The KNOCK.LA Los Angeles Progressive Voter Guide for the November 2020 General Election
Vote: it might be the last chance you get!
TRANSLATED VOTER GUIDES:
This election is incredibly important. We at KNOCK.LA understand there is a big Presidential race, which we will weigh in on later (hint: we don’t like the current President). But at least as important for those of us living in LA County are the down-ballot races this year. There are a lot of them, and they matter a great deal.
We’ve sifted through every state, county, and federal race that touches LA County (and a few extras that don’t), every state proposition, every race in LA City, and a host of races in smaller cities to help you make an informed decision when you vote this October (or November, but seriously, please vote as early as possible).
We recommend voting early, by mail or in person. Read our guide to casting your ballot to ensure that your vote is counted!
In the interest of full transparency, 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. None of the following recommendations were authorized by a candidate, a committee controlled by a candidate, or any outside entity.
LA 2020 GENERAL ELECTION RACES:
- City of Los Angeles
- County of Los Angeles
- California State Propositions
- California State Legislature
- United States Congress
- The President
- Smaller Cities
City of Los Angeles
LA City Council
District 4 (Koreatown/Silver Lake/Los Feliz/Sherman Oaks): Nithya Raman
An MIT-trained urban planner, founder of a neighborhood homelessness services organization, and former executive director of TIME’S UP entertainment, Nithya Raman would immediately be the most progressive member of LA City Council. She has advanced housing policies and public safety proposals that are more detailed and practical than 90% of what we’ve seen this cycle (federal elections included).
The power of Raman’s candidacy expands beyond her policy proposals; she is the rare movement-powered candidate in Los Angeles. She mobilized an intensely energetic volunteer base, built strong relationships with grassroots organizations, and forced her opponent (incumbent David Ryu) into this runoff election with only one-third of Ryu’s monetary resources. We strongly recommend voting for Nithya Raman.
Read more here for our full endorsement of Nithya Raman
District 10 (West Adams/Crenshaw/Koreatown): Mark Ridley-Thomas
Mark Ridley-Thomas has a long record of lawmaking with a mix of great accomplishments and significant failures. Running against insurgent candidate Grace Yoo, Ridley-Thomas is not the sort of candidate we would typically recommend. Among other issues, in 2018 the Ridley-Thomas campaign made a $100,000 donation to USC, which then gave his son a graduate scholarship and hired him as a part-time instructor.
That said, we recommend a vote for Ridley-Thomas for two reasons. First off, some of Yoo’s recent political advocacy work is extremely problematic. Her rise to prominence came on the back of a flurry of anti-homeless rhetoric, and a push to prevent even the most basic shelters and supportive housing from being built in Koreatown. Her work directly led to the formation of Ktown for All as a response to her anti-homeless advocacy.
Ridley-Thomas has a checkered history on the issue of homelessness, but he has improved of late in supporting a right to housing. By comparison, Yoo is a disaster. The second reason to vote for Ridley-Thomas is he would be immediately termed out. Because of his prior tenure on City Council, if Ridley-Thomas is elected, the seat will open up again next election cycle. So for now? Vote for Ridley-Thomas, the non-catastrophic, short-term choice for CD 10.
County of Los Angeles
Reimagine LA County (Ballot Designation J): YES
Measure J, more popularly known as Reimagine LA, is designed to address the racial inequities across the county. The measure divests at least 10% of the county’s locally-generated unrestricted revenues from carceral systems and law enforcement agencies (much of which will come straight from the LA Sheriff’s Department) and directly reinvests that money back into Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities.
If passed, the county will be able to fund services like restorative justice, public health services, job training for low-income residents, and provide capital for BIPOC-owned businesses. This is both the bare minimum the County should be doing to support racial justice, and a huge step forward. This measure earns our unqualified support.
Read more about Measure J here
District Attorney: George Gascón
Incumbent LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s got to go. This has been the cry from BLM-LA for years, as she has both failed to prosecute killer cops and refused to meet with family members of those killed by police in LA County. Her tenure has also been one of aggressive prosecution and over-sentencing. Lacey is the sort of retrograde DA we have to get rid of.
George Gascón’s record as DA in San Francisco has some holes in it — he’s been criticized by Bay Area activists for failing to charge killer cops — but he is clearly the better candidate. He wants to stop overcharging minors. He wants to start charging police officers who commit crimes. He would end the use of the death penalty (as opposed to Lacey, whose office has sent 22 people to death row — all people of color). He wants to reduce the overall jail population. And his record suggests he can and will push these reforms. Gascón, notably, was the only DA in the state to support Prop 47, a sentencing reform bill that is perhaps the most important decarceral reform in the past two decades.
He also backed AB-392 in its original form, which placed clear and strong limits on police use of force. Despite having begun his career as a police officer, Gascón is opposed by all of the police unions in the area; they have once again spent millions of dollars to support Lacey’s campaign. As a harm reduction measure, Gascón is the choice here — both because of the policies he will bring to the office and because Jackie Lacey has got to go.
Supervisor District 2 (Culver City/Inglewood/Carson/Compton/Mar Vista/South LA): Holly Mitchell
County Supervisor is one of the most important roles at any level of government in Los Angeles, and Holly Mitchell is an excellent candidate to fill this role. Mitchell’s record in the state senate is exemplary: she supports strong limits on law enforcement and a host of good, imaginative policies around housing and homelessness to help solve these issues from multiple angles. She also has the legislative track record to back up her rhetoric. Even though there are issues on which we disagree with Mitchell, we are confident she will give a fair hearing to activist concerns and be transparent about her decision-making.
The track record of Mitchell’s opponent Herb Wesson is also important. While Wesson has made some brave votes of late — especially when it comes to policing — his tenure as City Council president in Los Angeles was marked with a sense of unanimity in the worst way (over 99% of votes were unanimous under his leadership, likely meaning that important discussions were made behind closed doors). LA stagnated under Wesson because he avoided hard choices; this is not what we look for in a politician. Wesson’s time as Council President also included corruption scandals that potentially implicated his office, and an extremely controversial redistricting effort. Add in Mitchell’s superior record on the environment, and her strong legacy of progressive legislative work in the State Senate and it becomes clear that while Wesson has started doing the right thing of late, Mitchell is the right choice for this seat.
For our judicial picks, we lean heavily on the recently-formed Public Defenders Union recommendations, as their expertise and perspective on the criminal justice system centers the needs of the type of defendants who can be easily exploited by the wrong type of judge. Overall, we believe the balance on the bench is tilted towards former prosecutors — when in doubt we side with the alternative in these races.
Office 162: David D. Diamond
David Diamond, an experienced trial attorney, is familiar with a wide variety of litigation and is fluent in procedure and evidentiary rules as an adjunct professor of criminal law. He has also served on the indigent criminal defense panel, providing a perspective that is sorely needed by the courts. Diamond is also up against a prosecutor, making him the clear choice in this race.
Office 72: Myanna Dellinger
Myanna Dellinger, a law professor, would bring years of sophisticated legal reasoning to the office. While her lack of trial experience is concerning — wrangling a courtroom is no small feat — she holds a clear advantage over prosecutor Steve Morgan. Her election would represent a fresh approach for the bench; Dellinger is the straightforward choice.
Office 80: Klint James McKay
Currently an administrative law judge, Klint James McKay impressed Public Defender Union representatives with his thoughtful and articulate answers to their questioning. McKay is focused on the judicial process, and his opponent has a background as a prosecutor. We think McKay’s temperament would be an asset to the bench.
LAUSD School Board
Seat 3 (San Fernando Valley): Scott Schmerelson
United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) has endorsed Scott Schmerelson for reelection in District 3. We acknowledge he voted against defunding LASPD (the school system’s massive internal police force), a decision we wholeheartedly disagree with. That said, UTLA’s official stance is they want cops out of schools as well. We assume they are settling this conflict internally and we defer to their internal practices and endorsements. We will be watching Schmerelson and holding his feet to the fire accordingly.
But this is a tight race against charter-school-endorsed Marilyn Koziatek. Her election would shift the power on the board back towards charter advocates. Further, she is invoking dog whistles around “local schooling” in her campaign that harken back to a deeply racist era of San Fernando Valley education politics. This will be a tight race, and it is imperative that Schmerelson wins.
Seat 7 (San Pedro/South LA): Patricia Castellanos
UTLA has endorsed Patricia Castellanos for District 7, which is about to be vacated by Dr. Richard Vladovic. If elected, Castellanos would be the only board member with a child enrolled in LAUSD. She’s currently employed as LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s Workforce Deputy. Her opponent Tanya Ortiz-Franklin is backed by charter school advocates. Castellanos is the clear choice here.
LAUSD Measure RR: YES
LAUSD is seeking approval for a $7 billion bond to fund construction and upgrades of school facilities and equipment. To pay for the bond, this measure extends an existing school construction property tax that would otherwise expire. LAUSD students deserve better facilities and equipment, and while the District has made progress in upgrading old facilities, it still has a long way to go. We strongly dislike the $450 million earmarked in this bill for charter schools and have some concerns about accountability for how this money will be spent. But our support for upgraded schools and equipment — as well as funding it by extending a property tax that would otherwise expire — prevails. Yes on RR.
