wealthy. Ponce voted against restricting short-term home rentals for tourists.
Oley Olsen is a retired former city councilmember. He’s against high-rises, but wants to address local housing needs and keep a mix of visitor types to generate jobs. This includes limiting ship size, opposing 5,000-passenger ships.
Measure S (Sales Tax): Yes
Avalon has a relatively small tax base centered mostly on hotels and restaurants. Because the hospitality industry took a big hit during the pandemic, the city’s coffers suffered. This 0.25% (quarter of a percent) sales tax would help stabilize their general fund.
Measure TT (Visitor Tax): Yes
This would raise the tax rate on rooms at any hotel, short-term rental, or similar lodging within city limits by one percentage point, from 12% to 13%. This tax would be collected from guests staying fewer than 30 days at the time of rental. This is a way to raise money that won’t fall on residents, only visitors.
City Council (vote for no more than 2): Nestor Enrique Valencia
Former councilmember Nestor Enrique Valencia led the council to authorize a temporary shelter. He founded the Bell Resident Club, which opposes the sale of city-owned public housing (mobile home parks) and criticizes the police department, campaigning to replace it with a new regional police force. He is an immigrant and was the only renter on the council.
Incumbent Alicia Romero is an LAUSD administrator.
Another incumbent, Ana Maria Quintana, is a real estate broker and attorney who took money from police associations as well as from oligarch and charter school enthusiast Bill Bloomfield. Quintana is also a former member of Assemblymember Christina Garcia’s group, Bell Association to Stop the Abuse (BASTA), which was criticized by the Bell Resident Club as being a front for the Bell Police Association run by aspiring politicians and professional insiders.
Marcos A. Oliva has been the BASTA Facebook page administrator. A frequent poster on that page from his personal account, Oliva seems to be a Larry Elder supporter and skeptical of COVID vaccines and Biden’s election.
City Treasurer: No Recommendation
Knock LA doesn’t have enough information on the candidates to make a recommendation.
City Council (vote for no more than 3): No Recommendation
As all the candidates actively support efforts to recall progressive District Attorney George Gascón because they oppose his criminal justice reforms, Knock LA recommends none of them.
Possible harm reduction: Andy Licht is the only candidate not actively campaigning on expanding camera surveillance throughout Beverly Hills.
Measure TL (Term Limit): Yes
Anyone can get entrenched if they stay in one position too long. We need to create room for community members to come in with fresh perspectives and update policies accordingly.
City Council (vote for no more than 3): Kevin Lainez
Commerce, known for the Citadel mall, is 95% Chicanx and working class, with under 13,000 residents in a mostly industrial area. Commerce provides free transit, senior rent subsidies, and a fully staffed, all-inclusive resort camp exclusively for residents, paid for largely by taxes from the Commerce Casino and Hotel, the Citadel, and industry. Commerce stands apart from other Gateway Cities because it hasn’t fallen victim to as much corruption as Vernon, Bell, South Gate, and Cudahy, but that doesn’t mean that this radical public service enclave is immune to bad and bizarre governance.
Incumbent Leonard Mendoza was removed as mayor by the City Council for abusing his position by using City stationery to promote his election campaign and receive contributions. Ivan Altamirano accused Mendoza of assault. This followed a fight Mendoza started in a bar (a video shows Mendoza being carried out on a stretcher). Not only is Mendoza still running, but the Democratic Party still endorsed him after this.
While fellow incumbent Ivan Altamirano expanded bus routes to include the Citadel and Downtown LA and closed a CREA trash incinerator, he was fined $15,500 for campaign finance disclosure problems and conflicts of interest after voting several times to appoint his sister to the city’s Planning Commission. Altamirano was also involved in a brawl and was accused alongside outgoing Councilmember John Soria by current Councilmember Hugo Argumedo of attacking both Mendoza and him. A lawsuit filed by From the Earth, LLC, claims Altamirano was involved in an extortion kickback involving convicted felon and disgraced former Bell City Councilmember Mario Beltran. Altamirano is also a close ally of former Councilmember Tina Baca Del Rio, who got the largest-ever financial penalty against a sitting California local official. He’s also a landlord.
By contrast, former Planning Commission chair Kevin Lainez wants to implement solar panels on city properties and work with civic leaders to hold factories accountable for pollution. He also wants to increase city support of a first-time homebuyer’s program, and “enhance” seniors’ rent subsidies. He is endorsed by current Commerce Mayor Oralia Rebollo.
Of the remaining candidates, Mireya Garcia is Parks & Recreation Commission chair. Yvette Gaytan is an Archdiocese of LA paralegal. Alfonso Garate Jr. describes himself as a “lifelong resident of Commerce” and owns a language interpretation business. He donated $250 to Altamirano’s Assembly campaign against Christina Garcia. He’s also donated to Altamirano’s current 2022 campaign, and Altamirano’s campaign has donated to Garate’s campaign.
Compton Unified School District
Board of Trustees Area A: Denzell O. Perry
The teachers’ union, Compton Education Association, endorses Denzell O. Perry in Area A. He grew up in Compton public schools, studied law, and currently works in human resources at Target, which might be useful in digging into the top heavy tier of highly paid administrators that cost Compton schools badly needed money. The reason why he does not call to eliminate the Compton school police is because the default agency in the area is the sheriff’s department, whose Compton Station has been implicated in deputy gang activity and shootings. Although he is not opposed to charter schools, the teachers’ union endorsed him to bring accountability and oversight to the district.
Of the other candidates, LaQuisha Anderson was born and raised in Compton. She was a PTA Council President in another school district and serves as the California liaison to the Compton PTA for the Precious Unique Foundation, which helps teen moms in high school find transitional safe-haven homes. She does not appear to have a campaign website. Another candidate, Adrian Cleveland, is endorsed by some of the current school board members that the teachers’ union is trying to vote out.
Board of Trustees Area E: Adrienne Marie Thomas
The teachers’ union, Compton Education Association, endorses Adrienne Marie Thomas in Area E. She criticizes the current board majority for not exercising more oversight and accountability so charter schools don’t abuse the system.
The boom in charter schools is draining enrollment in Compton public schools, which leads to fewer resources for the remaining students, many of whom have special needs that the charter schools refuse to meet. The incumbent trustee is Alma Taylor-Pleasant.
Board of Trustees Area G: Mary L. Jackson-Freeny
The teachers’ union, Compton Education Association, endorsed Mary L. Jackson-Freeny in Area G. She is a retired social worker with decades of experience working on the mental health needs of students in LA public schools. She associates charter schools with investors, which cherry pick top performing students to artificially boost their test score averages, while removing special needs students.
The incumbent trustee is Satra D. Zurita.
City Clerk: No Recommendation
Incumbent Mary Walczak has no campaign website and has not accepted any campaign donations.
Her rival, Andrew “Drew” Aleman, is a community college instructor who’s running on transparency and accountability. His top priorities are compassionate solutions for unhoused people, fiscal accountability, transparency in the campaign finance system, and stricter rules on campaign donations.
City Treasurer: Neil Polzin
Neil Polzin is running on a transparency platform against campaign donations from developers and contractors, who donated heavily to incumbents in previous council races. He wants to divest from the fossil fuel industry and invest in green technologies instead. Polzin claims poor management of city investments lost revenue, and hopes that through better management the city could afford to sunset its 6% tax.
Incumbent Geoffrey Cobbett has no campaign information to speak of, but his personal Facebook page features numerous posts that have fact-checker disclaimers and clips from Fox News.
City Council District 1: Jonathon Harris
Jonathon Harris is the chief human resources officer at The People Concern, a social services agency contracted with LA County.
Hector Delgado is a Teamsters Local 986 business representative and volunteer police officer with an undisclosed “local police department.” Martin Dominguez commented on the development of the Covina Bowl into townhomes and applied for a vacancy on the Covina City Council.
City Council District 3: Damian Catalan
Damian Catalan donated money to Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign. By contrast, incumbent Victor Linares ran on a “pro-business” campaign backed by GROW Elect, which supports Latine Republican candidates, including current Councilmember Patricia Cortez and Representative Mike Garcia.
Linares voted for “no confidence” against District Attorney George Gascón. Finally, Joseph Rodriguez is extremely pro-police, with a passage on his website scapegoating George Gascón. He also claims to have “put a stop” to Project Roomkey’s use of a hotel.
City Council District 5: No Recommendation
Incumbent John King is running unopposed. He’s a senior manager at Southern California Edison and on the Los Angeles County Sanitation District Board. He voted for “no confidence” against District Attorney George Gascón.
Mayor: No Recommendation
The incumbent, Tasha Cerda, is unopposed.
City Clerk: No Recommendation
The incumbent, Mina Semenza, is unopposed.
City Treasurer: Louis Enriquez
Louis Enriquez is engaged with local politics and didn’t vote to re-elect terrible District Attorney Jackie Lacey in 2020. Another candidate, Kathleen “Suzy” Evans, previously ran in 2017. She explained her vision to a newspaper as, “I’d probably run the Treasurer’s Office more like it was a business.”
The other candidate, Guy Hajime Mato, is a private investigator and retired sheriff’s deputy. Vote for Enriquez.
City Council (vote for no more than 2): Wanda Love
Wanda Love is the only candidate speaking out against the police association: “Our police officers should not be actively campaigning for the Current Elected officials. They are hired to protect and serve, not get involved in our local politics. None of the officers LIVE in Gardena.”
By contrast, incumbent Harout (Art) Kaskanian posts more about cops than anything else, and posted nothing about stopping police killings during the summer of 2020; incumbent Rodney Tanaka is a retired cop.
City Clerk: Suzie Abajian
Dr. Suzie Abajian is a teacher and former South Pasadena Unified School District trustee and board clerk who had to resign when she moved to Glendale. She has a PhD in education and is endorsed by the Glendale Teachers Association and Glendale City Councilmember Daniel Brotman.
Her opponent, Greg Krikorian, is endorsed by the Glendale Police Officers Association.
City Treasurer: Rafi Manoukian
Incumbent Rafi Manoukian is unopposed and has a long record of service in civic government.
City Council (vote for no more than 3): Dan Brotman, Karen Kwak, Elen Asatryan
Incumbent Dan Brotman is best known as a climate justice advocate who won a substantial COVID relief package for renters.
Karen Kwak is an organizer with the Glendale Tenants Union who advocates progressive policies such as rent control, police accountability, living wages, and climate action.
Brotman and Kwak are endorsed by Ground Game LA.
Elen Asatryan also protested against new fossil fuel equipment at the city power plant. She likely has the best chance of winning among the challengers.
Of the other candidates, Republican incumbent Ara Najarian has a good record on climate and transit policies; as a Metro board member, he had the courage to oppose efforts to eliminate a bus lane in Burbank.
By contrast, Democratic incumbent Vrej Agajanian is pro–fossil fuel, pro-cop, and anti–rent control. Challengers Anita Quiñonez Gabrielian and Jordan Henry want to give more money to cops, and Isabel Valencia-Tevanyan is not running a viable campaign.
Glendale Unified School District
Board of Trustees Area B: Ingrid Gunnell
The Glendale Teachers Association endorsed Ingrid Gunnell, who was a teacher for many years and has a track record of pro-teacher advocacy.
The Glendale Police Officers Association endorsed her opponent, Lerna Amiryans.