LA Community College District
The Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) serves 250,000 students on nine campuses and is the largest two-year college system in the nation. Low-income students and students of color make up a majority of those enrolled. It also has one of the larger contracts with the sheriff’s department in the county, which has stations at each campus. On top of that, the trustees oversee a massive $3.3-billion construction bond program that has faced accusations of mismanagement.
The four candidates below are endorsed by LACCD faculty union. We recommend their slate, although we were not fully satisfied with their answers on the LACCD contract with the sheriff’s department.
Office 1: Dr. Andra Hoffman
Dr. Andra Hoffman, who is running for reelection, was initially elected to the Board in 2015 and became President of the Board in July 2019. In addition to having been a student at Valley College, Dr. Hoffman runs the Career Center and Job Placement Program at Glendale Community College, is a Professor of American and California government, and has 23 years of community college experience. After the 2016 Trump election, Dr. Hoffman advocated for sanctuary campuses on behalf of immigrant students, as well as gap pay for students in the wake of the pandemic.
When asked at a candidate forum about renegotiating LACCD’s contract with the sheriff’s department, Dr. Hoffman points to the murder of Andres Guardado as the most recent example in favor of reimaging public safety on campus. She does not believe the sheriff’s department should be removed altogether, but holds that their role should be altered. While we would have liked a stronger stance on the sheriff’s contract, Dr. Hoffman’s dedication to LACCD is clear — we support her reelection and look forward to following how she navigates this issue.
Office 3: David Vela
Prior to joining the Board, David Vela worked for Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg, served on the Montebello Board of Education, worked in public affairs and communications, and continues to own his own firm. In his first two years he has fought to increase student basic needs like access to computers, Internet, textbooks, food, and housing, even going as far as establishing a relationship with nonprofit Shower of Hope.
When asked to opine on LACCD’s contract with the Sheriff’s department, he spoke of the Board’s decision to devote savings from the contract and energy to Black student outreach, professional development and training. He also alluded to changing the relationship between the Sheriff’s department and the Explorer program for students who are interested in a career in law enforcement. He did not elaborate on what this partnership would look like, ultimately leaving us tepid in our support of his reelection.
Office 5: Nichelle Henderson
Nichelle Henderson is a professor at California State University, Los Angeles, with a platform focusing on the retention, transfer, and graduation rate of underserved groups in LA County. She has the endorsement of the LACCD faculty along with Black Lives Matter-LA co-founder Professor Melina Abdullah. Henderson would be a welcome addition to a Board that currently features no women of color.
The incumbent, Scott Svonkin, has served as a Trustee since 2011, yet is not an educator and has an extremely problematic background. He works as a director for the LA County Probation Department and previously served as a Senior Advisor to disgraced former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca. He has been accused of engaging in harassment and exhibiting threatening behavior towards the only female trustee on the Board.
Office 7: Mike Fong
Mike Fong won his spot on the Board in 2015 and is running for reelection to represent District 7. His priorities as a Trustee have included expanding workforce education and high-growth sector training programs. When asked to comment on the renegotiation of the contract with LASD as an example, Fong offered the exploration of deescalation techniques, risk assessment, and additional cultural and implicit bias training as potential compromises.
California State Propositions
As ever, we’ve seen massive amounts of money funneled into state proposition campaigns, with millions of dollars spent on print, television, and digital ads. It’s possible you’re already sick of watching Lyft co-opt Maya Angelou’s words for YouTube ads meant to convince you that exploiting workers is good, actually.
State propositions are often some of the most contentious, well-funded campaigns during any election, and as such there’s a lot of disinformation out there. We’ve sifted through that noise to provide a concise, consistently progressive viewpoint we feel is worth supporting.
Proposition 14: NO
We support stem cell funding writ large, but do not believe Proposition 14 — a $5.5 billion public bond measure to fund research for the state’s stem cell research institute — makes sense once you look at the specifics. The issues with this proposition are myriad, but they start with a basic lack of accountability or transparency. The proposition was developed by real estate developer (and former Chairman of the Governing Board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine) Robert N. Klein II, and seems designed to prevent oversight. There is a strange stipulation in the proposition requiring a 70% majority to pass any future modifications.
The biggest problem, though, is the revenue from patents developed in this institute will not go to the public, and there is no commitment to make medical gains made through this research available to the public at reasonable cost. This is a gut punch given that, including interest, we’re talking about $7.8 billion of public money. When the predecessor to this Proposition passed in 2004, the then-nascent stem cell research field was under existential attack. In 2020, this measure represents an unconscionable public giveaway to a poorly supervised institute. Proposition 14 makes no sense for California in 2020.
Proposition 15: YES
The California state budget is in crisis, and Proposition 15 will help solve the problem by closing the property transfer loophole, which allows properties owned by corporations to pay shockingly low property taxes. The initiative also allows for a phased in commercial property value reassessment which will raise money from large corporations while exempting small business-owners and homeowners. Money raised (estimated to be between $8–12 billion annually) will be earmarked for education and helping local governments fund public services. This is an easy yes vote for anyone who cares about education and equity in California.
Proposition 16: YES
California was the first state in the union to ban affirmative action in 1996 with the passage of Proposition 209. That was a huge mistake, and Proposition 16 would undo that, repealing Proposition 209 in full. Affirmative action’s absence hurt people of color’s chances of getting better education and higher paying contracts. The existing law prevents government institutions from doing what is needed to ensure hiring takes history into account. Recent protests demanding racial equity make it clear that reinstating affirmative action is the right way to go.
Proposition 17: YES
Proposition 17 restores the voting rights of individuals with felony convictions upon completion of their prison term. We believe people should never be stripped of their right to vote. Plain and simple. Restoring the right to vote for individuals with felony convictions is a step in the right direction towards true universal suffrage, and one that will largely enfranchise historically oppressed populations. We enthusiastically support this proposition.
Proposition 18: YES
The approval of Proposition 18 would allow 17-year-old Californians to vote in primary elections, provided that they will be 18 at the time of the general election. The argument for supporting this is simple: people who vote in a general election should have a say in who they get to vote for. That is, in essence, the purpose of a primary. The argument against this proposition is equally simple: Old Man Yells At Cloud. We support more enfranchisement, not less, so vote yes on Proposition 18.
Proposition 19: NO
Proposition 19 closes one property tax loophole in California, while opening up an even larger one that will perpetuate the wealth divide within California. The calculation here is whether Proposition 19 is a net positive for California, and our answer is a narrow no.
Proposition 19 would prevent wealthy families from passing down specific tax benefits for rental properties, an egregiously bad (if infrequently used) inheritance tactic. However, it would allow homeowners to take tax benefits with them when they move homes, a technique that could be used far more often, which is why the California Association of Realtors have spent $15 million in support. This would make it much easier for the wealthiest Californians to avoid paying their fair share. There is also a risk Proposition 19 will make California’s devastating gentrification crisis even worse by complicating inheritance laws around homes in which multi-generational families reside. On balance, this proposition gets a no from us.
Proposition 20: NO
Hell no! Proposition 20 would mangle years of activist work to end mass incarceration. It would reclassify 51 crimes and sentence enhancements as violent, opening up paths to more severe sentences, potentially excluding prisoners from the parole review program. This proposition would also put privacy at risk by allowing police to collect DNA for misdemeanor offenses, including shoplifting (grocery conglomerates are amongst the largest donors in support of Proposition 20; the other major donor group is, not kidding, prison guard unions).
And, of course, the implementation of all this would cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year — it’s hard to imagine a more disgusting way to waste our resources than by caging more people during a pandemic. Even former Governor Jerry Brown agrees Proposition 20 is bad policy wrapped up in scare tactics. Just vote no.
Proposition 21: YES
California is facing a crushing eviction crisis, and one way to keep people in their homes is to give municipalities the ability to protect tenants. Proposition 21 allows for expanded tenant protections and rent control by modifying the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act to allow for cities to protect tenants in properties that are at least 15 years old, while also exempting landlords who only own two or fewer units. This is a more moderate version of 2018’s Proposition 10, and answers many of the criticisms that proposition faced. This is a straightforward yes for anyone who believes in the rights of renters in California.
Proposition 22: NO Contrary to deceptive campaign ads, Proposition 22 is NOT about preserving driver flexibility or saving drivers from politicians (a strong tell: rideshare drivers oppose it). Proposition 22 is about granting a special exemption to app-based companies like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash (who have dumped a record $180 million dollars into this campaign) from following existing state laws that require them to provide drivers with fair wages, healthcare, unemployment insurance, sick leave, and other basic rights.
Proposition 22 would also dramatically weaken anti-discrimination and anti-harassment protections for drivers. It allows these companies to set aside existing laws and create their own rules and, as an added kick in the teeth for Californians, includes language requiring a shocking 7/8ths majority to undo. This is wholly unacceptable. This proposition gets a HARD NO from us.
Proposition 23: YES
Another year, another kidney dialysis-related measure. We’re recommending a soft yes vote on Proposition 23. While this proposed law does not go far enough to fix the parasitic dialysis industry, it represents a real challenge to the industry’s efforts to consolidate power. A yes vote will move us closer to accountability, requiring more doctors to be present at these facilities, and create a more labor friendly environment for healthcare workers.
Proposition 24: YES
Proposition 24 is, to put it lightly, complicated. The 52-page ballot initiative focused on digital privacy rights is a mix of half-measures and sputtering starts, ostensibly intended to strengthen the watershed California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). For instance, it limits how businesses can use information like sexuality, race, and precise location to profile customers (good) but also allows companies to offer loyalty discounts in exchange for tracking permission (bad).
That said, we believe it will be a net good for those who want to maintain their privacy while on the ‘net. Prop 24 will fund the creation of a 50-person digital privacy agency, and amendments will only require a simple majority rule in the legislature for further security enhancements (which it definitely needs). This is as tepid a recommendation as we can give, but it’s a yes from us.
Proposition 25: NO
Proposition 25 replaces cash bail with an even more restrictive system — handing enormous power to judges, probation departments, and racist/classist “risk assessment” algorithms to imprison defendants before trial, which essentially automates racial profiling. We reject the false dichotomy of choosing the side of mass incarceration or the bail bond industry. Our no vote is in favor of abolition and stronger paths to that end. One such path is Measure J, which includes elements that address pre-trial assessments that would be rendered ineffectual by Proposition 25.
Part of the reason why the Democratic Party supports Proposition 25 is because of lobbying by the influential Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which pushed hard for amendments to the law to give more power and funding to probation officers (who are members of SEIU). These amendments are why progressive groups like the ACLU and Ground Game LA withdrew their support. Our goal is to expand freedom — Proposition 25 does the opposite, likely increasing pretrial detention and coerced guilty pleas. For meaningful solutions to the blight of cash bail, check out sources like the LA County Alternatives to Incarceration Working Group.
California State Legislature
District 21 (Palmdale, Lancaster, Santa Clarita): Kipp Mueller
Kipp Mueller is a worker’s rights attorney with a progressive platform focusing on homelessness, wage inequality, and the environment. He deserves your vote over the incumbent, Republican Scott Wilk, in this High Desert district.
District 23 (San Bernardino County): Abigail Medina
Republican candidates received 54% of the vote in the March primary for this San Bernardino County open seat. However, Democrat Abigail Medina has a chance to upend expectations with a platform emphasizing environmental protections and expanded education funding.
District 25 (Burbank, Pasadena, North San Gabriel Valley): No Recommendation
From his perch as Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, incumbent Anthony Portantino has been a consistent roadblock to progressive legislation. That position gives him the unique ability to “hold bills,” essentially working as a pocket veto within the State Senate. Rather than wield his power to address the urgent problems we face, he’s shown he will instead act in favor of wealthy homeowners and big business. His write-in opponent is running on a Trump platform, so we cannot recommend either candidate in this race. This is Senator Portantino’s last term; we hope that next cycle a true progressive runs for this seat.
District 27 (Westside, Malibu): Henry Stern
Henry Stern has been a strong advocate for the environment, including supporting a prohibition of oil and gas activities within 2,500 feet of homes, schools, and hospitals this session. Unfortunately, this bill fell one vote short of moving forward this August, after corporate Democrats sided with fossil fuel interests over our health and safety. We do not blame Stern for this, and would like to see him push a similar environmental agenda next session.
District 29 (Almost entirely O.C., Small piece of Southeast L.A. County): Josh Newman
Josh Newman previously held this seat in Orange County, but lost a recall election in 2018 after angering Republican voters with his vote to raise the state gas tax in order to fund public transportation, roads, and bridges. We support Newman and hope a comeback victory will encourage other Democrats to take tough votes in the face of GOP opposition.
District 33 (Long Beach): Elizabeth Castillo
Incumbent Lena Gonzalez received more than $1 million in independent ad spending from oil companies, which propelled her to victory in a 2019 special election for this seat. In addition, when housing rights groups persuaded state senators in LA County to not vote for SB 50 (which had a mix of beneficial and problematic provisions) unless amended to provide stronger protections against displacement, Gonzalez was the only senator to vote yes anyway.
Gonzalez’s website says that she “firmly believes in Healthcare for All and that quality healthcare should never be determined solely by employment,” leaving open the possibility of maintaining differences in healthcare quality determined partially by employment. Her challenger, registered nurse Elizabeth Castillo, supports single-payer healthcare, the Green New Deal, and rent forgiveness. That and her refusal to take donations from corporations, make Castillo the choice.
District 35: (Inglewood, Compton, Carson): Steven Bradford
Steven Bradford has been a leader on police accountability, including last year passing AB392, a law reducing when police can use deadly force, and this year authoring SB 731, a bill that would have prohibited cops who commit serious misconduct from being re-hired at other police departments (an all-to-frequent occurrence). He’s earned another term.
A note on these recommendations: this most recent assembly session was a disaster in many ways. Not only did Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon refuse to allow for remote voting for new mother Buffy Wicks, but the Assembly also failed to consider a number of key pieces of legislation on housing and policing, and actively voted down a landmark environmental bill for the second year in a row. This despite the assembly having a Democratic supermajority! Additionally, as documented by KNOCK.LA’s John Kerin, this Assembly is deeply indebted to corporate powers that are clearly limiting its ability to effectively govern.
In light of this, we are taking a hard stance on these races: we are only recommending candidates who have actively earned a recommendation, and in races between two Democrats, we are leaning towards favoring the insurgent candidate. If the Assembly is unwilling to vote on key issues because they believe it is politically untenable to do so, we must make it even more politically untenable for them to avoid helping the most vulnerable Californians.
District 36 (Lancaster/Palmdale): No Recommendation
Incumbent Tom Lackey is a Republican who used his platform to performatively cry on behalf of killer cops when discussing a 2019 bill that limits police use of deadly force. He also takes money from tobacco companies and police unions.
That said, Democratic challenger Steve Fox, who held the seat in the past, is a former Republican with credible sexual harassment allegations in his past and a platform that advocates expanding police presence in schools. This is a really bad choice. Six other people ran in the primary and we almost certainly would have done better with any other option. We are not comfortable recommending either of these candidates.
District 38 (Santa Clarita Valley, Simi Valley, some of San Fernando Valley): No Recommendation
Somehow this is the lone race in LA County with two Republicans facing off against each other. They can both kick rocks.
District 39 (Northeastern San Fernando Valley, South San Gabriel Mountains): Luz Maria Rivas Luz Maria Rivas has a good record on housing and immigration. She is facing a Republican whose campaign Facebook page contains pro-Trump memes. Despite an imperfect record on policing, Rivas has done enough to earn our recommendation for reelection.
District 41 (San Gabriel Mountains, Pasadena): No Recommendation Chris Holden recently sponsored a sheriff oversight bill in the Assembly, as well as a task force for reparations and criminal justice reform. However, he also authored a multibillion dollar bailout for electric utilities that cause wildfires and included an exemption from liability for the catastrophic Paradise fire that killed around 100 people. That is unforgivable.
His opponent is a Republican who opposes immigration and is staunchly pro-police, but only received 31.3% of the vote, so this is not a competitive district and we cannot recommend either candidate.
District 43 (East San Fernando Valley, Northern tip of Central LA, South San Gabriel Mountains): Laura Friedman Laura Friedman has a strong, if imperfect, progressive voting record and has demonstrated a willingness to listen and adapt to feedback from her constituents. Her opponent is a Republican who opposes affordable housing expansion. Vote for Friedman’s reelection.
District 44 (Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, half of Ventura County): No Recommendation
Incumbent Jacqui Irwin is strong on environmental issues, but very weak on most other progressive topics — including police reform. However, she is running against a Republican who is, in her own words, “pro-life, pro-legal immigration, and pro-wall.” Irwin is better, but in a relatively safe Democratic seat we are not leveling a recommendation.
District 45 (Western San Fernando Valley): No Recommendation Incumbent Jesse Gabriel ran unopposed in the primary, so a write-in Republican qualified for the runoff. In the most recent session, Gabriel did not support several police reform bills, most notably Black Lives Matter-LA’s top priority, SB 731, to decertify police who wrongfully kill someone so they can’t be easily rehired by another agency. This heavily Democratic district will reelect Gabriel, so until he supports decertification, we won’t recommend a vote for him.
District 46 (Van Nuys, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, North Hills, Hollywood Hills): Adrin Nazarian
While not a progressive stalwart, Adrin Nazarian has been a reliably good vote on bills that reach the floor. That said, while he has voted the right way, he has also shown a lack of leadership on issues related to police — he was part of a bloc of votes that simply did not materialize for SB 731, which would have decertified police who murder people. His challenger Lanira Murphy is more progressive on some issues, but is also running on a strong anti-AB 5 platform (AB 5 was meant to give more protections to gig workers).
While AB 5 was problematic as first written, most of its opposition has been of the anti-labor variety, and her alignment with those forces gives us pause. This is an interesting race, and was one of our most difficult decisions as both candidates are decent but flawed, but in the end Nazarian’s voting record narrowly earns him our support.