Board of Trustees Area C: Kathleen Cross
Cops endorsed incumbent Armina Gharpetian, a dentist. The Glendale Teachers Association endorsed the challenger, Kathleen Cross, a social worker with a significant list of civic activities.
Board of Trustees Area D: Shant Sahakian
The Glendale Teachers Association endorsed incumbent Shant Sahakian, who is unopposed.
Measure T (Term Limit): Yes
Term limits are generally positive, especially in a field like education which should be examined and updated more regularly. Our education system is outdated and would be well served by a more regular turnover, to ensure fresh eyes can help keep the vision current.
City Council (vote for no more than 2): Vicente Cadena
Vicente Cadena, a US postal employee, is running against two establishment politicians with sordid pasts.
According to the LA Times, back in 2015, candidate Karina Macias raised money for a state Assembly candidate “from people linked to companies that were awarded contracts by Macias and Huntington Park’s council majority, which included the city’s bus service and dial-a-ride operator, its street sweeping and bus stop maintenance vendor, and a towing company.”
She received a percentage of what she raised for said candidate, who ultimately decided not to run.
Although prosecutors decided this arrangement might not be a violation of the law, it raises enough concern for Knock LA to not recommend voting for her. She was also accused of corruption by protesters on another issue.
Together with the other incumbent, Manuel “Manny” Avila, Macias endorsed Eli Vera for Sheriff. Avila and Macias are offering seniors $200 a month for a year through the Huntington Park Senior Income Program, which some organizations like The Metro Watch have interpreted as a form of voting bribery.
La Cañada Flintridge
City Council (vote for no more than 2): Kim Bowman
Kim Bowman is a nonprofit attorney in the US Air Force reserves and on the La Cañada Flintridge Parks and Recreation Commission.
He believes police should be “trained, vaccinated, body camera-wearing deputies” and that there should be an established mental health response for people in crisis, rather than punishing someone for their illness. He is the only candidate who has an environmental plan or even mentions the environment in his platform.
Incumbent Mike Davitt is a pro-cop real estate director who wants more safety cameras throughout the city, more patrols for crime suppression, and to complete the sheriff’s department emergency operations mobile command center.
Jack Schaedel is an employment lawyer who wants to keep the city’s contract with the sheriff’s department and install controversial Flock camera technology that would give police the power to scan license plates at an unprecedented rate. On social media, he calls for people to “back the blue,” demands “no more woke BS,” and retweets Marco Rubio.
Marija Decker is an employment lawyer and pilates instructor. She supports the sheriff’s department and their Flock technology, neighborhood watch programs, and a business-friendly environment. Vote for Bowman.
City Council District 2: No Recommendation
Incumbent Andrew Sarega is a former cop who loves to tweet with the #MAGA hashtag. He admitted to six campaign finance violations.
As for the other candidates, Chris Pflanzer’s only tangible policy is improving parks, but his pro-cop stance and lack of proposals makes him less desirable than David Constantine.
Constantine wants a first-time homebuyer program and to hold commercial landlords accountable for leaving property vacant and in disrepair, but within that seemingly good policy, he takes a shot at unhoused people. And he’s pro-cop.
City Council District 1: Muir Davis
Incumbent Muir Davis has been a councilmember for five years. He works at Southern California Edison as a senior adviser of business and process improvement and advocates for public banking, alternative transportation, green investments, improving accessibility, walkability, and cycling safety.
Davis supports switching from electing to rotating who is the mayor, and he opposed a vote of no confidence against progressive District Attorney George Gascón, a courageous stance in a conservative community.
Steve Johnson is a former councilmember who stepped down after a trial investigating a conflict of interest, specifically regarding his vote on the expansion of the University of La Verne. He’s self-employed in the insurance field. He’s running to elect the mayor, instead of rotating the office among councilmembers.
City Council District 3: No Recommendation
Meshal “Kash” Kashifalghita was in law enforcement for 22 years. He supports firefighters and cops advocating for law-and-order policies. He claims increases in crime are due to failures in our county judicial systems and that the Metro Gold Line extension increased the homeless population and crime.
He promises to prevent the building or expansion of Camp Paige, Afflerbaugh, or any proposed prison facility in the city, on the principle that it will be “bad for the city.” Given that Kashifalghita also opposes allowing homeless people in La Verne, it seems like his anti-prison building stance is more about not letting in the “wrong element.” So, although the LA County Federation of Labor endorsed him, Knock LA doesn’t recommend him.
Joe Gabaldon is just as pro-cop. He’s a chief operating officer for a coding curriculum company working with schools across the country. His platforms are very vague, with not many specifics of what he wants to do. He is definitely pro-police and pro–Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
City Council District 5: Rich Gill
Incumbent Tim Hepburn manages his own electrical contracting company. He pushed for the no confidence motion against progressive District Attorney George Gascón, accusing Gascón of “making it that the criminals have more rights than the victims.” He endorsed Meshal “Kash” Kashifalghita and Steve Johnson, who are like-minded candidates.
Estella V. Maldonado was a Dreamer under Reagan. She’s a security and cyber risk program manager at Delta Dental. Her issues include the Gold Line Train station bringing “unhoused transients” to the city. She wants to reinstate all pre-COVID city programs.
Rich Gill is a videographer who tapes city council meetings. Although the only issue he focuses on is electing mayors directly (which Knock LA supports in Monrovia), Knock LA recommends him because he’s the only candidate for this seat who neither has a record of attacking Gascón over justice reforms, nor speaking demagogically about unhoused people.
City Council District 1: No Recommendation
Incumbent Todd Rogers is a retired sheriff’s deputy who has a ”tough on crime” reputation, while the challenger, Michelle Hamlin, is a religious homeschooler who opposes mask mandates.
Hamlin pushed to recall the new progressive district attorney, George Gascón, while Rogers initially opposed the recall, switching his position under pressure. To his credit, Rogers hosted a speaker who, in response to the 2020 national uprising against police violence, underscored that “the Black community does not need to change. We need to change. … Our institutions need to change.”
Ironically, the harm-reduction choice here might be to vote for Rogers, the retired deputy.
City Council District 2: No Recommendation
Incumbent Steve Croft is endorsed by the Association of LA Deputy Sheriffs, the Building and Construction Trades, and the head of the chamber of commerce.
One challenger, Gregory Slaughter, wants to use more reserve deputies from the sheriff’s department. A retired police lieutenant, Slaughter himself served as a reserve deputy.
The other challenger, Laura Sanchez Ramirez, is a school board member who says the area has faced numerous challenges, including “Increased Criminal Homeless Encampments.”
City Council District 5: Cassandra Chase
This is a new, open seat covering most of Lakewood east of the I-605 Freeway. Cassandra Chase is endorsed by Councilmember Jeff Wood. While Chase might be open to exploring alternative programs for public safety, she opposes a reduction in spending on sheriff’s deputies.
The other candidate, Veronica Lucio, calls for more patrols by cops and is endorsed by a cop union and a majority of the city council.
Little Lake City School District
Measure LL (School Bond): Yes
Little Lake City School District needs a lot of help repairing their schools and bringing them up to code. The laundry list of items include basic necessities like improving plumbing and ventilation, removing asbestos and mold, and providing safe drinking water.
The district is proposing to pay for these repairs with bonds paid via property taxes. Property tax rates would increase by 0.03%, so for every $100,000 in assessed value, this would increase their taxes by $30. This is a relatively small increase to help the district’s children and staff who spend most of their days in these schools.
Measure R (Term Limit): No
While this measure appears to establish term limits, it would actually undo the existing limits, allowing the current Lynwood City Council members to serve longer than they otherwise could. A yes vote purports to limit them to three consecutive terms, but in fact Lynwood voters already enacted a limit of two terms in 2008. By placing this measure on the ballot this June, the City Council allows one incumbent, Jose Luis Solache, to run for a third term this fall if voters approve Measure R. We don’t want to see people become too entrenched and grow so comfortable that they lose perspective and won’t enact necessary change. Knock LA recommends keeping the current two-term limit by voting No. [Changed from Yes to No with updated text on May 17, 2022.]
Measure A (Parcel Tax): No Recommendation
The City of Manhattan Beach is requesting a flat tax hike of $1,095 per parcel per year for 12 years, adjusted for inflation, to fund schools.
The problem with parcel taxes is property owners are taxed a flat amount, regardless of whether they’re homeowners, owners of a mall, or owners of a $20 million office building. This is a regressive tax, but low-income residents or seniors who use the parcel as their primary residence would be exempt.
This tax favors big commercial property owners over homeowners, and would further skew the inequitable distribution of resources to schools in wealthy areas like Manhattan Beach, versus working-class communities.
Mayor: No Recommendation
Councilmember Becky Shevlin’s vote enabled a “no confidence” motion against District Attorney George Gascón to pass 3–2. Her rival, Stephen Grollnek, likely is worse: he believes that defendants are “coddled,” and opposes rent control and phasing out fossil fuels.
City Clerk: Alice Atkins
Incumbent Alice Atkins is unopposed and has a reputation for responsiveness to community members.
City Treasurer: No Recommendation
Incumbent Stephen Baker died in April. Because he was unopposed, the city council will appoint a replacement.
City Council (vote for no more than 2): Tamala Kelly and Sasha Zaroyan
Dr. Tamala Kelly is a pastor with a doctor of ministry degree whose platform centers housing justice with inclusionary zoning, setting aside 20% of units for affordable housing. Kelly wants to build new multi-unit housing across the city, instead of in one area, protecting tenants, preventing rent gouging, and incentivizing new accessory dwelling units for low-income tenants. She also calls for a full-time psychiatrist and social worker to ride with the police.
Sasha Zaroyan has a master’s of public administration and worked on mental health and homelessness. His platform also centers housing justice, calling for safe parking for unhoused people, affordable housing incentives, and a tenant anti-harassment ordinance.
Of the others, Edward Belden, president of the Monrovia Parks, Wilderness, and Recreation Foundation, calls for climate action. Genia Mills wants Monrovia’s Mental Evaluation Team to operate 24/7. Sergio Jimenez wants “to give local law enforcement and firefighters all the resources they need to perform the job.” And while incumbent Larry Spicer had the courage to vote against the no confidence motion against George Gascón, he doesn’t identify specific policies to promote affordable housing.
Measure RM (Rotating Mayor): No
A “yes” vote supports authorizing the adoption of an ordinance which would eliminate elections for the mayor of Monrovia and establish a rotation of city councilmembers to fill the offices of mayor and mayor pro tempore.
A “no” vote keeps the mayor directly elected by the people every two years. Keeping the mayor directly elected provides more accountability.
City Council (vote for no more than 2): Jose De León and Yesenia Maria Cuarenta
Jose De León is an immigrant and activist against air pollution from industrial facilities in Paramount. Yesenia Maria Cuarenta is a teacher on the Paramount School Board who has been willing to stand up to local power broker Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.
Rendon and the former chamber of commerce president endorse the incumbent, Peggy Lemons, who supports the expansion of an oil refinery in Paramount. Lemons also supports another candidate, Annette Delgadillo.
Some local activists view candidates Linda Timmons and Tony Rodrick Warfield as aligned with the local political establishment. Timmons has the Democratic Party endorsement, which here normally would require votes from Rendon’s delegates, so she likely will support him.