District 48 (West Covina, Baldwin Park, Azusa, Glendora): No Recommendation Blanca Rubio is running for a second term unopposed. A bummer, because she takes thousands of dollars from pharmaceuticals, real estate, and fossil fuel companies. This corporate influence shows in her voting record. Assuming democracy is still around in two years, someone should run against her from the left.
District 49 (Alhambra, Monterey Park, Rosemead, Arcadia): No Recommendation
Edwin Chau is a moderate running against an anti-abortion monster type. While Chau has a decent voting record, in 2018 he killed a legislative Costa Hawkins repeal bill in committee (which would have allowed for expanded rent control and tenant protections across the state). He also voted no on repealing sentence enhancement for prior convictions and refused to support Black Lives Matter-LA’s top priority, SB 731, to decertify police who wrongfully kill people so they can’t be easily rehired by another agency.
He’s running against a GOP opponent who he will likely blow out of the water anyway (he previously defeated him in 2018 by amassing over 70% of the vote), so while we recommended Chau in the primary, we can no longer in good conscience recommend a vote for Chau after this session.
District 50 (Malibu, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Hollywood): Richard Bloom
Since his election to the seat in 2012, Richard Bloom has authored a lot of good bills, and has proactively fought for affordable and inclusionary housing. His opponent Will Hess is also listed as a Democrat, even though he is against sanctuary states, defunding the police, Black Lives Matter, and basically everything progressives want. Vote for Bloom.
District 51 (Edendale, Eagle Rock, East Los Angeles): No Recommendation Incumbent Democrat Wendy Carrillo represents one of the state’s most progressive districts, yet she’s been lukewarm on progressive causes like Medicare For All in the past. She is running unopposed for the 51st District seat, and has not done enough to warrant a recommendation.
District 52 (Pomona, Ontario, Chino): No Recommendation
Incumbent Freddie Rodriguez is a corporate Democrat with a history of abstaining from voting on justice reform bills. His challenger Republican Toni Holle hits all the standard right-wing fear-mongering points. Another race where a middling Democrat will comfortably win against an abhorrent Republican, and in the wake of this most recent session we are leveling no recommendation.
District 53 (Koreatown, DTLA, Boyle Heights, Huntington Park): Godfrey Plata
Godfrey Santos Plata is one of the rare genuinely progressive candidates running for State Assembly this fall. At a time when our state is in the middle of a massive housing crisis, Plata could be the sole renter in the 80-member California State Assembly (the current solitary renter, Todd Gloria, is running a tight race for Mayor of San Diego — plus he was a homeowner in 2008). Plata’s policies on housing, the environment, and healthcare are all extremely progressive.
So much so, in fact, that the incumbent Miguel Santiago has decided to shift left after years of taking tens of thousands of dollars of campaign contributions from oil companies, developers, and law enforcement associations. But it’s too little, too late. Vote for Plata.
District 54 (Westwood, Mar Vista, Culver City): Tracy Jones
We are glad that the incumbent, Sydney Kamlager, embraced some important policies, such as Medicare for All and the Homes Guarantee. However, we feel concerned about her support for need-based college tuition rather than free public college tuition as a right, especially since the district she’s running in includes UCLA. Means testing inevitably becomes a barrier to some who would otherwise qualify, such as single moms working multiple jobs, who might not have the time to go through all the required bureaucracy.
Her challenger, Tracy Bernard Jones, is a teacher who volunteered for Bernie Sanders in 2016 and 2020, campaigns for Medicare for All & banning fracking and against charter schools, and previously worked on establishing a gang truce in South Central LA. That is an undeniable progressive platform, earning Jones our support.
District 55 (Walnut, Rowland Heights, La Habra, Yorba Linda, Chino Hills): Andrew E. Rodriguez
Republican incumbent Phillip Chen is endorsed by the NRA and has historically voted against progressive bills related to education, rent relief, and environmental justice. Challenger Andrew Rodriguez wants to prioritize affordable housing and education, reusable energy, and paid family leave. Vote for Rodriguez.
District 57 (Whittier): No Recommendation
Republican Jessica Martinez thinks that Governor Gavin Newsom has a “far-left world view,” which isn’t a great sign. She is one of two plaintiffs (the other being District 39 candidate Ricardo Benitez) who sued Newsom over his proposal to give undocumented immigrants financial aid in the wake of the pandemic. She is quite bad. Unfortunately, Democrat Lisa Calderon (the stepmother of current District 57 Assemblymember Ian Calderon) isn’t much better.
While Calderon wants to focus on the homelessness crisis, environmental justice, and funding in education, there are some serious issues here. The Calderon political dynasty has had its fair share of controversy — the FBI busted her uncles Senator Ron Calderon and former State Assemblyman Tom Calderon for money-laundering and mail fraud in 2016. So while Calderon herself hasn’t been directly involved in any scandal, we hesitate to outright recommend a candidate that could potentially continue a corrupt political dynasty.
District 58 (Montebello, Downey, Bellflower, Cerritos): Margaret Villa
The incumbent, Cristina Garcia, received large contributions from real estate, landlord, and developer interests after being one of the few Democrats not to initially support AB 1482, the statewide rent cap bill. She also opposed public banking, and co-authored legislation to disenfranchise her own constituents in the Central Basin Municipal Water District. Her challenger, Margaret Villa, supports Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, rent control, and free public college tuition, and opposes water privatization.
District 59 (South Los Angeles): Reggie Jones-Sawyer
One of the more progressive members of the assembly, Reggie Jones-Sawyer is being challenged from the right by nominal Democrat Efren Martinez. Martinez is backed heavily by police money, and his election would be a blow to reform efforts. In a particularly vile move, law enforcement unions backing Martinez have gone so far as to release material with crosshairs over Jones-Sawyer.
While Jones-Sawyer’s record on the environment could be better, he is good on police reform and healthcare. Also, due to shifting demographics in the district, Jones-Sawyer is vulnerable in this race. Supporting him is the move in this election.
District 62 (Venice, Marina Del Rey, Inglewood, Hawthorne): No Recommendation
The incumbent, Autumn Burke, has a middling record in one of the safest districts in the state. She’s taken tens of thousands of dollars from oil companies, and she refused to support limits on oil and gas extraction in California. She also refused to back bills that would protect the environment by eliminating single-use plastics.
On top of that, she refused to vote against stopping the dialysis industry from steering patients away from Medicare towards private insurers, all while taking campaign contributions from the insurance industry. We must demand better from Democrats in seats as safe as Burke’s.
District 63 (Lynwood, Lakewood, South Gate, Bell): No recommendation (Recommendation changed on 10/3)
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon is being challenged in this race by Maria Estrada. In the past, Rendon killed California’s attempt to create a statewide single payer healthcare system. This most recent assembly session was a masterpiece in catastrophe, and Rendon bears the bulk of the blame. Rendon’s office failed to accommodate his fellow lawmakers, leading to the horrifying image of masked Assemblymember Buffy Wicks holding her newborn baby on the floor of the assembly after 11 PM on the final day of the session. And the Democratic supermajority he leads failed to pass a number of pieces of popular legislation that would have made California a better and more equal place to live, including SB 731 which would have made it easier to decertify criminal cops.
Estrada is centering her campaign on racial justice, environmental justice, and healthcare expansion. Unfortunately, we recently learned she also has a history of posts on social media that are extremely problematic. While we initially recommended a vote for her to send a message that legislative sessions like this most recent one are wholly unacceptable, we have changed that to a no recommendation in this race.
District 64 (Compton, Carson, Wilmington): Fatima Shahnaz Iqbal-Zubair
Fatima Iqbal-Zubair is a teacher, union member, and immigrant. Iqbal-Zubair, who is running a movement campaign that takes no money from special interests, put up an impressive result in the primary against a well-funded incumbent. She often speaks about the need to undo the systemic history of environmental racism that has caused residents of her district — littered with refineries — to have lower life expectancies than the rest of Southern California. It is these same refineries that fund her opponent, Mike Gipson, whose tenure in the Assembly has been fueled by oil money.
Gipson is also a former police officer and has supported only the weakest reforms to law-enforcement in the face of the George Floyd Uprisings. Iqbal-Zubair wants to hold the police and sheriffs accountable, and understands we need to defund the police and reinvest in the community. She supports Medicare For All, the Green New Deal, and is endorsed by a number of progressive groups in LA. If you live in this district, voting for Iqbal-Zubair is absolutely imperative.
Read more here for our full endorsement of Fatima Iqbal-Zubair
District 66 (Manhattan/Redondo Beach, Torrance, Rancho Palos Verdes): Al Muratsuchi
While Al Muratsuchi has a mixed record on some progressive issues, he has impressed on the environment, including co-sponsoring AB 345, which would have prohibited oil drilling within 2,500 feet of homes, schools, and hospitals. Muratsuchi’s opponent in this swing district is a far-right blogger whose platform is based on incredibly toxic hate and racism. Vote for Muratsuchi.
District 70 (Long Beach/Catalina and San Clemente Islands): No recommendation
Incumbent Patrick O’Donnell misrepresents a heavily Democratic district burdened with pollution by voting against oil and gas well testing requirements, public notification of health impacts of industrial projects, and reduced emissions from electrical generation. He also voted to retain mandatory sentencing enhancements and failed to vote for the statewide rent cap and just cause eviction protections. We are choosing not to recommend in this race, as O’Donnell’s opponent is a Republican who doesn’t believe in global warming.
District 8 (San Bernardino County, Inyo County, Mono County): Chris Bubser Chris Bubser is running in a district heavily affected by fires and climate change. Her background as a conservationist and engineer makes her a more than credible alternative to Trump-endorsed Republican Jay Obernolte, who is trying to maintain a conservative stranglehold on the district.
District 23 (Lancaster, Kern County, Bakersfield): Kim Mangone
In a district that includes only the northernmost part of LA County, Kim Mangone is running against Kevin McCarthy. Mangone is fine — she calls for expanding federal healthcare benefits and green energy production while stopping short of calling for Medicare For All or a Green New Deal. On the other hand, House Minority leader and extreme Trump loyalist McCarthy is amongst the worst human beings on Earth. If you live in District 23, please vote against him and for Mangone.
District 25 (Santa Clarita Valley, Simi Valley, parts of San Fernando Valley): Christy Smith
In May, Democrat Christy Smith lost the special election to Republican Mike Garcia in the wake of Katie Hill’s resignation. They face off again now, and we’re recommending a vote for Smith. We wish Smith’s approach in the state legislature or in running for Congress was more progressive. She has voted against a suite of housing bills in the Assembly that would benefit tenants, and she is running on lowering taxes and increasing police funding. We think, both morally and tactically, this is a misstep — Hill generated enthusiasm with a progressive campaign platform that Smith has failed to reproduce with her more conservative approach.
Smith has some strong aspects to her platform that are worth highlighting, like shutting down the dangerous Aliso Canyon gas facility. That said, many politicians have promised to shutter Aliso in the past few years, and none have actually mustered the political will to get it done. But the alternative in this extremely purple district is the disastrous Garcia. Garcia is a straight down-the-line Trump supporter, and giving him a full term would be a catastrophe. He is bad enough that sitting this race out is not an option; Smith gets our recommendation.
District 26 (Ojai, Ventura, Thousand Oaks, Oxnard, North Malibu): Julia Brownley
This is an extremely tepid recommendation for Julia Brownley, and both our support and the lack of conviction we have in that support come down to environmental issues. Despite being on the Congressional Climate Change Panel, Brownley has not stepped up to co-sponsor the Green New Deal. However, she did co-sponsor a fracking ban for coastal California, and has voted the right way when environmental legislation has reached the floor of the house.
That said, we expect more from someone representing an increasingly safe, coastal district where the environment is a primary concern. Her opponent though: yikes. Ronda Kennedy is a lawyer with a strict constructionist approach, and Scalia-lite vibes abound in her platform. She also has expanding law enforcement as her number one campaign priority. Bad stuff! Don’t vote for Kennedy — next cycle we hope someone will try and push Brownley from the left.
District 27 (Los Angeles Forest, dipping down into northern Inland Empire): Judy Chu
Judy Chu represents the West San Gabriel Valley and is, actually, really good! She signed onto the Green New Deal, she’s good on immigration, she is a consistent good vote on the issues that matter, and takes the lead in the right direction on divisive matters. She’s a progressive, she’s powerful, and largely does the right things. Her opponent is running on getting more guns in schools (seriously), pro-life nonsense, and an unworkable flat tax.
District 28 (West Hollywood, Burbank, parts of Pasadena and Glendale): No Recommendation
Adam Schiff’s a mixed bag. While he’s effectively attacked the president and signed onto the Green New Deal, his record on foreign policy is disastrous. He remains a Democrat in the Dianne Feinstein mold, repeatedly voting to increase military budgets and law enforcement powers. If your voting record in your primary realm of policy expertise draws comparisons to Feinstein in a district as progressive as CA-28, that is a huge problem.
Schiff’s opponent Eric Early is extremely conservative, and frankly not a credible threat (Schiff should win this race comfortably). We are disappointed that our primary recommendation, Maebe A. Girl, did not make the general election to push Schiff from the left. Next cycle, we would like to see Schiff face-off against a challenger who can hold him accountable on his approach to foreign policy.
District 29 (North/Central San Fernando Valley): Angelica Dueñas
Angelica Dueñas is the type of progressive candidate that should give Californians hope for the future. She supports the Green New Deal, Medicare For All, and the Homes Guarantee, recognizing the urgent need to address the crises of climate change, healthcare, and housing affordability. She is running a grassroots, working class campaign, and her candidacy is an outgrowth of years of dedicated activism and service in her community.
Her opponent, Congressman Tony Cárdenas, represents everything wrong with the current Democratic establishment. Despite representing a deep-blue district, Cárdenas holds centrist positions on healthcare and the environment, and has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from large pharmaceutical, health insurance, and fossil fuel companies. Astoundingly, Cárdenas is currently seeking the position of Assistant Speaker of the House, a promotion that would further cement the rot in the Democratic Party.
Dueñas deserves your strong support.
District 30 (Borders Simi Valley and San Fernando Valley): No Recommendation
Brad Sherman has been in Congress for 23 years, but has done little to nothing to advance a progressive agenda. He will win this seat, but his record is insufficient to warrant a recommendation. His opponent, Republican Mark Reed, is not a credible threat and certainly does not deserve your vote.
District 32 (El Monte, Azusa, West Covina): Grace Napolitano
Grace Napolitano has been in office for over two decades as an archetypal middle of the road Democrat. She is a safe liberal vote for anything good that has a chance of passing. She’s fine.
There’s a need for an injection of new energy in this district soon, but it’s not her opponent. Joshua Scott brings the absolute worst type of young Republican, business guy energy. He’s running on a straight down the line conservative platform: more guns, building the wall, and worse healthcare coverage. Vote Napolitano.
District 33 (Thin strip of coast stretching from Malibu to Rancho Palos Verdes): Ted Lieu
Ted Lieu’s seat is safe, and his rhetoric often outpaces his accomplishments. That said, he is a solid vote, and his opponent is extremely conservative. Vote for Lieu this cycle, and hopefully someone challenges him from the left in the future to push him even further in the correct direction.
District 34 (Central, East, and Northeast Los Angeles): David Kim
David Kim is a strong progressive challenger in an extremely progressive district. He supports the Homes Guarantee, the abolition of ICE, and the Green New Deal. While his past in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office may raise eyebrows for some, his current work as an activist should ease that tension (Kim is still a participant in protests that support defunding the police).
His emphasis on Universal Basic Income over some other welfare policies is perhaps not the tact we would take to reduce inequality, but Kim would represent a marked improvement over his opponent, Jimmy Gomez. We recommend giving him your vote.
District 37 (Central Los Angeles): Karen Bass
Bass is the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus and focuses on criminal justice reform, foster care, and relations with Africa. While her national profile is on the rise, she is still focusing on solving problems in her district like the issue of mail delivery at the Mar Vista Gardens public housing facility. We recommend a vote for Bass, and we hope she continues to rise within the party ranks.
District 38: (Border of East LA County and North Orange County): Michael Tolar
Challenger Michael Tolar was guaranteed a place on the November ballot, running uncontested for one of two spots. Tolar, who identifies as a progressive Democrat, only received 22.3% of the primary vote, but we hope he does better in the general election. The incumbent, Linda Sanchez, voted for every one of Trump’s National Defense Authorization Acts, including the most recent one that authorized selling bombs to Saudi Arabia to attack Yemen.
She also voted for Trump’s free trade deal with Mexico and Canada, doesn’t advocate for Medicare for All, and her husband has been indicted on federal corruption charges. Michael Tolar supports Medicare for All and rent control, and refuses to take any corporate PAC money.
District 39 (Southeast LA County, North Orange County, West San Bernardino County): Gil Cisneros
While Gil Cisnero’s early support for the Green New Deal and his anti-corporate PAC money pledge energized progressives in this Orange County swing district, his record and rhetoric since has proven decidedly moderate. However, a vote for Young Kim is not the answer — she’s running on a cookiecutter Republican platform, and her campaign is funded by the pharmaceutical industry and other large corporate donors.
District 40 (East LA, Downey, Paramount, Bell, South Central, Commerce): No Recommendation
Incumbent Lucille Roybal-Allard voted to fund ICE in a district with a large undocumented population. She doesn’t advocate for Medicare for All in a district with a large number of uninsured people, and she voted for the president’s National Defense Authorization Acts. She inherited her seat from her dad nearly 30 years ago.
The Republican challenger squeaked into the runoff with just 13.7% of the vote, and there are very few Republican voters in this district, so she has no chance of losing. We are issuing no recommendation in this race.
District 43 (Inglewood, Lawndale, Torrance): Maxine Waters
Representative Maxine Waters is running against a Republican who openly praises President Trump for the economy. Waters has a long, solid record, and recently has sponsored bills to provide financial relief in the midst of a pandemic.
This one’s a bit of a no-brainer — Waters deserves your vote. However, as the chair of the Financial Services Committee, we wish Waters would bring her activist streak to addressing the impending eviction crisis through rent cancellation or other more drastic measures than the ones she is currently proposing.