Paramount Unified School District
Board of Trustees special election: No Recommendation
Eddie Cruz is endorsed by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and the Teachers Association of Paramount.
The other candidate, Sandra Nilda Cuevas, is a social worker who will prioritize counseling rather than punishment of students who engage in violence. At a Paramount Tenants Union candidate forum in 2020, she described her campaign as self-funded.
Her top three priorities are parent engagement, special education individualized education programs (IEPs), and meeting the social-emotional needs of students. However, she supports charter schools.
Over the last year, the Pasadena Tenant Justice Coalition has worked to get a substantial rent control measure (the Pasadena Fair and Equitable Housing Charter Amendment) on the November ballot.
Pasadena is experiencing record-high rents, and the Pasadena City Council recently voted to sunset a COVID-19 moratorium on evictions beginning June 30. The ordinance requires tenants to repay any back-rent owed within six months of the moratorium’s end. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Pasadena is $2,195, which means that renters that have been unable to pay full rent during the now two-year-long pandemic could potentially need to cough up tens of thousands of dollars or face eviction on January 1, 2023.
Over the past month alone, the average rent for a studio apartment surpassed the rent on one-bedrooms in Pasadena after increasing by a shocking 39% to $2,348.
City Council District 3: Brandon D. Lamar
Pasadena Human Relations Commission Chair Brandon D. Lamar is a longtime resident with heavy involvement in multiple youth programs. Lamar also serves on the Pasadena NAACP board, and works with Pasadena Organizing for Progress and Leadership Pasadena.
Lamar is running on a campaign for rent control and affordable housing, public safety accountability, and workers’ rights. Lamar has been canvassing over the last year with the Pasadena Tenant Justice Coalition to get a rent control measure on the ballot and would be the only renter on the council.
Incumbent John Kennedy advocated to create the Civilian Police Oversight Commission, but received donations from Orange County real estate interests (ARC Investments and EverElite Realty) and Jason Wang, CEO of Panoptic Development, a company that built several luxury housing units around Pasadena.
Kennedy stated emphatically to rent control organizers that he believes the rent control measure they wrote with public interest lawyers is “flawed,” though he did not say why. His primary business is real estate investment and consulting, according to his Form 700 filing. He owns four properties and has tenants in two of them.
City Council District 5: Jess Rivas
Incumbent Jess Rivas is running unopposed. She supports rent control, cast the lone vote against removing campaign contribution limits, and advocates for renewable energy.
City Council District 7: Jason Lyon
Planning commissioner Jason Lyon endorses the rent control campaign and advocates for long-term housing for homeless residents. He supports prevailing wage agreements and workers’ right to organize, and wants more bike lanes. He believes “we still have work to do to protect the public, keep officers safe, and establish bias-free policing.” He supports the police oversight ordinance.
Pasadena Northwest Commissioner Allen Shay is a Pasadena Association of Realtors Local Government Relationship Committee member. Shay criticized the shooting of Anthony McClain and District Attorney Gascón’s decision not to charge Pasadena cop Edwin Dumaguindin for shooting McClain in the back.
Former Planning Commissioner Ciran Hadjian proposes vacancy control. While this legislation can slow down skyrocketing housing costs, vacancy control is what the state Costa-Hawkins Act prevents cities from doing.
So why didn’t Hadjian endorse the Pasadena Fair and Equitable Housing Charter Amendment, as Lyon has? Hadjian also advocates for more neighborhood watch groups, but studies show that these groups don’t deter crime and increase attacks on minorities.
Pasadena Area Community College District
Under the incumbents, Pasadena City College nearly lost accreditation when the state accrediting agency placed the college on academic probation. Faculty voted no confidence in the college presidents and the board.
Students voted no confidence, too. While PCC likes to talk about student equity, its actions say otherwise, as it ignores faculty socioeconomic equity and guts vocational programs, including graphics and ESL, which have been important for students of color.
Board of Trustees Area 3: Steve Gibson
Dr. Steve Gibson graduated from PCC, then earned a PhD in education. He wrote his dissertation on the injustice of a system that relies predominantly on part-time faculty for cheap labor, which is one of the PCC problems that faculty want to address.
Gibson was a key organizer for the American Friends Service Committee, the Bernie Sanders campaign, and supported other causes like Black Lives Matter, rent control, and Medicare for All. He’s endorsed by the Progressive Asian Network for Action.
Running against incumbent Berlinda Brown, Gibson wants to reverse the steady decimation of vocational education at PCC, decrease the corporatization and high cost of education, increase accountability and transparency of the board and administration, and elevate faculty and staff voices to be equal partners in leadership. He’s a corporate-free candidate that’s endorsed by the faculty union and numerous professors.
Board of Trustees Area 5: Kristine Kwong
Running against incumbent Linda Wah, Kristine Kwong is an education lawyer who wants to restore accountability of the board and improve PCC’s academic climate, returning it to the quality educational institution it once was.
Faculty Association President Mark Whitworth noted, “Kwong’s commitment to open and transparent government coupled with her professional expertise will bring a sorely needed open-mindedness to PCC’s Board of Trustees. For far too long, the district has shut out the voices of campus and community stakeholders, including our faculty. The Faculty Association is confident that Kristine Kwong will improve the quality of education and serve the students, faculty, and staff at Pasadena City College and the community at large.”
Board of Trustees Area 7: Alton Wang
Alton Wang is challenging incumbent Anthony Fellow. Wang advocates for voter rights and good governance. He’s a second-generation Arcadian who attended public schools.
City Council (vote for no more than 3): Joanne Russell Chavez
All three incumbents — Margaret “Maggie” Clark, Sandra Armenta, and Steven Ly — voted for a resolution of no confidence against LA County’s new progressive District Attorney George Gascón. Ly pushed for it and Clark supported it strongly as well, and while Armenta claimed that “balance” is needed, she still voted for it.
In addition, neither Clark nor Ly were supporters of living-wage advocates who organized against the establishment of a Walmart store in the city.
The challenger, Joanne Russell Chavez, is an Alhambra Unified School District trustee. While she doesn’t describe her policy views in detail, and she supported the Villages project that some opposed because they wanted more affordable units and had concerns about contaminated soil, Knock LA believes it’s important to vote out incumbents who stand against Gascón’s justice reforms because that reflects the policies and lack of oversight they have toward their own cops.
Mayor: Ruth N. Luevand
Ruth N. Luevand is a teacher who is endorsed by the LA County Federation of Labor.
The incumbent, Emmett G. Badar, is endorsed by the Association of LA Deputy Sheriffs and Councilmember Ryan A. Vienna, who pushed for a resolution of no confidence against LA County’s new progressive District Attorney George Gascón.
City Council District 2: Eric Nakano
Eric Nakano grew up in San Dimas, worked for the AFL-CIO union federation, and is endorsed by the LA County Federation of Labor. While backing from unions doesn’t mean a candidate is progressive, by contrast, the other candidate, Brandon M. Moon, contributed money to Republican campaigns.
City Council District 4: No Recommendation
There’s no challenger to incumbent Ryan A. Vienna, who pushed for a resolution of no confidence against LA County’s new progressive District Attorney George Gascón.
Measure CC (Appointed City Clerk): No
South Gate is a special case. It not only has a record of city councilmembers convicted and sent to prison, but those councilmembers also tried to remove the city clerk who oversaw local elections.
Even though the trend toward appointed, rather than elected, city clerks generally makes sense, given the need to have well-trained officials, maintaining a separation of powers in South Gate is better.
Mayor: Cliff Numark
Cliff Numark is a Torrance native who was elected to the city council and the El Camino College Board. He opposed recalling George Gascón, but doesn’t agree with Gascón’s reforms.
He wants to protect against dangers from the Torrance Refinery, such as alternatives to the deadly modified hydrofluoric acid (MHF), which can form a lethal low lying cloud that can kill thousands if it leaks. He wants the fire department to monitor the refinery. He also wants to make Torrance more walkable and increase affordable, adaptable housing.
The other candidate, George Chen, is the councilmember who enacted a vote of no confidence against Gascón and supports a recall. He spent thousands of tax dollars to mount a religious phrase in city hall and voted to kill coyotes, even though the city had an effective coyote hazing program that didn’t require killing. He also supports an “anti-camping” ordinance to cite and arrest unhoused people.
City Clerk: No Recommendation
Incumbent Rebecca Poirier is unopposed. Knock LA doesn’t have enough information to make a recommendation, so we’ll share an endorsement by a local newspaper from when she first ran.
City Treasurer: Tim Goodrich
Tim Goodrich is an Air Force combat veteran who co-founded Iraq Veterans Against the War. He cites his experience as a councilmember and a risk manager in his insurance work as qualifications. He proposed replacing the deadly MHF acid from the refinery with a safer alternative. As a progressive, he supported the half-cent sales tax increase and George Gascón’s campaign to become district attorney.
Incumbent Dana Cortez has rarely showed up for her elected role, citing an undisclosed medical condition. A challenger, G. Rick Marshall, wanted to recall her, opposes the sales tax increase, and was in a political action committee that was accused of making a sexist, racist political ad.
Another candidate, Mike Griffiths, is a conservative councilmember and a former chief financial officer who opposes taxes and supports recalling Gascón. Melissa M. Wright, like Goodrich, supports the sales tax increase, albeit reluctantly.
City Council District 1: Jimmy Gow
Several environmental groups endorse Jimmy Gow for this open seat. Like Gow, David Kartsonis also wants the refinery to replace MHF. Jon Kaji, president of a real estate brokerage, also said he is against MHF, but mentioned at a recent forum that he thinks police protect Torrance residents, even though the state is investigating the force for bigoted texts. Dave Zygielbaum is a prosecutor endorsed by the police union.
City Council District 3: Asam Sheikh
This is another open seat. Asam Sheikh wants to replace MHF at the refinery and require police to undergo extensive training, especially about diversity. He is running against Lauren Cotner, a supporter of conservative Councilmember Aurelio Mattucci.
City Council District 5: H. Jean Adelsman
H. Jean Adelsman supports the sales tax increase. She says jailing the unhoused is “heartless” and calls for replacing MHF at the refinery.
The incumbent, Aurelio Mattucci, is a notorious supporter of anti-immigrant former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. Mattucci opposes the sales tax increase, opposes pressuring the refinery to stop using MHF, and supports recalling Gascón and trapping coyotes. Mattucci supports George Chen, Mike Griffiths, and Lauren Cotner, among other candidates.
Measure SST (Sales Tax): Yes
The title (Safe Strong Torrance) makes it sound like it’s designated for cops, but it’s not. Torrance proposed a 0.5% sales tax hike for general government use, which could be used in many ways, depending on who is elected to the city council.
Torrance has a big budget deficit, so if this measure fails, it is likely that they will cut critical social services, such as public transit and libraries. If it passes, it’s unclear how they’ll spend the money, as there’s wiggle room in the measure’s description. It suggests it would be used on local drinking water, pothole repairs, senior services, homelessness, thefts and property crime, and safety at parks, schools, and public areas.
Voting yes means entrusting whomever is elected to decide. We recommend a tepid yes for the sake of keeping services in hopes of progressive candidates winning.