District 44 (South LA and the Harbor region, including Carson, Compton, Watts, Wilmington, and San Pedro): Nanette Diaz Barragán
Nanette Barragán has maintained a strong track record since being elected in 2016. Barragán has been especially proactive about fighting racial health disparities and discrimination throughout the pandemic. She also has refused to take any oil company money, and has actively opposed oil company bailouts alongside Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey. We recommend reelecting a strong progressive in Barragán.
District 45 (Orange County including Irvine, Laguna Hills, Tustin): Katie Porter
Katie Porter established herself as a powerful progressive voice during her first term in Congress, especially on issues of economic justice and the financial industry. Her reelection prospects are good compared to the other OC freshman Democrats, which goes to show that progressive positions are an asset, not a detriment, to candidates in swing districts. Enthusiasm matters, and Porter has earned it.
District 47 (Long Beach, Catalina Island, Westminster, Garden Grove and some of western Orange County): Alan Lowenthal
Several progressive candidates ran for this seat in the March primary, but unfortunately the runoff is between long-time representative Alan Lowenthal and GOP opponent John Briscoe. Lowenthal is our pick for this race. Lowenthal has consistently fought against fracking and is a co-sponsor of Medicare For All legislation. Lowenthal has a strong enough progressive legislative record to earn our support, especially against a Republican who is running on criminalizing the unhoused residents of his district.
District 50 (Central and Northeastern San Diego County): Ammar Campa-Najjar
In 2018, progressive Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar nearly won this dark-red district east of San Diego — all while facing racist attacks from his now-retired Republican opponent. Campa-Najjar continues to advance a progressive platform and faces former Congress member Darrell Issa, who held the title “Richest Member of Congress” while in-office. Despite the conservative history of the district, Campa-Najjar and Issa are running a tight race. Give Campa-Najjar your vote.
District 53 (San Diego County including parts of Chula Vista and El Cajon, central and eastern portions of the city of San Diego): Georgette Gómez
San Diego has the opportunity to add a new member to The Squad with progressive candidate Georgette Gómez, a proponent of cancelling student debt and the Green New Deal. Gómez, who is backed by AOC and Bernie Sanders, faces former Clinton staffer Sara Jacobs, who has significantly outspent Gómez with her family’s tech fortune. Go with the progressive over the heir to the Qualcomm fortune.
All of the following races are in smaller cities and districts in Los Angeles County, and we’re covering them because we feel they’re incredibly important. While we are not covering every election (it’s a big county, and there are a lot of races), we have highlighted great progressive candidates and measures wherever we could find them. These elections have the capacity to create real, measurable change in their communities. Additionally, voting in these elections really, really matters given the relatively small sizes of the electorate.
These races are listed in alphabetical order by municipality/district:
City Council District 3: Chris Olson (Recommendation added 10/23)
Chris Olson is the former director of the Pasadena Rape Hotline and supports rent control, developing a Climate Action Plan to 100% renewable energy, and the Alhambra Election and Campaign Finance Reform Act. The incumbent opposes the city’s campaign finance initiative and takes money from developers whose projects fall under the council’s purview.
City Council District 4: Sasha Renee Perez
Alhambra’s Sasha Renee Perez is an outstanding progressive candidate. She supports the Alhambra Election and Campaign Finance Act, creating a climate action plan, and taking active steps to support renters and unhoused residents. She is running to unseat David Mejia, an LAPD officer with a conservative voting record. Sasha Renee Perez has the potential to be a transformational figure in Alhambra city politics, and deserves your vote.
Measure V (Alhambra Election and Campaign Finance Act): YES
Alhambra is currently wide open for the corrupting influence of money in politics. There are no individual limits on campaign donations for local races, making races expensive and functionally undemocratic. The Alhambra Election and Campaign Finance Act would remedy this, creating a $250 per person limit on donations, and explicitly prohibiting donations from developers in the city.
It also creates “by-district” elections, making City Council elections limited to residents of a given district. Alhambra currently has a strange hybrid system, where all city residents vote for all City Councilmembers, but they are still divided by the district they live in; the proposed alternative is the more democratic option. This is a cool measure that makes politics in Alhambra better in three common sense ways, and we urge a yes vote.
Mayor: Emmanuel Estrada
Emmanuel Estrada is a progressive challenger whose platform advocates for affordable housing and parks, and he has been quoted supporting rent control, and police accountability (although it is not on his official platform). The incumbent, Manuel Lozano, used public land for building warehouses instead of affordable housing and granted a single cannabis distributor a monopoly in the city after it gave campaign contributions to politicians.
City Council: Danny Damian
Danny Damian is a challenger running against a city council majority that wants to destroy 80 homes and 100 businesses to hand a prime part of the city to a developer. Damian wants to increase eviction protections, affordable housing, as well as housing and resources for homeless people. This is a housing platform we can get behind, and we support Damian accordingly.
City Council: Konstantine Anthony
Konstantine Anthony has a unique perspective to offer the Burbank City Council. He has pledged not to take donations from corporations, corporate PACs, property developers, realtors, landlords, fossil fuel executives, or police associations. Anthony is also an advocate for affordable housing, and is a co-author of Measure RC. He also wants to build a fully functional homeless shelter in Burbank, partnering with local organizations to do so. Anthony himself is formerly unhoused, and would bring that lived experience to his decision-making in-office.
Additionally, he wants to create a fully-connected bike path network in Burbank, as well as dedicated Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lanes. Anthony is against the militarization of police, and will push for decoupling police from schools and mental health services. He believes the Green New Deal should start locally, and supports increasing the minimum wage. Anthony’s platform is top to bottom excellent, and we believe he is the right choice for Burbank.
Rent Control — RC: YES
Burbank does not have rent control. It does not have no-fault eviction protection. Renters in Burbank are vulnerable, especially given the larger forces affecting the housing market in the Los Angeles area. If passed, Burbank tenants would have a suite of rights similar to those in the City of Los Angeles, including limiting evictions to those based on stated reason and just cause, having the landlord pay for relocation for no-fault evictions, and capping annual rent increases at the rate of inflation with a 7% ceiling. Although there is room for improvement, this is a measurable improvement from the current situation. This is straightforward progressive policy that will help keep renters in their homes.
Central Basin Municipal Water District
Central Basin MWD, Division 4: Leticia Vasquez Wilson
Municipal Water Districts are often overlooked, but they’re crucially important for determining the future of California’s essential water supply. Wilson is an incumbent who opposed the attempt by the state legislature to disenfranchise voters of the Central Basin Municipal Water District (SB 625), a step that led to the privatization of another water district in the area. Wilson has organized protests and public comment against water privatization generally and SB 625 in particular, so we recommend her for this seat.
She is also running for the Water Replenishment District of Southern California, Division 5 — we recommend her for this position as well. If the legislature chooses to bring back SB 625, the fate of the Central Basin might be in the hands of the Replenishment District.
Central Basin MWD, Division 5: Rodolfo Cortes Barragan
Barragan is running against an incumbent who supported the attempted disenfranchisement of the voters of the Central Basin Municipal Water District by SB 625. Like Wilson, Barragan has organized against water privatization and SB 625. Additionally, he previously received our recommendation as a progressive for Congress, so we recommend him for this seat. Another qualified candidate who opposed SB 625, Sara P. Huezo, is running for this seat and for the Paramount Unified School District; we recommend her in that race.
City Council District 5: Bennett Rea (Recommendation added 10/23)
Bennett Rea is an experienced nonprofit advocate who supports eviction moratoriums, subsidizing childcare, defunding police, ethnic studies in schools, and income-based fines and fees.
Claremont Unified School District, Member, Board of Trustees: Chris Naticchia (Recommendation added 10/23)
Chris Naticchia is a professor and parent who is endorsed by the Claremont Faculty Association. He has experience as a school volunteer and as a member of the district’s parent advisory committee for the Local Control Accountability Plan. He also supports ethnic studies and re-examining school safety, including limiting the impact of armed officers on students.
City Council: Freddie Puza, Yasmine McMorrin, Darrel Menthe
Culver City’s City Council has moved to the left over the years. It’s now in a position to pass a rent stabilization ordinance and plan for additional transit adjacent affordable housing as a result. It’s been great to see. In order to preserve that progressive majority, the council will need a couple of strong progressives to win seats in this election. Voters will be able to select three candidates, and we view Freddie Puza, Yasmine McMorrin, and Darrel Menthe as the strongest options in the field.
Puza’s focus is on a humane, housing-first approach to solving the homelessness and housing affordability crisis, informed by years of doing direct outreach work. McMorrin’s campaign centers on taking a holistic approach to equity and inclusion in Culver City. Darrel Menthe receives our third recommendation: he is a lawyer who supports reimagining policing, expanding transit options, and increasing housing options. He also opposes Measure B, which would thwart Culver City’s rent control efforts. All three have a host of progressive endorsers, and earn our hearty recommendation.
Rent Control Initiative Measure B: NO
Culver City passed a rent control initiative in 2019 that adds the city to the list of municipalities in LA County with laws on the books to help keep renters in their homes. Unfortunately, a reactionary conservative managed to get an initiative on the ballot that would undo that work: Measure B. Do not fall for this initiative. Preserving the tenant protections the city passed, especially amidst the COVID pandemic, is a moral imperative. This gets an extremely HARD NO from us.
Real Estate Transfer Tax RE: YES
We support Measure RE as it would create a transfer tax that would lead to a more progressively taxed Culver City. This transfer tax would increase the tax on properties sold in Culver City on a progressive basis for properties valued over $1.5 million. This tax, which would exempt affordable housing projects, would help raise money in Culver City (an area that has notoriously low property taxes) without putting a burden on homeowners who potentially could not pay an increased property tax.
Culver City Unified School District: Kelly Kent, Paula Amezola de Herrera
Incumbent Kelly Kent is a neuroscientist who has centered her campaign on equity. She is endorsed by the current bloc of progressive city councilmembers in Culver City and KNOCK.LA-recommended candidates Holly Mitchell and Karen Bass. Paula Amezola De Herrera is an epidemiologist focused on supporting students dealing with insecure housing. We are confident that both would make excellent school board members for Culver City.
City Council District 1: Alexandria Contreras
Alexandria Contreras is running a volunteer-driven progressive grassroots campaign focusing on affordable housing initiatives including rent freezes and rent control, as well as other progressive issues like climate change and re-imagining public safety. Give her your vote.
City Council District 3: Catherine Alvarez
Catherine Alvarez is the founder of the Downey Tenants Union and an incredibly strong progressive candidate fighting for the most vulnerable members of the Downey community. She is an excellent candidate.
City Council District 5: Juan Martinez
Juan Martinez is a progressive challenges focusing on rental assistance in the wake of COVID-19, environmental sustainability, and expansion of community services. He is an outspoken member of the Downey community, and has come out specifically against AB625 and allegations of corruption in Downey City Hall.
El Camino Community College District
Trustee, District 1: George A. Turner, Jr.
#ReimagineElCamino is the motto of public defender George A. Turner, Jr., who is running to represent the Inglewood area. His priorities include increasing the percentage and diversity of full-time faculty and staff, reimagining the relationship between the college and its alumni, and addressing food insecurity among students. His opponent, incumbent Kenneth A. Brown, is an engineer at Northrup Grumman, a top weapons manufacturer.
Trustee, District 3: No recommendation (Recommendation updated 10/23)
While we previously recommended Peter Aziz, we confirmed via a social media post that Aziz communicated with an organizer from the El Camino College Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 13888 that he is not actively campaigning for the seat. The union has decided to endorse another candidate.
Trustee, District 4: Nicole Ryan (Recommendation added 10/23)
Nicole Ryan is a professor and former community college coach who is endorsed by the El Camino College Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1388. Her main opponent, David Kartsonis, is endorsed by the El Camino College Police Officers Association.
Mayor: Irma Zamorano
Irma Zamorano is an experienced progressive challenger who served as a city commissioner and elected school board member. She advocates for affordable housing and rent/mortgage forbearance and forgiveness. The incumbent, Andre Quintero (a Biden DNC delegate), used his position as mayor to sell a public park to a developer. Zamorano is the choice here.
City Council: Gabriel Ramirez, Victoria Martinez Muela
Gabriel Ramirez is a progressive challenger who advocates for renter rights, campaign finance reform, and police accountability in a city where officers have been caught on video beating unarmed, non-violent people. He is running in a race for two seats that includes two incumbents and another challenger. The incumbent he is targeting, Jerry Velasco, is a Biden DNC Credentials Committee appointee who has enmeshed himself in layers of scandal. In a particularly notorious incident, he got the city to pay out a workers compensation claim after a traffic collision in which he injured another driver after drinking at an El Monte police academy graduation. We do recommend supporting the other incumbent, Victoria “Vicky” Martinez, the only sitting councilmember willing to take on Councilmember Velasco.
El Monte Housing initiative: HN YES
In California, municipalities need to vote to expand their capacity to build affordable housing. This is a procedural hurdle put in place decades ago by anti-Communist conservatives. The whole system is silly, but it must be done. El Monte has been building more subsidized, affordable projects, and now needs to vote to allow itself to do more. A yes vote will help support El Monte’s low income community, and contribute positively to the region’s larger affordable housing goals.
Keppel Union School District
Board Member: Christropher I. Minsal (Recommendation added 10/5)
Minsal is a parent and former student of this school district who has been involved in the district for the past ten years through groups like the local Parent Teacher Organization, the district’s Arts Committee, and the Pearblossom Rural Town Council. He supports increasing arts programming in schools and opposes efforts by the current conservative high school district trustees to defund students’ school lunches.
Lennox School District
Board of Trustees: Christian Lucas (Recommendation added 10/23)
Christian Lucas is a school aide for special needs students who supports prioritizing special education, mental health, and expanding the curriculum.
City Council District 2: No Recommendation
Two candidates are vying for the soon to be vacant Long Beach City Council District 2 seat. Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce, the progressive incumbent, chose not to seek reelection after a relatively successful, albeit tumultuous, first term.
Robert Fox is a landlord and a NIMBY, who has been dedicated in his antagonism towards Pearce throughout her time in office. Cindy Allen is a retired Long Beach police officer with ties to Mayor Robert Garcia and City Hall that contrastingly feel too friendly for comfort. Despite both offering policy proposals on affordable housing, homelessness, and police reform among other issues, the candidates remain uninspiring and frankly untrustworthy.
KNOCK.LA withholds a recommendation on this race, but will stay tuned for follow-through from the future elected — if Fox, on the establishment of a Downtown Triage Center for unhoused folks, and if Allen, on the promise to reallocate funds away from LBPD and into social services and programs. Ultimately and unfortunately, no matter which candidate prevails this November, the void where a champion for progressive values once was will surely be felt.
City Council District 6: Suely Saro
Suely Saro is an educator and organizer running for Long Beach City Council in District 6. This seat has been held by incumbent Dee Andrews for 12 years, who won his last reelection in 2016 as a write-in candidate. While that is no small feat, over the last four years residents have lost trust and confidence that this incumbent can meet their community’s needs. Andrews provides weak (if any) proposals on housing, police reform, and economic development.
Though she is not a leftist, Suely Saro on the other hand presents herself as an alternative far more progressive than the incumbent. She is the first Cambodian woman in Long Beach’s history to run for City Council, and she won the March 3rd primary with a staggering 16% lead over Andrews. Her leadership will shift the district in the right direction and is sure to be a breath of fresh air for frustrated voters.
City Council District 8: Tunua Thrash-Ntuk
Tunua Thrash-Ntuk is a housing expert and advocate running to unseat two-term incumbent Al Austin. She is currently serving as Executive Director of LISC Los Angeles, a nonprofit community development financial institution that primarily funds solutions to Los Angeles County’s housing and homelessness crisis. Austin is a career labor union representative who has represented District 8 since 2012. In the last few years, he’s received backlash on several fronts, including his lack of response to the growing homelessness population and his ineffective use of Measure A funds.
He is backed by police unions and a slew of corporate dems, including Mike Gipson — State Assemblymember of the 64th District, who is being challenged by Ground Game LA endorsed Fatima Iqbal-Zubair. Much like Saro in District 6, Thrash-Ntuk is by no means a leftist, but would shift the district in a more progressive direction. Having defeated Austin in the primary, it appears District 8 voters also consider her a welcome change in leadership.
Measure US (Increase Oil Extraction Tax): YES
This barrel tax in the city of Long Beach is a small step in the right direction. It makes offshore oil firms pay a small additional tax. The revenue from this tax will be used to combat the harm their products cause by supporting programs addressing health inequities, environmental justice, and other worthy issues. However, the argument that this will make oil companies “pay their fair share in revenue” is malarkey. Our position is that slightly more tax is better than less, but it stops far short of our ultimate goal of stopping offshore oil drilling either by taxing it out of existence or banning it.
City Council: Phoebe Lyons (Recommendation added 10/23)
Phoebe Lyons is a lifelong Manhattan Beach resident who calls for more accountability for police, opposes desalinization and supports an anti-racist policy framework for the city.
School Board: Jason Boxer
Jason Boxer is a strong progressive advocate and an alumnus of MBUSD, and will bring that perspective to a Manhattan Beach School Board that has a conservative history.
City Council: Carlos Alvarez (Recommendation added 10/23)
Carlos Alvarez has lived in Maywood for 20 years and works as a supervisor at Optimum Medical. As a councilmember, he introduced an emergency pandemic rental assistance program in July 2020. Alvarez is running together with Maria R. Villatoro Montes for City Treasurer and Cesar Flores for City Clerk.
City Council: Scarlet Peralta
Scarlet Peralta is a 27-year-old self-described community educator and organizer. She has a background in public policy and organizing, having worked on Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign. She is currently serving on the City’s Investment Committee and has a platform that focuses on economic development, sustainability, housing, and increased transparency in City Hall.
Over the last couple of years, the City of Montebello has been working to repair its reputation after being classified as a “high-risk local government” in a damning report released by State Auditor Elaine Howle in 2018. Since then, three of the five city council incumbents have been unseated, while a fourth seat, vacated by Vanessa Delgado in her run for State Senate, was filled by newcomer David Torres in a 2019 special election. This November, two seats, including Torres’, are up for grabs. Peralta, whose policy proposals are somewhat vague and not explicitly left-leaning, is aligning herself with Torres and aiming to unseat the far less progressive Jack Hadjinian.