CALIFORNIA STATE LEGISLATURE
It’s another year into the pandemic, but the Legislature failed to pass single-payer Medicare for All (CalCare), restrict evictions by landlords under the Ellis Act, or take any new action to combat climate change. Despite having supermajorities in both chambers, the Democrats continue to disappoint in tackling the state’s most urgent problems, and instead have continued to side with the state’s powerful oil and gas, health insurance, and real estate industries.
Don’t vote for incumbents unless they at the very least support both CalCare and Ellis Act reform. And even if they have a progressive-seeming voting record, a legislative score doesn’t always tell the whole story. Sometimes legislators cause bills to die through amendments or preventing hearings in committee. Follow the money, see who contributes to their campaigns.
California State Senate
SD 20: Caroline Menjivar
Caroline Menjivar is running on a campaign of increasing access to mental health and other supportive services, as well as shutting down the Whiteman Airport to alleviate pollution and noise concerns in the San Fernando Valley, which has three airports total.
But she’s certainly not an ideal candidate. Menjivar is a proponent of tiny homes as a solution to the housing and homelessness crisis. Tiny homes can sometimes be little more than sheds that require residents to adhere to draconian rules of conduct, such as 7:00 PM curfews and nearly nonexistent visitor windows.
Opponent Daniel Hertzberg, however, also supports “doubling down” on tiny homes, and appears to have secured a majority of his funding and endorsement connections through his father, former Speaker of the Assembly Bob Hertzberg (who, incidentally, loved taking money from Big Oil). In fact, Hertzberg Sr.’s accomplishments make up about 30% of the “Meet Daniel” section of Hertzberg Jr.’s campaign website.
Of the remaining candidates, Ely De La Cruz Ayao is an anti-choice real estate broker. Seydi Alejandra Morales seems to have some fine policy proposals, but appears to lack grassroots progressive support.
SD 22: No Recommendation
Incumbent Susan Rubio has deep ties to real estate, oil and gas, and law enforcement, making her hardly a progressive choice. In 2021, Rubio voted against important environmental bills: SB47 to fund the cleanup of old or abandoned oil wells, many with leaks that contaminate the soil and groundwater; AB1346 to phase out gas-powered landscape maintenance equipment; and the AB1395 Climate Crisis Act to achieve carbon neutrality.
The challengers, Kimo Mateo and Vincent Tsai, are conservatives.
SD 24: Ben Allen
Senator Ben Allen’s voting record has been one of the most progressive in a legislature that has dismally underperformed voters’ expectations despite a 75% supermajority held by Democrats. Allen is the author of Senate Constitutional Amendment 2, which would repeal a requirement added to the state constitution (during a backlash against civil rights) that each new public housing construction project must be placed on the ballot and approved by voters.
Unfortunately, he’s been unable to get enough support to move it forward, even from Democrats in the legislature. He’s been a reliable ally on environmental issues too. He’s running unopposed, but even so, he deserves your vote.
Note: Allen was elected to SD 26 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its legislative districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
SD 26: No Recommendation
Maria Elena Durazo is the former secretary-treasurer of the LA County Federation of Labor. She votes almost invariably in line with union leadership. However, because some building trades unions are part of the fossil fuel industry, often she votes against climate action, even though many voters in her district expect her to represent them, not industry.
For example, she publicly argued against AB1395, the Climate Crisis Act. She also co-wrote SB51, which could displace nearly 100 residents living in mismanaged CalTrans homes in El Sereno. She’s unopposed, so she will win.
Note: Durazo was elected to SD 24 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its legislative districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
SD 28: Lola Smallwood-Cuevas
Lola Smallwood-Cuevas is an experienced labor leader and founder of the LA Black Worker Center. Despite running a quiet campaign, Smallwood-Cuevas has raised over $260,000, largely from unions. An effective political operative, Smallwood-Cuevas has also accrued endorsements from a number of powerful unions like SEIU California and influential elected officials like State Senator Sydney Kamlager.
Smallwood-Cuevas appears to be one of the rare insiders intent on using her connections for good. She’s running a pro-labor, public housing, and universal healthcare campaign, plus she supports shutting down the Inglewood Oil Field.
As for the other candidates, Jamaal Gulledge is similar to Smallwood-Cuevas on the issues but lacks institutional support, Kamilah Victoria Moore is a reparations attorney and advocate (which is great) but does not appear to have any outspoken positions on other issues, Cheryl Turner has a classically neoliberal take on solutions to housing and homelessness issues, such as promoting density bonuses and offering tax incentives to private developers, and Joe Lisuzzo supports increasing police spending.
SD 30: Martha Camacho Rodriguez or Henry Bouchot
Incumbent Bob Archuleta is a former paratrooper and police officer, who has done very little during his four years representing this southeast LA County district. Most of the bills he has sponsored have been relatively safe acts of virtue signaling — namely bills to officially recognize anniversaries and culturally significant dates. He refused to support the Climate Crisis Act, as well as a bill to allow police officer decertification, a top priority of Knock LA.
Significantly, in March 2021, a former anonymous staffer accused Archuleta of sexual harassment, including claims of unwanted advances. The suit also alleges Archuleta retaliated against the former employee for raising concerns and violated other labor laws.
Knock LA instead recommends a vote for either grassroots organizer Martha Camacho Rodriguez or Whittier City Councilmember Henry Bouchot. Rodriguez is a water advocate who has played an active role in organizations such as Restore the Delta, Food & Water Watch, the Sierra Club, and Dignity and Power Now. She is also an elected director of the Central Basin Municipal Water District, Division I.
Bouchot is a former active duty Marine judge advocate and Afghanistan veteran who founded the nonprofit Praccess, which provides services to disabled veterans, especially on Skid Row. According to Bouchot’s campaign site, he hasn’t taken money from special interest groups, and his top priorities are affordable housing, addressing the homelessness crisis with real solutions and compassion, protecting the environment, and affordable health care. In describing his time on the Whittier City Council, Bouchot told Whittier Daily News that “four years was enough for me to accomplish what I set out to do and more.” If only Archuleta could say the same.
The lone Republican in this race, Mitch Clemmons, owns his own plumbing company and, according to a questionnaire for Voter’s Edge, he believes “crime is out of control” and promises to “restore law and order in our communities.”
Note: Archuleta was elected to SD 32 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its legislative districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
SD 34: No Recommendation
The incumbent, Senator Tom Umberg, is a Democrat in a safe district that weaves southeast along the I-5 from South Whittier to Santa Ana. Republicans are not viable here. He is a former Army colonel and prosecutor who is not only extremely proud of working as the US drug czar under Bill Clinton — which strikes us as a bit alarming — but he regularly refuses to vote for progressive legislation, such as SB81, to stop making prison sentences longer; AB1346, to phase out fossil fuel powered landscaping equipment; and AB1395, the Climate Crisis Act. He also seems to support environmentally toxic desalination projects.
The only challenger, Rhonda Shader, is the current mayor of Placentia and owns an insurance agency. She holds very conservative views, including not supporting any new government policies to address climate change. She opposes single-payer healthcare and wants to focus on lowering taxes
Both will be back on the ballot for the runoff in November. See if Umberg stops throwing shade through his voting record. Will he advocate for Medicare for All?
SD 36: No Recommendation
In this race for an open coastal Orange County district, GOP Assemblymember Janet Nguyen has significantly outraised her opponent with contributions from unsavory donors, including Philip Morris, medical and insurance groups, and police unions.
The only other candidate, Kim Carr, is the former mayor of Huntington Beach and seems to be framing herself “as a moderate.” Her website has no issue sections, but in a campaign video, she claims to have “improved public safety” when she was mayor by “increasing police patrols.”
Both Nguyen and Carr will be on the November ballot in a runoff.
California State Assembly
AD 34: No Recommendation
AD 34 is a new district that combines the former Antelope Valley district of AD 36 and the largely San Bernardino–based AD 33, bringing two Republican incumbents into one district that notably doesn’t include the predominantly Black and Latine eastern portions of Lancaster and Palmdale.
Republican Tom Lackey is seeking reelection by continuing his support for increasing traffic stops in the search for impaired drivers, despite the long-standing problem of Black and Latine residents in the Antelope Valley being targeted in traffic stops. An investigation of the Antelope Valley LA Sheriff’s Department by the Justice Department for 4th Amendment violations found “stops that appear motivated by racial bias,” unreasonable use of force, and discrimination against residents on the basis of race.
The other Republican incumbent, Thurston “Smitty” Smith has been a vocal opponent of defunding the police and has in fact been advocating for even more public resources to be devoted to law enforcement.
Other candidates in this race include former Victorville City Councilmember Rita Ramirez, who was removed from the City Council after it was revealed she lives in Twentynine Palms; Paul Fournier, who describes himself on his website as a devout Christian who sees COVID public policy as “medical tyranny” and is “slightly to the right of Atila the Hun,” and Roger La Plante, who has no website and has reported no fundraising.
Note: Smith was elected to AD 33 and Lackey was elected to AD-36 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its legislative districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
AD 39: Juan Carrillo
AD 39 is a newly created district that covers Lancaster, Palmdale, and Lake Los Angeles and has no incumbent. Former Palmdale School Board member and current Palmdale City Councilmember Juan Carrillo is the best option among the candidates.
Carrillo cast the lone dissenting vote when the Palmdale City Council recently made a vote of no confidence on LA County District Attorney George Gascón. And he voted against the city of Palmdale launching a study into prosecuting crimes itself (rather than the LA district attorney’s office), saying, “this money could be better spent elsewhere to prevent crime and not to fund a new city department.” However, he endorsed the disastrous Sheriff Alex Villanueva for reelection after the publication of the Knock LA voter guide.
Former political director for Christy Smith, Andrea Rosenthal, certainly seems to be the choice the Democratic Party would like to go with, having received endorsements from prominent liberal Democrats and campaign contributions from most of the labor unions, but her advocacy to “ensure quality affordable health care and housing are accessible to all” is doublespeak for not supporting Medicare for All. The Assembly is sure to vote on another single-payer healthcare bill in the next term and candidates that do not support passing it should not be supported.
Former California State Assemblymember Steve Fox is also running for this seat after several failed attempts to return to Sacramento after Tom Lackey unseated him in 2014. Fox was charged with sexually harrassing a female employee as well as forcing another state employee to work for his law firm without pay. California settled both cases for $210,000. Fox’s most notable campaign issue this cycle is the proposal of a new feudalist housing policy where tiny homes could be provided to the homeless and their rents paid for by working on road improvements for the state.
AD 40: Pilar Schiavo
AD 40 has three candidates running and no one is remotely close to being as good as Pilar Schiavo. Schiavo is running on a platform of public education funding, mental healthcare support, and guaranteed healthcare for everyone.
Schiavo is an experienced labor organizer, explicitly supports single-payer healthcare bill AB1400, and is endorsed by Assemblymember Alex Lee.
The incumbent, Suzette Valladares, is a Republican who opposes Medicare for All. Also running for this seat is Annie Cho.
Note: Valladares was elected to AD 38 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its legislative districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
AD 41: No Recommendation
Incumbent Chris Holden is running unopposed but still collecting very healthy campaign donations from PG&E, Chevron, Amazon, and various police unions.
AD 42: No Recommendation
Democrat incumbent Jacqui Irwin is running against two Republicans. The reported fundraising of Republicans Theodore Nordblum and Lori Mills doesn’t signal much of a threat to Irwin.
Irwin’s record of not voting for several justice reform bills precludes Knock LA from recommending her. Examples from 2021 include SB 731 to remove old convictions from records, AB 503 to end indefinite probation for youth, and AB 937 to end transfers of prisoners to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Note: Irwin was elected to AD 44 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its legislative districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
AD 43: No Recommendation
Democrat incumbent Luz Rivas is running unopposed for her third term. Like most of her other unopposed Democratic colleagues in the State Assembly, she continues to take contributions from massive corporations like Airbnb, AT&T, Facebook, Lyft, Amazon, and various healthcare conglomerates.
Rivas isn’t a bad legislator, but in a state where a completely unchallenged Democratic Party continually protects the needs of large corporations and wealthy investors over those of constituents who increasingly cannot afford housing or healthcare for their families, she could do much more.
Note: Rivas was elected to AD 39 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its legislative districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
AD 44: No Recommendation
Incumbent Democrat Laura Friedman is running against Republican Barry Jacobsen. Friedman’s seat is undeniably safe and Friedman, while better than many of her colleagues on the issues and having a track record of listening to her constituents, still takes in plenty of donations from real estate interests and Southern California Edison.
Friedman has built up the political capital necessary to start breaking from the pack of centrist Democrats running the state if she wanted to — and it’s high time that she did so. California needs to be moving toward a higher minimum wage, building social housing, using eminent domain on private utility providers, and ending police protections that keep law enforcement unaccountable to the communities they serve.
Note: Friedman was elected to AD 43 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its legislative districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
AD 46: Jesse Gabriel
Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel stands out as one of the legislators who followed through on feedback from constituents and advocates. In the previous election, Knock LA didn’t recommend him because he had not publicly committed to supporting Black Lives Matter–LA’s top priority: enabling California — like 46 other states — to decertify cops for malfeasance.
Infamous Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon cited the fact that less than half the Assembly had publicly committed to support it as the reason why he didn’t bring it to a vote in 2020. Gabriel’s office reached out to Knock LA after that voter guide, explaining that he intended to vote for it. Not only did Gabriel vote for it in 2021, he voted for other progressive priorities as well, such as Medicare for All / CalCare.
Gabriel’s only opponent is Dana Caruso, a retired principal who wants to “bring school police back to our schools.” Knock LA holds elected officials to high standards, so Knock LA thanks those like Assemblymember Gabriel who follow through.
Note: Gabriel was elected to AD 45 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its legislative districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
AD 48: No Recommendation
Incumbent Democrat Blanca Rubio is running unopposed. Nonetheless she continues to rake in campaign donations from bad actors looking to exploit Californians for a hefty profit.
General Motors, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, bail bondsmen, Airbnb, and not least of all, notorious wage thieves Walgreens, all have a seat at the table in Rubio’s office to see what part of your life can be made even more profitable for them.
AD 49: No Recommendation
Incumbent Democrat Michael Fong is running against Republican Burton Brink, and Fong has outraised Brink by over a million dollars so far. Fong has taken copious amounts of campaign contributions from police associations, charter schools, energy companies, and health insurance companies to assure a landslide victory in the East San Gabriel Valley.
AD 51: Louis Abramson
Covering Santa Monica, West LA, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, the Hollywood Hills, Hollywood, and Hancock Park, the new AD 51 is one of the nicest strips of wealthy voters Los Angeles has to offer.
Louis Abramson is a member of the Central Hollywood Neighborhood Council and works as an astrophysicist. While the $120,709 he’s raised doesn’t come near opponent Rick Zbur’s haul, his contributions have come mostly from individuals, and he has not taken any money from police associations, insurance companies, energy companies, or charter schools.
Abramson is a renter, a rare distinction as over 80% of elected officials at any level, from municipal to federal, are homeowners and more than a quarter of members of the California State Legislature are also landlords.
Zbur has raised an eye-popping $814,505.62 in campaign donations so far, one of which comes from a holdings company called GTM Group Holdings that is described as a “sales consulting and government procurement company focused on maximizing our clients’ ability to sell their products, services and solutions into the federal and SLED markets (State, Local, Education.)” That sounds an awful lot like a talent agent that finds government officials to bribe on behalf of corporations. Zbur is also taking money from Tesla, charter schools, energy companies, and insurance companies.
AD 52: Mia Livas Porter
AD 52 covers most of NELA, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Glendale and East Los Angeles. It is Los Angeles’ most progressive electoral district bar none, and is due for a candidate that is legitimately reflective of its constituents.
Mia Livas Porter has been an organizer with Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety, working on gun violence prevention after losing her brother to suicide following his lengthy battle with schizophrenia. She supported UTLA during the teachers’ strike, and is campaigning on a Green New Deal for California, single-payer healthcare, and reimagining public safety by reinvesting in affordable housing, education, healthcare, and public transit. Porter has not taken any money from police associations, insurance companies, medical or pharmaceutical interests, charter schools, or energy companies.
Democratic incumbent Wendy Carrillo disappointed progressives in her district when she was elected in 2017 under the guise of being a Berniecrat. Her initial waffling on Medicare for All upon winning was unacceptable for anyone claiming to take up Sanders’ fight in public office. Although Carrillo has co-sponsored CalCare bills since then and won the support of National Nurses United, she has outraised Porter by over three-to-one by taking money from health insurance companies, police associations, charter schools, and energy companies
Republican Gia D’Amato, a right-wing conservative Christian that is running as an anti-communist and anti-vaxer, is also on the ballot for this race.
Note: Carrillo was elected to AD 51 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its legislative districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
AD 53: No Recommendation
Incumbent Democrat and former EMT and Pomona City Councilmember Freddie Rodriguez has raised $427,673.87 this election cycle. Like most of his liberal Democrat colleagues, he has collected some of it from energy, oil, health insurance, pharmaceutical, and telecom companies, along with car manufacturers, anti-trust-avoiding tech giants, and police associations.
Despite occupying a seat completely safe from flipping to Republicans, he has failed to vote for almost anything that would improve the material conditions of the majority of Californians.
Republican Toni Holle is running for this seat for the third time, with this run looking just as hopeless as the last two. Holle is another Trump-loving anti-vaxxer who thinks the biggest problem in California is too much Gavin Newsom and not enough “family values” and “religious freedom.”
Note: Rodriguez was elected to AD 52 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its legislative districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
AD 54: No Recommendation
Incumbent Democrat Miguel Santiago is running unopposed. Santiago faced a credible challenge in 2020 from Godfrey Plata, and it seems to have done some good in pushing Santiago to a more progressive position.
Still, he continues to rake in campaign contributions from a laundry list of bad actors, including the firehose of corruption that GTM Group Holdings (a company that exists solely to connect the private sector to public money) represents. So far he has amassed an $893,298.29 war chest in an uncontested election, thus ensuring he will prioritize the needs of the rich that keep him in power.
Note: Santiago was elected to AD 53 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its legislative districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
AD 55: Isaac Bryan
Incumbent Democrat Isaac Bryan is the founder of the UCLA Black Policy Project, a multi-issue policy initiative that has informed legislation at all levels of government. He was also the co-chair of the 2020 Measure J Campaign, which reallocated portions of the LASD budget to other public services, including healthcare and housing.
Bryan has largely voted the right way on justice, environmental, and housing legislation in his first year. But Bryan has also campaigned for Maria Brenes, whose school board campaign is associated with charter school supporters, which could be a concerning sign for the future.
Republican Keith Cascio is also running but has reported no campaign contributions at the time of this writing and doesn’t seem to be a serious candidate.
Note: Bryan was elected to AD 54 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its legislative districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
AD 56: No Recommendation
Incumbent Democrat Lisa Calderon ran for what was AD 57 when her stepson Ian Calderon decided to retire from public office. Ian Calderon, son of former Assemblymember and State Senator Charles Calderon, seems to have gone from serving the public good in Sacramento to joining GTM Group Holdings, an agency that “connects” private sector entities to elected officials at all levels of government to solicit government contracts.
Calderon herself is no stranger to questionable private-public partnerships. Calderon served as “Government Affairs Director” from 1996 to 2000 at energy conglomerate Edison International. This just happens to be the period of time when then Governor Pete Wilson deregulated the energy industry that led to the California energy crisis in 2000-2001.
She has raised $398,593 this cycle and has taken plenty of money from insurance interests, Tesla, police associations, pharmaceutical companies, and notorious wage thieves Walgreens, among others.
Whittier Councilmember Jessica Martinez, who was at the January 6 attack on the Capitol Building, and Republican Natasha “Naty” Serrano, a right-wing conservative Christian who is touting an anti-abortion platform, are also running. Neither seem to be running competitive campaigns.
Note: Calderon was elected to AD 57 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its legislative districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
AD 57: No Recommendation
Incumbent Reggie Jones-Sawyer is running unopposed. While Jones-Sawyer’s voting record is relatively safe, there are some sponsored bills that have housing advocates questioning his leadership.
Note: Jones-Sawyer was elected to AD 59 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its legislative districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
AD 61: Tina Simone McKinnor
If you live between Venice, Inglewood, and Lawndale, two races on your ballot might be confusing. In addition to the regular primary election for the new Assembly District 61, there’s a special runoff election to finish the current term in the old Assembly District 62, which mostly overlaps with the new District 61 and is vacant right now.
This means that the two runoff candidates from District 62 — Tina Simone McKinnor and current Lawndale Mayor Robert Pullen-Miles — might show up on your ballot twice if you are in the new, overlapping area.
Back in February, Assemblymember Autumn Burke resigned from her seat. She joined Axiom Advisors, a lobbying firm founded by the lobbyist who famously dined with Governor Gavin Newsom at French Laundry back in 2020 despite COVID restrictions. Because of this, District 62 had a special primary election on April 5, and Pullen-Miles is now in a runoff election against McKinnor.
Tina McKinnor is a longtime activist and native Angeleno who is the civic engagement director of LA Voice, a “multi-racial, multi-faith, community-based organization dedicated to equity and abundance for all.” She’s endorsed by Ground Game LA.
McKinnor supports a single-payer healthcare system, along with stronger tenant rights and protection against eviction. Her top priorities also include COVID-19 recovery, addressing illegal short-term rentals and the housing crisis, and reducing the number of people incarcerated while also providing programs to help formerly incarcerated people reenter society.
Pullen-Miles lists similar goals on his campaign site, such as COVID-19 relief, homelessness policies, environmental protection, and marriage equality. However, some moves, like his effort to please NIMBYs by blocking the use of a local hotel for Project Roomkey in April 2020 as COVID infections skyrocketed, has progressives understandably concerned. This, along with McKinnor’s track record of local organizing and policies, is why Knock LA recommends McKinnor.
AD 62: No Recommendation
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon is being challenged again by Maria Estrada. In the past, Rendon killed California’s attempt to create a statewide single-payer healthcare system (CalCare). Over 16,000 Californians have died since then due to lack of healthcare.
Rendon’s lack of open support for CalCare and a bill to end the Ellis Act — a state law that allows a landlord to evict tenants in rent-controlled units if said landlord plans to “go out of business” — is particularly damning.
The authors of these crucial bills ultimately pulled them, claiming they did not have enough support. Had Rendon thrown his official Speaker weight behind the bills, they could have gone to a floor vote and become law.
Maria Estrada’s Assembly campaigns have advocated for Medicare for All, stopping the proliferation of corporate charter schools, racial justice, and environmental justice, among other issues.
Unfortunately, she shared posts on social media that were extremely problematic. While, in 2020 Knock LA initially recommended a vote for her to send a message that legislative sessions like this most recent one are wholly unacceptable, Knock LA changed that to a no recommendation.
Since then, Knock LA has received screenshots from the Estrada campaign of an apology that Estrada posted on her 2020 campaign’s Facebook page, stating that while she supports Palestinians, she opposes antisemitism.
Note: Rendon was elected to AD 63 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its legislative districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
AD 64: Elizabeth Alcantar
This is an open seat to replace Cristina Garcia, who is running for Congress.
Knock LA’s choice, Elizabeth Alcantar, is Cudahy’s mayor. She campaigns for Medicare for All, tuition-free college, increased affordable housing, job training programs, and environmental justice.
She supported the Bernie Sanders campaign and opposed efforts to recall District Attorney George Gascón. She committed to oppose water privatization in an interview with the Working Families Party.
Although she voted against construction of a KIPP charter school on a contaminated site, the organizers against it say she might have prevented the rest of the council from approving it if she had expressed opposition before the vote.
Of the other candidates, Norwalk City Councilmember Ana Valencia is a public school teacher and former UTLA Board Secretary. She donated to abortion rights groups even before the leak of the Supreme Court draft. However, while opponents of water privatization such as Martha Camacho Rodriguez and Leticia Vazquez (both of whom Knock LA has recommended) endorse Valencia, she “completely disagrees” with Gascón’s justice reforms and voted no confidence against him, which indicates she wouldn’t vote for similar reforms at the state level.
The remaining candidates are problematic. Downey City Councilmember Blanca Pacheco has strong support from sectors like cops, construction, car dealerships, and insurance, and calls only for “affordable care,” which often is code for supporting something short of Medicare for All.
La Habra City Councilmember Rose Espinoza says she “would support an abortion when the procedure is necessary for the life and health of the mother,” which isn’t pro-choice.
Robert Cancio is a military veteran who says he’s “tough on crime” and calls for more in-state oil drilling. Raul Ortiz supports cops and opposes abortion rights and COVID vaccines. Alcantar is the clear choice.
AD 65: Fatima Iqbal-Zubair
Fatima Iqbal-Zubair is a grassroots candidate running for State Assembly in District 65 — one of the most impacted districts in CA, holding a third of California’s refineries and 75% of the neighborhood drilling in LA county. She’s endorsed by Ground Game LA.
She’s a teacher from Watts, an immigrant, a community organizer, and a mother to a son with special needs. She is running on a strong intersectional platform, and has already shown leadership on the issues she wants to lead on: systems of care including environmental justice, public education investments, criminal justice reform, affordable housing, and economic equality.
Her opponent, Assemblymember Mike Gipson, takes the most corporate money in the Assembly, and the district — and our state — is paying for it. Time and time again, Gipson has shown to serve his donors over the community.
Gipson, recently asked on video about his awful climate record and fossil fuel ties, gaslighted a young community member. Afterwards, in a xenophobic response, he dismissed Fatima as “not being from this country.”
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 divest from policing and reinvest in community care. She supports investments in infrastructure, education, housing, Medicare for All, and the Green New Deal. If you live in this district, voting for Iqbal-Zubair is absolutely imperative.
Note: Gipson was elected to AD 64 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its legislative districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
AD 66: No Recommendation
Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi has held this seat since 2016. Despite public safety and law enforcement not being priorities listed on his website, he was awarded the Legislator of the Year award by the California Police Chiefs Association in 2017.
He has a checkered voting history, including voting no on AB937, which would end the transfer of imprisoned people to ICE. The ACLU assigned him a slightly passing score of 65%, and it is on that scorecard one can see he has accepted donations from law enforcement and tech companies. He also refuses to support Medicare for All / CalCare.
The challenger, George Barks, is a Republican who does not have a campaign website yet. It appears his campaign Instagram was created on April 29, 2022, with one post and no information about his views on the issues. Banks was on the Hermosa Beach City Council in the 1970s and 80s.
AD 67: Paramvir Brar
Brar is the most progressive of the four candidates running for AD 67, but also the least experienced. His background is not in politics, but at Boeing managing repair contracts with suppliers for the defense industry.
Despite this glaringly non-progressive work background, his platform is seemingly anti-establishment and anti-corruption. He supports Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, ending corruption in politics, and strengthening public education, among other issues.
The incumbent, Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva, has a mediocre voting record, particularly when it comes to issues of public safety. She’s pro-cop and supports funding police and public safety programs. She’s also had a handful of negative environmental votes, and nowhere on her website does she list climate change as a priority.
The other two candidates are Republicans whose positions are to the right of Brar and Quirk-Silva.
Note: Quirk-Silva was elected to AD 65 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its legislative districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
AD 69: No Recommendation
In this open Long Beach seat there’s no candidate who supports all of Medicare for All, tenants’ rights, and reimagining public safety.
Janet D. Foster comes the closest: she supports single-payer health care, criminal justice reform, and says, “We must have an active transition plan to eliminate fossil fuel usage. We must stop fracking immediately!”
However, she also identifies as a YIMBY (“Yes In My Back Yard”) supporter who mentions a need to “combat housing inflation,” which could mean a supply side approach: in other words, give developers what they want. She doesn’t mention tenants’ rights or rent control. If she adds that to her website or Twitter, vote for her.
Merry Taheri is a nurse who hadn’t expressed support for single payer or Medicare for All on her website, but “universal coverage,” a term Obamacare supporters use. After publication of this voter guide a supporter of hers shared an email she sent indicating that she favors Medicare for All. She’s also a “citizen police commissioner.” However, she supports tenant protections, a Housing First approach for the unhoused, free community college tuition for all, and more transit.
Long Beach City Councilmember Al Austin received campaign contributions from the Long Beach Police Officers’ Association and Signal Hill Petroleum. He wants to “expand access to healthcare,” which falls short of pledging to support single payer or Medicare for All.
Josh Lowenthal is the son of the retiring member of Congress here. Here’s an excerpt of what Lowenthal writes under “Helping the unhoused”: “I’ll also make sure that our cities and counties have the tools they need to enforce our laws and keep residents and neighborhoods safe from crime and violence. We must get the unhoused the help they need — from housing to mental health and addiction services — while dealing with the blight and crime associated with unlawful encampments.”
Based on fundraising and name recognition, Austin and Lowenthal are likely to make the runoff.
UNITED STATES CONGRESS
Over two years into the COVID pandemic, Congress has yet to pass Medicare for All. Indeed, Congress hasn’t even voted on it this term. While several members of Congress from LA added their names to the list of Medicare for All co-sponsors — a small step in the right direction — every one of them voted for the omnibus bill in March that eliminated funding for the single-payer healthcare that we had: COVID testing, vaccination, and treatment coverage for the uninsured.
Thus, while there were several members of Congress who Knock LA recommended last time, like Representatives Grace Napolitano, Judy Chu, Maxine Waters, and Nanette Barragán, whose voting records were not generally objectionable, Knock LA underscores the urgency of Medicare for All by not recommending for the primary any incumbent who voted for the omnibus bill.
Yes, the omnibus bill covered a lot of things, including over $370 billion in military and weapons spending, which makes the inability to fund $15 billion for COVID coverage after 1 million Americans died particularly egregious.
United States Senate
Note: this seat appears twice on the ballot:
- The first one is the regular election for the “Full Term” that starts January 3, 2023.
- The second one is the special election for the “Short Term” remaining after Kamala Harris resigned to become vice president.
Senator: John Thompson Parker
Incumbent Alex Padilla was appointed to Kamala Harris’ former Senate seat by Governor Newsom after Harris was elected vice president. He says he supports Medicare for All, and he co-sponsored the Green New Deal, but like all other members of Congress from Southern California, he voted for the omnibus bill that ended funding for the COVID costs of uninsured people, a form of Medicare for All that we got because of the pandemic.
The next three best-funded candidates are Mark Meuser, Cordie Williams, and James Bradley. They are all Republicans and each have raised a tiny fraction of what Padilla has; none of them are viable.
Among the short-term candidates, besides Padilla, Dan O’Dowd is running as a single-issue candidate on “making computers safe for humanity” and preventing cars from operating in full self-driving mode. Of the other short-term candidates, Timothy Ursich Jr. calls for “re-funding the police,” Daphne Bradford opposes defunding the police, and the rest are Republicans.
John Thompson Parker is a member of the Socialist Unity Party and the endorsed candidate of both the Peace and Freedom Party and the Green Party. He’s on the ballot for the full-term race and he’s a write-in candidate for the short-term race.
Because California has a top-two primary in which all candidates compete to be in an automatic runoff in November, the joint endorsement is a historic step that might, in some cases, take advantage of splits among Republican candidates to shut them out from the runoff. Knock LA does not necessarily agree with all of Parker’s positions, such as supporting Russian military actions in Ukraine. However, the lack of will among elected Democrats to both commit to and follow through on progressive priorities makes the clear symbolic contrast that Parker offers with Padilla and the Democratic establishment on important issues foreign and domestic worthwhile to recommend a protest vote in his favor.
In addition to supporting defunding the police at home and military operations overseas, Parker has a long record of advocacy to stop the US government from instigating wars. Even when only one member of Congress, Barbara Lee, voted against the US invasion of Afghanistan, Parker organized against it. When then-Senator Biden pushed senators to vote for the Iraq War, Parker organized against it. When Obama launched airstrikes leading to the destruction of Libya and open enslavement of Africans, Parker advocated against it.
Today, with most members of Congress competing to see who can escalate more without considering the risk of nuclear annihilation, voting for Parker sends a message that what we need is Medicare for All and climate action now, not a neocon foreign policy that sets the world on fire.
United States House of Representatives
CA 23: Derek Marshall
Incumbent Jay Obernolte has the most money, is pro-police and pro-fossil fuel extraction.
By contrast, progressive champion Derek Marshall has raised a considerable amount from individual donations. He supports a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, LGBTQ+ rights, spending for infrastructure, housing, free public education, and more. He’s endorsed by Ground Game LA.
Blanca Gomez, a Victorville city councilmember, raised a modest amount, and it is not clear what her political priorities are.
Note: Obernolte was elected to CA 08 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its congressional districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
CA 26: No Recommendation
Incumbent Julia Brownley raised the most money so far. Republican Matthew Jacobs raised nearly as much in the latest FEC filing, running on a platform of “Defending the American Dream.”
There are two other Republicans and one conservative independent who have respectively earned a fraction of what Brownley and Jacobs have, and they are unlikely to win. Brownley won her previous election by a large margin and her policies aren’t particularly progressive, though she co-sponsored a fracking ban for coastal California.
CA 27: Ruth Luevanos
Incumbent Mike Garcia raised the most money. He is supported by weapons manufacturers, fossil fuel interests, and a Koch brother PAC. There are two other Republicans and one write-in independent who show no money raised in recent data and are not considered viable.
The most prominent Democrat, Christy Smith, has the support of some large unions and has many endorsements from establishment California Democrats. She was one of the most conservative Democrats in the State Assembly, not supporting Medicare for All or police decertification, for example. Her current platform continues along the same lines. Even though Biden narrowly won the precincts of this district in 2020, Smith narrowly lost to Garcia, so the runoff will likely be a rematch between Smith and Garcia.
John Quaye Quartey is a naval intelligence officer, touting his military experience on his website. It’s not clear who endorses him. There is no evidence of him supporting progressive legislation.
Ruth Luevanos supports Medicare for All and creating union jobs. She has a great-looking website and is supported by local progressive groups and activists.
Note: Garcia was elected to CA 25 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its congressional districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
CA 28: Giuliano “Gio” DePaolis
While the incumbent, Judy Chu, has supported some progressive proposals like the Green New Deal and is a co-sponsor of a Medicare for All bill, she voted for the omnibus bill that ended funding for the COVID costs of uninsured people, a form of Medicare for All that we got because of the pandemic. She’s in a safe district with no viable challengers.
Of the other candidates, Giuliano DePaolis supports Medicare for All. He also calls for slashing the military budget, unlike Chu. Neither Dorothy Caronna nor Wesley Philip Hallman appear to be progressive.
Note: Chu was elected to CA 27 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its congressional districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
CA 29: Angélica María Dueñas
Incumbent Tony Cárdenas has raised the most money so far. He has received money from the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, the defense industry, charter school PACs, tech companies, etc.
Although he’s a co-sponsor of a Medicare for All bill now, he voted for the omnibus bill that ended funding for the COVID costs of uninsured people, a form of Medicare for All that we got because of the pandemic. He has a good record of supporting public housing residents in the district.
Angélica María Dueñas campaigns for a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and reducing the defense budget. She’s endorsed by Ground Game LA.
The three Republicans do not seem to have raised serious amounts of money and do not appear viable.
CA 30: G. “Maebe A. Girl” Pudlo
Adam Schiff has raised the most money, over $13 million as of the latest FEC filing. Schiff claims to support a “move towards” Medicare for All through “expanding” Medicare, but he voted for the omnibus bill that ended funding for the COVID costs of uninsured people, a form of Medicare for All that we got because of the pandemic. His foreign policy is hawkish.
G. “Maebe A. Girl” Pudlo is on the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council. She supports progressive causes like Medicare for All, Green New Deal, LGBTQIA rights, cutting military spending, opposing imperialism, and more. She’s endorsed by Ground Game LA.
She nearly prevented the Republican candidate from making the runoff when she ran in 2020, so spread the word and shut the GOP out this time.
Of the other candidates, while William “Gunner” Meurer is a Green Party member, his positions are less progressive than Pudlo’s. Sal Genovese doesn’t call for Medicare for All, and the rest of the candidates are conservatives.
Note: Schiff was elected to CA 28 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its congressional districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
CA 31: No Recommendation
To her credit, the incumbent, Grace Napolitano, publicly supported District Attorney George Gascón against the efforts to recall him. She’s also a co-sponsor of a Medicare for All bill, but she voted for the omnibus bill that ended funding for the COVID costs of uninsured people, a form of Medicare for All that we got because of the pandemic. She’s in a safe district with no viable challengers.
Note: Napolitano was elected to CA 32 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its congressional districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
CA 32: Shervin Aazami
Incumbent Brad Sherman received money from private equity and weapons manufacturers, as well as other finance and investment groups, according to FEC filings. Although he’s a co-sponsor of a Medicare for All bill now, he voted for the omnibus bill that ended funding for the COVID costs of uninsured people, a form of Medicare for All that we got because of the pandemic.
Shervin Aazami supports a number of progressive policy positions such as Green New Deal, Medicare for All, defunding the military, decriminalizing the immigration system, and more. He’s endorsed by Ground Game LA.
Aarika Rhodes also supports Medicare for All and Green New Deal, but also promotes Bitcoin. Likewise, Jason Potell also supports a Green New Deal, Housing is a Human Right, and cryptocurrency. Raji Rab campaigns on protecting the integrity of the election system. Republicans Melissa Toomim and Lucie Lapointe Volotzky are not running viable campaigns.
Note: Sherman was elected to CA 30 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its congressional districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
CA 34: David Kim
This a rematch between incumbent Jimmy Gomez and David Kim. There is one Republican who hasn’t raised any significant amount of money and doesn’t seem to have any information of any kind about his campaign.
Gomez is a co-sponsor of Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. However, he has raised money from Blue Cross and Pfizer as well as major energy companies, and he voted for the omnibus bill that ended funding for the COVID costs of uninsured people, a form of Medicare for All that we got because of the pandemic.
Kim supports progressive policies: universal basic income, Medicare for All, and a Green New Deal. He consistently raised money from individual contributions. He’s endorsed by Ground Game LA.
CA 35: No Recommendation
Incumbent Norma Torres supports vague issues with typical Democrat language, like “accessible,” “affordable,” and “commonsense.” She hasn’t supported Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, or cutting the military budget. She gets money from pharmaceutical companies as well as weapons manufacturers. No information was available on the other Democrat, Lloyd Stevens. The Republicans — Bob Erbst, Mike Cargile, and Rafael Carcamo — aren’t viable.
CA 36: Colin Kilpatrick O’Brien
Incumbent Ted Lieu has received money from Blue Shield as well as tech companies, and doesn’t seem to support particularly progressive causes. Although he is a co-sponsor of a Medicare for All bill now, he voted for the omnibus bill that ended funding for the COVID costs of uninsured people, a form of Medicare for All that we got because of the pandemic. One of his challengers, Joe Collins, appears to think lowering taxes will end homelessness.
With no prominent progressive running against Lieu, the only potential alternative could be Colin Kilpatrick O’Brien. He doesn’t appear to have a campaign presence online, but when he ran three decades ago, he advocated for Congress to fund the cleanup of toxic waste sites.
Note: Lieu was elected to CA 33 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its congressional districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
CA 37: Daniel W. Lee
Culver City Mayor Dr. Daniel W. Lee’s priorities include Medicare For All and the Green New Deal. As a military veteran, he speaks eloquently about the need to reduce military spending. He refuses funding from big pharma, insurance companies, and police unions. He’s endorsed by Ground Game LA.
State Senator Sidney Kamlager has the backing of most of the Democratic Party establishment. After progressives criticized her initial positions as an assemblymember, she supported justice reforms, but she has yet to drop her opposition to free college tuition. Moreover, she undermined her environmental record by voting on 5/19 to gut SB 1486, delaying the timeline to close the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility from 2027 to 2045. While she’s likely to win, voting for Lee may encourage Kamlager to take more progressive positions in Congress, where it’s sorely needed.
Former LA City Councilmember Jan Perry gained notoriety for her statements on camera in the Academy Award nominated documentary The Garden as the villain who stymied efforts to save the largest community food garden in the city (over 300 plots on 14 acres in South Central LA). Having close ties to downtown business interests, she shouldn’t be trusted.
CA 38: No Recommendation
The incumbent, Linda Sanchez, voted for every one of Trump’s National Defense Authorization Acts. She also voted for Trump’s free-trade deal with Mexico and Canada, and her husband was indicted on federal corruption charges. On a positive note, she became a co-sponsor of a Medicare for All bill last year. But then she voted for the omnibus bill that ended funding for the COVID costs of uninsured people, a form of Medicare for All that we got because of the pandemic.
She has two Republican challengers, neither of whom is viable in this district: Eric Ching, the former Walnut mayor who vows to be tough on crime, and John Sarega, a pastor.
CA 42: Julio Cesar Flores or William Moses Summerville
While Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, a former Republican who turned Democrat, claims he supports Medicare for All and says that “housing is a human right,” he staunchly opposes rent control, which will continue to hurt his constituents.
Assemblymember Cristina Garcia received large contributions from real estate, landlord, and developer interests after being one of the few Democrats not to initially support AB1482 in 2020, the statewide rent cap bill. She also co-authored legislation that would give seats to water companies while reducing representation for her own constituents on the Central Basin Municipal Water District board.
Democrats Rev. William Moses Summerville, Peter Mathews, and Nicole Lopez have somewhat overlapping progressive views including supporting Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and free public college. Summerville goes further: as a military veteran, he passionately calls for reducing military spending.
Green Party candidate Julio Cesar Flores supports all of the above policies of the progressive Democrats and goes further to support public-owned utilities and significantly low gas prices.
John Briscoe is a conservative whose campaign is mainly self-funded.
CA 43: No Recommendation
The incumbent, Maxine Waters, has outraised all other candidates. Waters had the courage to stand with Centro CSO and other groups calling for sheriff’s deputies who kill unarmed, innocent people to be fired. She also was the only member of Congress in LA to vote against the RENACER Act, whose sanctions make life more difficult for members of the large Nicaraguan immigrant community by imposing greater visa restrictions.
Unfortunately, although she’s a co-sponsor of a Medicare for All bill, she voted for the omnibus bill that ended funding for the COVID costs of uninsured people, a form of Medicare for All that we got because of the pandemic.
No information was available on the other Democrat, Jean Monestime. The Republican candidates, neither of whom are viable, are Allison Pratt and Omar Navarro, a prominent local Trump supporter.
CA 44: No Recommendation
Incumbent Nanette Barragán is a co-sponsor of Medicare for All, but voted for the omnibus bill that ended COVID coverage for the uninsured, a form of Medicare for All that we got because of the pandemic. And she raised money from people at insurance companies like Blue Shield and Humana. However, she refused to take any oil company money, and has actively opposed oil company bailouts.
The other Democrat, Morris Griffin, doesn’t appear to have much of a campaign. He believes that “socialism and capitalism [go] hand in hand” and endorses higher wages and government spending. His videos are fun. Unfortunately, he also calls for putting US troops in El Salvador to fight the drug war.
The Republican, Paul Jones, is a right-wing nut who is anti–Green New Deal.
CA 45: No Recommendation
Republican Michelle Steel and Democrat Jay Chen, a centrist, will likely be up against each other in the general election. The other Republican in the race is Long Pham, who has a history of various unsuccessful campaigns and doesn’t have a working website.
Note: Steel was elected to CA 48 in 2020 under the old district boundaries. In 2021, California redrew its congressional districts based on the 2020 Census. The district numbers in this guide reflect what’s on the ballot this year.
Since 2018 the County of Los Angeles has been gripped in a tug of war between Sheriff Alex Villanueva and the Board of Supervisors. In 2020, voters approved Measure J to reimagine public safety by reallocating funds away from enforcement and jails.
Now, both Villanueva and two of the supervisors’ seats are up for election. One of these, District 3, is a heavily-contested open seat, while Villanueva faces numerous strong challengers. The assessor is also up for reelection.
Board of Supervisors
District 1: No Recommendation
Initially Knock LA intended to support Supervisor Hilda Solis for reelection. She supported reforms to push back on problems in the sheriff’s department. She enacted rent control in unincorporated areas of LA County. Last fall, she said fellow Metro board director Mike Bonin convinced her of the benefits of eliminating transit fares.
But then when transmission of the Omicron variant peaked in January, she ignored calls to even delay the reimposition of transit fares, which would increase drivers’ exposure to COVID. And on April 28, 2022, she voted to ask the LAPD and Long Beach PD to increase the size of their contract with Metro, instead of no longer taking money from impoverished bus riders to pay cops.
Of the challengers, David Argudo is a councilmember from the City of La Puente, Kevin Dalton is a pro-cop “independent thinker” who appeared on the Adam Carrolla show to oppose vaccine and mask mandates, Brian Smith is an ex-cop, and Tammy Solis (no relation) does not appear to have a meaningful campaign presence.
None of the challengers have significant fundraising, or name recognition. So, Solis will win anyway.
District 3: Lindsey Horvath or Henry Stern (updated 5/24)
This seat on the powerful Board of Supervisors is opening up after Sheila Kuehl, one of the Board’s most reliably progressive (if imperfect) votes, decided to retire rather than seek a third four-year team. That leaves a pivotal hole as the board considers whether to follow through on recent, remarkably progressive initiatives on reimagining public safety. These initiatives need both funding and political will to reach their full potential and truly reshape the local carceral landscape.
All of that progress would go directly in reverse if State Senator Bob Hertzberg were to be elected. Hertzberg has a long and ugly record in public service, which includes a leading role in the transparently racist (and, to be fair, also classist) effort to have the San Fernando Valley secede from the City of Los Angeles in the 1990s and early 2000s. He has also been accused of repeated unwanted physical contact, resulting in a State Senate panel reprimand.
If there’s a destructive interest group out there, Hertzberg has pocketed their dollars and stuck up for their agenda, be it cops, the bail industry, fossil fuels on multiple occasions, NIMBYs, or the others. He’s also currently trying to install his inexperienced son in his old State Senate seat just to make sure that no shred of political power slips from his greedy grasp.
The top priority is to beat Hertzberg. Either of his main opponents, Lindsey Horvath and Henry Stern, would be better.
The incumbent, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, endorsed West Hollywood City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath. Horvath promises to be a strong voice on the importance of emphasizing care and support over cages, and her commitments have earned her impressive local progressive endorsements, including Eunisses Hernández, La Defensa, and LA Voice Action. She’s against recalling District Attorney George Gascón. She also recently began to fight the sheriff’s department for its problematic record of overcharging West Hollywood for its services. Leading organizers in reimagining public safety feel confident in Horvath as an advocate.
Horvath has a wide array of endorsements from across the ideological spectrum, even Councilmember Joe Buscaino. However, in an interview with Ground Game LA, Horvath’s policy knowledge on environmental issues affected by County decisions appeared thin, which is a shortcoming in an office that affects so many millions of people so deeply.
State Senator Henry Stern has solid positions on the environment, and is smart and knowledgeable on the issues, both on the policy front and the political side.
He has a mixed record on public safety. He voted in favor of cop decertification and has taken strong public stands in favor of the County’s efforts to reshape the youth justice system. Specifically, Stern supports zeroing out the population of its prisons and jails in favor of community-based care, even to the point of openly antagonizing the powerful probation officer association.
But Stern took campaign contributions from cop unions as recently as 2021 and he supports Newsom’s CARE courts, which would place “low acuity” individuals into involuntary conservatorships that restrict their rights. He has been notably noncommittal about how to address the ongoing crisis that is the LA Sheriff’s Department. Most recently, he called for more CHP officers to address crimes like organized retail theft.
The other candidates on the ballot — Roxanne Beckford Hoge, Craig Brill, and Jeffi Girgenti — are ultra-reactionaries and/or not running viable campaigns.
Sheriff: Eric Strong
Click here to read the recommendation at the beginning of this voter guide.
Assessor: Jeffrey Prang
This low-profile office has the important duty of assessing the value of all taxable real estate and business property in LA County. The office also has a history of corruption, with former Assessor John Noguez arrested in 2012 for accepting bribes in exchange for lowering wealthy individuals’ property tax valuations.
Jeffrey Prang, a licensed appraiser first elected to this office in 2014, is running for a third term and has generally received positive reviews for restoring integrity to the office. Knock LA applauds him for raising awareness about how Prop 19 is contributing to the displacement of low-income families in gentrifying neighborhoods.
His analysis is similar to what Knock LA posted about Prop 19 in its November 2020 voter guide: while reassessing properties other than one’s primary residence increases the fairness of the tax system, the threshold at which reassessment occurs on primary residences is too low to prevent multigenerational working class families whose neighborhoods are rapidly gentrifying from being forced to sell their homes because of massive increases in their property taxes.
Challenger Mike Campbell holds anti-tax and pro-property-rights viewpoints, vowing to keep Prop 13 in place and protect property owners from large tax bills. Such positions favor wealthy individuals and undermine the tax revenue needed to pay for equitable social services. The remaining candidates, Sandy Sun, an employee of the LA County Assessor’s office, and Anthony Lopez, do not appear to be running actual campaigns. No information is available on their views.
CALIFORNIA STATE OFFICES
Because California has a top-two primary in which all candidates compete to be in an automatic runoff in November, voting for progressive challengers might, in some cases, take advantage of splits among Republican candidates to shut them out from the runoff.
Governor: Luis Javier Rodriguez
Gavin Newsom is the incumbent Democrat. He has a ton of money from tech companies, sleazy multinational accounting firms, health insurance companies, and the energy sector. He claimed to call for Medicare for All in his 2018 campaign, but he has refused to push for it during the deadliest pandemic in American history. And when the Assembly Appropriations Committee finally voted for a single-payer healthcare proposal in January 2022, Newsom claimed he “hadn’t seen” the bill.
Newsom will definitely advance to and probably win the general election in November. While there are several other contenders (Democrat, Republican, Green, NPP) they don’t really stand out as major threats to Newsom.
Luis Javier Rodriguez is the candidate of the Green Party and the Peace and Freedom Party. He is the founder of Tía Chucha’s Centro Cultural, which for over 20 years has provided a bookstore and cultural programs in the northeast San Fernando Valley, with a special focus on providing alternatives for at-risk youth. He supports single-payer healthcare, as well as the “end of militarized policing and deadly force.”
Lieutenant Governor: Mohammad Arif
Incumbent Eleni Kounalakis is a Democrat and is endorsed by former President Obama, Fiona Ma, the California Democratic Party, and local Democrat groups. Her webpage lacks an issues section and its current “Endorsements” section is down.
None of the other candidates have significant campaigns or campaign finance data. Kounalakis has a good chance of winning the general election, and will easily be one of the top two in the primary.
Mohammad Arif is the only candidate in this race that has vowed not to take corporate contributions. He also supports free universal healthcare and education. This is directly relevant to the lieutenant governor’s race, because one of the few substantive duties of the office is serving as trustee of the University of California system.
Secretary of State: Gary N. Blenner
Democratic incumbent Dr. Shirley Weber has raised the most in this race. She was appointed by Gavin Newsom. Previously, she was a legislator with a mixed voting record, supporting some police reforms, but also charter schools.
Gary Blenner’s platform includes supporting ranked-choice voting and expanding voting rights.
Controller: Laura Wells
State Board of Equalization member Malia Cohen is the endorsed candidate of the California Democratic Party. She has the most endorsements and funds raised of any Democrat in the race, so she’s likely to make the runoff. Her record and positions are the least problematic of the Democratic candidates, so Knock LA’s strategy is to support Laura Wells to potentially shut out more conservative candidates. Wells supports public housing, public schools, and defunding the military.
Of the other candidates, LA City Controller Ron Galperin has Betty Yee’s support, but has a reputation for racial discrimination. State Senator Steve Glazer is one of the top opponents of Medicare for All in the Legislature and wants to ban strikes by transit workers, and Lanhee Chen and Yvonne Yiu have also raised significant sums for their campaigns.
Treasurer: Meghann Adams
Incumbent Fiona Ma is the Democratic frontrunner in this race with the heaviest list of establishment endorsements.
Andrew Do is the Republican candidate with the next most significant amount of funding. Curiously, he has not updated his social media profiles and is still using information from 2017. There is another Republican running in this race along with Do as well, but they do not have any current endorsements.
Meghann Adams is president of her bus drivers’ union in San Francisco. She is not taking money from corporate donors, real estate developers, or oil lobbyists and is the only candidate in the race to do so.
Attorney General: Dan Kapelovitz
Democratic incumbent Rob Bonta was appointed by Gavin Newsom in 2021. Conservatives are split between Republicans Nathan Hochman and Eric Early and No Party Preference candidate (former Republican) Anne Marie Schubert, all of whom hope to appeal to “tough-on-crime” voters. Schubert is the Sacramento County district attorney.
Dan Kapelovitz is a criminal defense attorney and teaches at the People’s College of Law — a nonprofit law school in Los Angeles for social justice advocates.
Insurance Commissioner: Nathalie Hrizi
Incumbent Ricardo Lara not only abandoned his pledge not to take campaign contributions from insurance companies he regulates, his office got caught advocating for a contributor, in contravention of his role as a regulator.
His main challenger, Assemblymember Marc Levine, isn’t particularly progressive. He opposed bills to promote accountability at charter schools and also opposed a bill to allow sheriff oversight boards. More troublingly for this race, in 2019 he opposed AB1360, which would have required employers to provide insurance for delivery drivers. While he might be the less problematic candidate in the runoff, voters can signal to him to pivot to the left in the general election.
Nathalie Hrizi calls for abolishing the insurance companies and replacing them with a single-payer system. She is the editor of Breaking the Chains, a feminist socialist magazine that has written extensively about the need to organize to save abortion rights, among other topics.
Board of Equalization, District 3: Tony Vazquez
The Board of Equalization is an obscure state agency that handles several specialized areas of tax assessment. The incumbent from Los Angeles County, Tony Vazquez, is a former Santa Monica mayor who was one of the early endorsers of Bernie Sanders for president in the summer of 2019. Neither of his challengers appear to have a campaign presence online or raised any campaign funds.
One of them, John Mendoza, ran for Pomona’s school board, and the other, Marie Manvel, made two $1 contributions to WinRed, the pro-Republican equivalent to ActBlue. Because no scandals have arisen during Vazquez’s tenure in office — in contrast to the BOE’s past — Knock LA recommends voting for him.
Superintendent of Public Instruction: No Recommendation (updated 5/29)
Tony Thurmond is the incumbent supported by Democrats and major teachers’ unions. He faces six other challengers with comparatively modest campaign fundraising.
Joseph Campbell works for his family’s business selling Montessori-related teaching materials and coincidently wants to create free public Montessori programs.
Jim Gibson homeschooled all of his children yet sat on the school board to make decisions for other children in public schools. He seems very upset about non-native English speakers whom he charmingly likes to refer to as possible “illegals.”
Lance Christensen is a charter school advocate with a small fraction of the incumbent’s fundraising. Ainye Long is a public school teacher in San Francisco but has a history of advocating for charter schools. George Yang is a right-wing goof.
Marco Amaral supports public education and increasing teacher salaries. He also supports removing military recruitment from schools.
Knock LA is a journalistic project of Ground Game LA. Knock LA thanks the Democratic Socialists of America Long Beach Chapter, Ground Game LA, and the Progressive Asian Network for Action for participating in preparing this voter guide. Knock LA also thanks The Future Left for inviting its friends to help, and ChangeTheLAUSD.com for helping to research the LA school board races.
Paid for by Ground Game LA.