Hadjinian, who has served since 2011, is the last remaining councilmember with a tenure that not only predates the infamous 2018 State Audit, but in fact spans the period of waste, fraud, and corruption highlighted therein. If Montebello is committed to preserving their newfound financial stability and to restoring trust in their local leadership, a vote for Peralta is a vote for those goals.
Measure JJ: YES
Measure JJ would update Monterey Park’s City General Plan Land Use Element. It allows for more rental units to be built downtown, and create more transit accessibility. It would create the zoning conditions required for the city to outpace its projected housing needs over the next decade, making it easier to produce affordable housing, and to do so on major corridors. Developed using an inclusive, participatory process, Measure JJ would update Monterey Park’s planning to create a city prepared for the future.
Mountains and Rec Conservation Authority
Measure HH: YES
This is a parcel tax to pay for fire protection. We usually oppose parcel taxes because they typically levy a flat amount for each property, whether it’s a small house or a large office building, but in this case, almost everyone who will pay is a homeowner in the wealthiest area of LA — the canyons from Bel Air to Studio City — so we are not concerned about the impact. We are concerned about fires, and want funding to prevent them; HH will provide that. Vote yes.
Mayor: Eric Andrew Ohlsen (Recommendation added 10/23)
Eric Andrew Ohlsen supports stopping local law enforcement from voluntarily assisting harassment by federal immigration agents. On his Facebook profile picture he has promoted Proposition 15, Schools and Communities First, which would be paid by commercial property owners. The incumbent, Steve Hofbauer, calls for more money to be spent on law enforcement and is endorsed by the Association of LA Deputy Sheriffs, Association of Deputy District Attorneys, and the Antelope Valley Republican Assembly.
Paramount Unified School District
Member, Board of Trustees: Sara P. Huezo Recommendation added (11/1)
Sara P. Huezo supports free public internet and Proposition 15 which would increase school funding statewide. In addition, she advocated for AB 746 to test for lead in water at schools, a key intersectional issue between education and environmental justice.
City Council, District 6: Miranda Sheffield Recommendation added (10/23)
Miranda Sheffield grew up in the foster system, and is a child welfare advocate. She currently serves as an organizer of Pomona United for Stabilized Housing (PUSH) and as a core member of Police Oversight Starts Today (POST), a group that supports creating a police commission with the authority to challenge police misconduct. She also supports rent control and eviction protections, as well as a vacancy tax to discourage real estate speculation.
Santa Clarita Community College District
Trustee, Area 3: Sebastian Cazares
Sebastian Cazares’ endorsements include the California Teachers Association, the COC board of trustees, the COC Faculty Association, the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, COC’s school employees, educators, and students. His platform is inclusive and is founded in ensuring students’ mental health and wellness and their basic needs being met, particularly in this time of crisis. Cazares is running against a mortgage financier backed by the local Republican party; we strongly recommend Cazares to fill this open seat.
Measure SM (Real Estate Transfer Tax): YES
A progressive real estate transfer tax on properties over $5 million, Measure SM is a strategy Santa Monica is using to try to deal with their pandemic-related budget issues. This is a relatively modest approach to balancing Santa Monica’s budget and would give leaders there the capacity to do more work to create equity in the city. We recommend a yes vote.
(Recommendations added after initial publication) City Council District 1: Phil Loos
Simi Valley has long been controlled by a conservative majority, including the City Council member in District 1. Loos, whose background is in health care, has a strong take on improving the Simi Valley budget situation by generating new sources of revenue without relying on onerous fines and fees. While not an abolitionist, Loos also calls for a reduction in police spending to bring Simi Valley’s police budget in line with neighboring cities, and a deployment of those funds towards alternative methods of first response. Loos is the sort of reformer that Simi Valley needs to become a more just and equitable city, so we are dipping our toe just over the County border to recommend his candidacy, along with the next two candidates.
City Council District 3: Ryan Valencia
Up against a law and order conservative, Valencia is an environmental advocate and someone who wants to slash government spending. He is young, but he has deep roots in the community and the most progressive platform of the three candidates in the race. Given the fires that have beset Simi Valley and its proximity to the environmentally sensitive Santa Susana facility, someone with Valencia’s perspective would be a crucial voice for environmental justice on Simi Valley’s City Council.
Mayor: Joe Ayala
Ayala is a longtime labor organizer with a lens towards policy that would benefit workers. He is also deeply critical of the current mayor’s COVID-19 response. The current mayor also opposes all taxes and will not consider reallocating police funding for alternatives. Replacing him would be an exceptional leap forward for Simi Valley. There are other progressive challengers in this race, including a guy who plays in a ska band, but Ayaala pairs values and organizing experience in a way that suggests he is the right man for the job.
Simi Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees, Area C: Sofya Bagdasaryan
Sofya Bagdasaryan is a Cal State LA professor who supports restorative justice and increasing support for families with children with special needs. She is endorsed by Our Revolution.
Calleguas Municipal Water District, Director, Division 1: Kameren Chase Neal
Kameren Chase Neal supports programs to address climate change and cleaning up water contamination from perchlorate and the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. He is endorsed by Our Revolution. Neal is up against incumbent Thomas Slosson, and Navy veteran Raul Avila, a Republican whose actions led to an anti-racist group in Simi Valley getting bombarded with hate-filled messages.
District 1: Evelyn Zneimer District 3: Michelle Hammond (Recommendations added 10/5)
The current City Clerk, Zneimer, is both an experienced public servant in South Pasadena and a candidate preaching the need for change. Her public statements have spoken to addressing an opaque General Plan process and systemic racism amongst the youth of South Pasadena. Hammond is an environmental and transportation advocate. Both would push South Pasadena in a more progressive direction.
Torrance Unified School District
Board of Trustees: Jasmine Park (Recommendation added 10/23)
Jasmine Park graduated from Torrance schools and supports restorative justice and diversity in education. Having worked on youth and education privacy, she will defend students from surveillance and the school-to-prison pipeline. Her opponents, Ron Riggs and Anil Muhammed, are endorsed by the Torrance Police Officers Association.
Water Replenishment District of Southern California
Division 2: Joe L. Macias (Recommendation added 10/23)
The incumbent, Robert “Rob” Katherman, is endorsed by State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, who pushed the bill to give the Central Basin MWD to this agency, and former LA Antonio Villaraigosa, who has been a lobbyist for the Cadiz water privatization scheme that Food & Water Watch has fought for 20 years. The incumbent was charged (but acquitted) of embezzlement and supports building a desalination plant that could harm wildlife. By contrast, Joe L. Macias is a union organizer who opposes both the proposed desalination plant and the twin tunnels that will drain the Sacramento River Delta to enable more real estate development in Southern California.
Division 5: Leticia Vasquez Wilson
Leticia Vasquez Wilson is an elected director of the Central Basin Municipal Water District who opposed the attempted disenfranchisement of the voters of the Central Basin by the state legislature (SB 625), a step that led to the privatization of another water district in the area. Wilson has organized protests and public comment against water privatization generally and SB 625 in particular, so we recommend her for this seat. She is also running for reelection in Central Basin MWD, Division 4, for which we recommend her as well.
West Basin Municipal Water District
Director, Division 3: Desi Alvarez (Recommendation added 10/23)
Desi Alvarez is an environmental engineer who opposes a proposed $500 million desalination plant and wants to reduce imported water. The incumbent, Carol Kwan, thinks “All lives matter, Black lives matter, police lives matter, all lives matter and if you want success, you work for it and you don’t portray yourself like the victim.”
City Council: Brian Tabatabai (Recommendation added 10/23)
Brian Tabatabai is a public school teacher and coach who is centering equity and justice in his campaign for West Covina city council. He supports reevaluating the city’s current spending priorities with regards to public safety and “investing in systems necessary to deal with residents who find themselves without shelter.”
School District Area 1: Caro Jauregui
In a response to questions from Knock’s editors we learned that Caro Jauregui supports reallocating school police funding for other purposes and increasing funding for special education, and supports a moratorium on new charters. She’s a strong progressive candidate for Whittier School District, and has earned our recommendation.
City Council (2 at-large seats): Sepi Shyne
(Recommendation changed on 10/4)
Sepi Shyne is running on a bold progressive platform, including renters’ rights, housing affordability, services for the homeless, police accountability, and greater representation for the LGBT+ BIPOC community in WeHo. Candidate John Erickson also advocates for renter’s rights and services for the unhoused. We initially recommended both candidates, but after learning more about Erickson’s contributions from real estate developers and publicly aired concerns about misogyny, we revised our recommendation to just highlight Shyne. Incumbents John Duran and John Heilman have been on the City Council a combined 55 years, and it is more than time for a change. Duran’s presence on the council is particularly troublesome, as he has faced repeated claims of sexual harassment, which led to his resignation from the rotating mayor position in 2019.
KNOCK.LA is a project paid for by Ground Game LA. This article was not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate.