The Knock LA Los Angeles Progressive Voter Guide for the November 2022 Midterm Election
Get in, losers, we’re salvaging democracy.
TRANSLATED VOTER GUIDE:
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Knock LA has been reporting on the progressive movement in the city of Los Angeles since 2017. November’s election is the result of five years of struggle. For the first time in decades, council candidates are running on unabashedly progressive visions of change and hope.
It is within the power of Los Angeles politicians to build and preserve affordable housing, achieve universal healthcare, stop planet-destroying emissions, and reimagine public safety. The time is now.
The Knock LA Voter Guide is a labor of love for a better Los Angeles. Many thanks to everyone that devoted time to this massive collaborative effort.
This guide does not include recommendations for most small-city races in LA County. We hope to update the guide in the next couple weeks with more small cities, and welcome any tips on candidates who deserve mention. We also have voting cheat sheets for the cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
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.
LA 2022 November Midterm Election Races
Propositions and Ballot Measures
Los Angeles Unified School District
Los Angeles Community College District
Neighboring LA Cities and School Districts
United States Senate and House of Representatives
CITY OF LOS ANGELES
Mayor: NOT Rick Caruso
Longtime social justice organizer and Ground Game–endorsed candidate Gina Viola being out of the race leaves Congressmember Karen Bass and real estate mogul Rick Caruso to battle it out for the mayoral seat.
Rick Caruso, an anti-abortion billionaire and the architect of USC’s sexual assault cover-up, spent nearly $62 million 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 and generous donor to anti-abortion politicians and causes who re-registered as a Democrat just to run for mayor, he recently helped fund the effort to recall progressive DA George Gascón.
When 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.
With only a few months of campaigning and $40,000, Gina Viola was able to capture nearly 7% of the overall vote (roughly $1 per vote), and it is clear from races up and down the ballot that a large swath of Los Angeles wants to see meaningfully progressive changes in how the city approaches homelessness and policing.
We do not believe billionaires should exist, let alone rein in City Hall, and a Caruso win is clearly the worst-case scenario. But if Bass wants full-throated support from community organizations on the left rather than grudging acceptance, it would behoove her to demonstrate she is listening to the Angelenos they represent.
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 using city data to provide an unprecedented level of financial analysis, transparency, and resources to Angelenos. 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 LA 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.
City Attorney: Faisal Gill
The powerful office of Los Angeles city attorney 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.
But those wide-ranging responsibilities, if handled properly, mean that the city attorney’s office could become a progressive powerhouse with the right leadership — and that’s what Faisal Gill is planning for.
An experienced litigator, Gill has vowed to dramatically cut back on misdemeanor prosecution (including of sex workers and unhoused people arrested in sweeps) and to redirect 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 is endorsed by Ground Game LA.
As the campaign has progressed, Gill’s policy platform has become more detailed and sophisticated, and he has stoutly resisted pressure to back down on any of his progressive commitments, showing impressive political courage.
By contrast, Hydee Feldstein Soto has tried to craft an image as sensible and process-oriented, but her remarks on what she would do as city attorney are frequently misleading and often troublingly ignorant of legal matters. Equally disturbing is her long history of making political donations to right-wing and Republican candidates. Those include both utterly toxic national figures like Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback and repulsive local pro-police NIMBY politicians like Traci Park in this year’s race for LA City Council District 11.
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, with the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl (particularly on Measure W: The Safe, Clean Water Program), and with the Clean Power Alliance has been instrumental in carrying out Green New Deal actions for a just transition away from fossil fuels. 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.
Attorney Sam Yebri is so pro-cop, CD 15 councilmember and former LAPD officer Joe Buscaino endorsed him. He has also received support from landlords. Yebri proudly and enthusiastically supports the nightmare that is 41.18. He recently compared DSA to the KKK and Hamas. Yebri would undoubtedly support increasing police budgets.
Council District 11: Erin Darling
In this election, the Westside has a choice between two Venice lawyers — and that’s where the similarities end.
One is a born-and-raised Westsider; the other switched her voter registration from Mono County to Los Angeles right before filing to run. One returned from law school and immediately went to work preventing people from falling into homelessness; the other has made her career fighting, with frivolous and unsuccessful lawsuits, to keep people on the street. One successfully fought to protect farmworkers from heat stroke, earning Dolores Huerta’s endorsement; the other unsuccessfully represented companies attempting to misclassify workers and erode their rights.
The choice is obvious and the stakes are high: we strongly recommend a vote for Erin Darling.
Darling knows the Westside, served on his local neighborhood council, and has run a campaign that has prioritized meeting with people in different neighborhoods. He understands the scope and urgency of the homelessness crisis, and is particularly enthusiastic about working collaboratively across different levels of government to make immediate progress. For these reasons he has earned the endorsement of every Westside elected representative, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, and the LA Times.
Traci Park, on the other hand, is a puppet of cops and landlords who will say whatever she needs to to get elected. Take it from the LA Times: while she “comes across as an affable politician who says that shelter and housing for homeless people is essential and believes in adaptive reuse of buildings on the Westside for housing, she has fought against all of that in her district.”
Like the Trumper-headed police union whose support she touts, she sells a convenient fiction about homelessness response, the idea that simply sweeping unhoused people out of sight somehow magically solves the problem (as if the real problem is unsightly visible poverty, rather than the suffering and deprivation of fellow human beings). Tellingly, she applauds Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s bogus “work” at Venice Beach, where he showed up on a horse for photo ops. Either she knows his sheriffs housed no one and doesn’t care, or she doesn’t care enough to know the truth. Neither option is good, nor is the fact that she sees aligning herself with LA’s most dangerous fascist as good politics.
Park lacks the values and policy understanding to navigate this crucial moment, and the special interests that fund her expect a return on their investment. An eviction tsunami would wreak havoc on LA’s tenuous homelessness situation — but it’s good business for cops and landlords.
To combat Darling’s impressive array of Democratic endorsements and the correct perception that she is a Trojan horse Republican, Park prominently lists the endorsement of something called “Blue Revolution.” Go ahead and Google it. Your first hits will be for a fishery and a book, and eventually you’ll find something based in Somerville, MA. Not much further down the list are some of the most toxic names in Westside politics, people behind anonymous accounts that have, for example, publicly threatened Westside high schoolers who promote youth civic engagement and climate activism.
Westsiders, check in on your friends and neighbors, and make sure they don’t fall for it. Let them know Erin Darling is the right choice this November.
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.
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). He 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 endorsed by Dolores Huerta, two sitting progressive councilmembers, a former CD 13 councilmember, DSA, and a host of unions, including UTLA (the teachers’ union). He’s also endorsed by Ground Game LA.
Soto-Martinez’s campaign has inspired thousands of volunteers to join. He has 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.
That proved to be a winning formula in the primary. Soto-Martinez impressively trounced Mitch O’Farrell by an 11% margin, a historic bludgeoning for an incumbent that has been unmatched in recent memory. If elected, Soto-Martinez could serve as a core member of a growing progressive bloc on council that already includes Nithya Raman and Councilmember-elect Eunisses Hernandez.
And thank goodness, because it’s long past time for a change in this district. Although the renter-heavy CD 13 is one of the most progressive districts in the city (by presidential vote), the district has for almost a decade been misrepresented by Mitch O’Farrell, 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 according to the 2020 census, as low-income and nonwhite residents were pushed out. It’s all part of O’Farrell’s career as a diligent servant to his district’s major property owners, developers, and small cliques of well-organized homeowners — and of his callous disregard for the rest of his district and the city.
He won’t be missed.
Council District 15: No Recommendation
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. With “Joey Buckets” having opted to launch a now-failed bid for mayor, this seemed like an opportunity for district residents to elect a representative who better matches their values and priorities.
Sadly, Ground Game’s endorsed candidate, Bryant Odega, did not advance to the general election.
The current frontrunner, 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 Protective League, 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.
The other candidate — Danielle Sandoval — is also unacceptably flawed. Three former employees of a restaurant that Sandoval co-owned successfully proved in a state labor hearing that Sandoval had engaged in wage theft and failed to pay them for hours worked. Even worse, Sandoval has still not paid the money she owes, and her excuses have reeked of dishonesty rather than accountability. Wage theft is rampant in the restaurant industry, and it is usually immigrants, whether documented or otherwise, who are exploited. Such activity is utterly disqualifying in a candidate for public office.
LOS ANGELES COUNTY
Sheriff: Robert Luna
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, former State Attorney General Xavier Becerra launched a civil rights investigation into the LA County Sheriff’s Department. This investigation sought to determine whether LASD is engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing (such as 44,000 bike stops that targeted Latine cyclists).
Most recently, Villanueva launched blatantly political raids on the homes of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and Civilian Oversight Commission member Patti Giggans. These raids were payback for their willingness to demand actual accountability from him and the rotten department he leads.
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, under current law, the person elected sheriff must have law enforcement experience. Voting in the LA County sheriff election is thus all about harm reduction.
In the current race, that harm reduction comes in the person of Robert Luna, former chief of the Long Beach Police Department. Luna meets the bare minimum requirements for a viable alternative to Villanueva as sheriff — he has demonstrated that he is capable of interacting with other elected officials in a functional, constructive fashion; he sees the role of sheriff as existing to fulfill a public purpose beyond pursuit of personal grievances and political witch hunts; and he is not dedicated to using his platform to amplify the most disgusting right-wing conspiracy theories and extremist positions. It’s an embarrassingly low bar, but he clears it.
Supervisorial District 3: Lindsey Horvath
This seat on the powerful Board of Supervisors is opening up after Sheila Kuehl, one of the Board’s most reliably progressive votes, decided to retire. That leaves a pivotal hole on the board — if another conservative joins Kathryn Barger on the board, they will form a new block only one vote away from halting or even reversing recent progressive initiatives, including reimagining public safety.
That means it is imperative to elect Lindsey Horvath, currently a member of West Hollywood City Council. Horvath promises to be a strong voice for care and support rather than jail for the unhoused. Her commitments have earned her many local progressive endorsements, including from Eunisses Hernandez, La Defensa, LA Voice Action, and outgoing incumbent Kuehl. Horvath stood firmly against the recall of District Attorney George Gascón. She has also taken on the sheriff’s department in West Hollywood, delivering a key vote on the WeHo City Council to cut funding for four sheriff deputies. The city will instead use the money to hire unarmed community outreach workers, delivering a hard-won victory to the local community.
By contrast, electing State Senator Bob Hertzberg would throw all recent progress at the county level into reverse. Hertzberg has a long and ugly record in public service, which includes a leading role in the transparently racist and classist effort to have the San Fernando Valley secede from the city of Los Angeles two decades ago. He has also been accused of repeated unwanted physical contact, which resulted in a reprimand from a panel of the state Senate.
If there’s a destructive interest group out there, Hertzberg has pocketed their dollars and stuck up for their agenda. This includes cops, the bail industry, NIMBYs, and fossil fuels (repeatedly). He’s also currently trying to install his son in his old state Senate seat to make sure no shred of political power slips from his grasp.
In the most recent legislative session, Hertzberg once again demonstrated that he is an obstacle to progress — he refused to cast a pivotal vote on the VISION Act, which would have protected immigrants from ICE, and he withheld support on a key bill to restrict oil drilling until it became clear that it would pass without him, then casting a purely cosmetic “yes” vote.
Hertzberg must be beaten.
PROPOSITIONS AND BALLOT MEASURES
Proposition 1 – Reproductive Freedom
Knock LA Recommendation: YES
Proposition 1, AKA the Right to Reproductive Freedom Amendment, might be this year’s most straightforward ballot measure. Where many ballot measures are intentionally confusing and poorly worded, this one does what it says on the tin. The reproductive justice measure, if approved, would amend the California constitution to specifically enumerate the right to “reproductive freedom,” which specifically includes abortion and contraception. There are no Catch-22s or gotchas. It’s an especially timely ballot measure, given billionaire mayoral candidate Rick Caruso’s long-standing ties to anti-abortion groups.
California’s reproductive freedom ballot measure is one of four such measures under consideration this year in the US, including in Vermont, Kentucky, and Kansas, the latter of which famously supported constitutional protections like this one just a few months back. It’s supported by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, as well as Gavin Newsom. It could hypothetically be rendered null by an extremist Supreme Court or US Congress, but that’s no reason to not vote in favor of it. This ballot measure expands the rights of Californians and clearly states our values, so it deserves your support.
Intro to Prop 26 & Prop 27
Californians have two propositions related to expanding sports betting and online gambling. Currently, legal sports betting in California is limited to horse races, and non-sports gambling is limited to tribal casinos, the state lottery, and cardrooms. Prop 26 aims to expand in-person gambling, while Prop 27 aims to expand online gambling. If both props pass, they could go into effect together, but that would likely be decided by the courts. Here’s the breakdown on California’s sports gambling propositions:
Proposition 26 – Tribal In-Person Sports Betting
Knock LA Recommendation: YES
Proposition 26 would allow in-person commercial sports betting at racetracks and existing highly regulated Native American casinos for adults 21 and up. It would also allow the casinos to offer other ways to gamble, such as roulette and dice games. It includes an additional safeguard that would allow anyone to sue an entity they suspect is conducting illegal gambling activities.
The California Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that this measure would generate tens of millions of dollars annually in revenue for vital services and state priorities, such as education. Part of that money would be made available to the Revenue Sharing Trust Fund, which is made available to non-gaming tribes.
The important thing to note here is that Prop 26 would legalize in-person sports betting, which is much easier to regulate than online gambling in terms of preventing underage gambling and ensuring protections against problem gambling. It would also allow California tribes to continue to benefit from casinos as their primary economic engine, which is partly why it is strongly supported by a coalition of 42 member tribes at the California Nations Indian Gaming Association.
Proposition 27 – Corporate Online Sports Betting
Knock LA Recommendation: NO
Proposition 27 would allow online and mobile sports betting and is backed by major online sports books corporations, like DraftKings, BetMGM, and FanDuel, collectively contributing over $169 million to support the measure. If this online gambling measure passes, you will be able to wager on sports from any device anywhere in California. Though the measure would create a new state unit to regulate online sports wagering, the nature of online platforms make it much more difficult to prevent minors from gambling illegally and provide support for gaming addiction problems.
Prop 27 technically requires gaming companies to partner with a tribe in order to participate in online gambling. It also allows tribes to create their own platforms, with certain branding limits. And while it reduces the license fee from $100 million to $10 million for tribes, that remains a prohibitive cost for many tribes to create their own platforms. As such, groups like the California Nations Indian Gaming Association fear that under Prop 27 online gambling corporations would take near total control of the sports wagering market in California, disrupting tribal revenues.
Prop 27 has been heavily branded as an anti-homelessness measure. However, only 8.5% of the revenue generated by Prop 27 would be dedicated to “solving” homelessness, and the proposition does not include a specific plan on how that money should be used. Overall, corporate gambling operators would pay a paltry 10% tax rate on revenues, while for comparison the same sports betting operators pay a 51% tax rate in New York State.
Ninety percent of revenues, which could be hundreds of millions of dollars, would go to enrich out-of-state corporations. This begs the question, is this measure really meant to help end homelessness, or are these out-of-state corporations just using the state’s hottest issue to advertise a measure that will fill their pockets?
Proposition 28 – Arts & Music School Funding
Knock LA Recommendation: YES
Proposition 28 would require the state to spend an amount equal to at least 1% of the total revenues of Prop 98 (which allocates around 41% of General Fund revenues to K–14 education) on funding for arts and music programs at K–12 public schools. In plain English, this means that a portion of the state’s general fund would be earmarked for arts education every year.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that the initiative would cost roughly $800 million to $1 billion annually. To be clear, this money would be in addition to the current funding. Prop 28 would require the majority of the new funds be spent on hiring teachers and staff, with priority given to schools that serve “economically disadvantaged students.” Currently, only one in five public schools in California currently have a full-time teacher for arts or music.
Prop 28 would be a step toward closing that gap and making sure that all of California’s students have the same opportunities for success. With the state’s coffers flushed with a whopping $97 billion surplus, there’s no reason not to set aside a billion to give our kids a better future.
Proposition 29 – Dialysis Regulation
Knock LA Recommendation: YES
If you are scratching your head wondering why dialysis seems to be on the ballot election cycle, you’re not alone. This is the third such ballot measure in four years, and they’ve all seemed complicated. So, what’s the problem that this measure intends to solve?
Two companies, DaVita Dialysis and Fresenius, make up about 80% of the dialysis clinics in California and nationwide. They have a monopoly on a procedure that mimics the function of healthy kidneys for people with renal failure, and is medically necessary anywhere from several times a week to several times a day.
Because of this monopoly, they can charge exorbitant rates for people with private insurance (in some cases over $1,000 per treatment). To make matters worse, these for-profit companies with enormous power and little oversight are often accused of using shoddy practices to increase their profits at the expense of patient care. They’re also often accused of dangerous understaffing and using aggressive anti-union tactics against their healthcare worker employees.
Prop 29 prevents these companies from discriminating against patients who are supported by less-profitable Medicare insurance, implements minimum staffing requirements, and creates broad new disclosure requirements for what might be the biggest scam going in modern medicine. Voting yes would bring much-needed regulation to a vital procedure.
Proposition 30 – Income Tax to Fund Electric Vehicles
Knock LA Recommendation: NO
Proposition 30 would impose an additional annual 1.75% tax on individual income over $2 million, with 80% of the resulting revenue going toward funding zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) programs (like state-funded electric vehicle charging stations and funding for low-income households to buy ZEVs), and 20% toward wildfire prevention and response programs. The state estimates that Prop 30 would generate $3.5–$5 billion annually.
The proposition is largely intended to lower dangerous emissions by putting a higher percentage of ZEVs on the road, especially by subsidizing purchases for lower-income residents. However, Prop 30 would fund zero-emission subsidy programs that currently only offer up to $9,500 in subsidies. With average new electric vehicle prices at $66,000 and average used prices at $42,700, it seems unlikely that many lower-income residents could realistically buy these cars, even with the subsidy. And, of course, mining the cobalt currently required to produce commercial electric car batteries has devastating human costs, particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Additionally, Lyft has funded 95% of the “Yes on 30” campaign, to the tune of $43 million dollars. Currently, Lyft reimburses drivers for charging ZEVs out of its own pocket. Since the state will require Lyft to transition 90% of its fleet to ZEVs by 2030, the cost of that reimbursement will only go up. If this proposition passes, Lyft will pass that cost on to state-funded charging stations, allowing it to pay drivers less and make more money.
Prop 30 would dump more money into single-passenger electric vehicles, a problematic and somewhat counterproductive market. Not only would it profit Lyft themselves, it profits the Lyft model. Which, in addition to all its other problems, has provably driven up vehicle miles traveled, and thus emissions.
That said, some great progressive groups like Move LA support passing Prop 30. The funding for electric vehicle charging infrastructure could help lower emissions statewide, and more money for wildfire prevention and response is always a good thing for California. Costs of ZEVs will likely go down in the future, and the reality is that most people have to drive single-passenger cars to get around. It’s possible Prop 30 funding could help accelerate the transition to zero emissions from personal vehicles, as the California Air Health Resources Board has mandated 100% ZEV sales for new cars by 2035.
This is one of the most complicated propositions on the ballot in a while, and one we encourage voters to do their own research on. However, as written, Knock LA recommends voting “No.”
Proposition 31 – Ban on Flavored Tobacco
Knock LA Recommendation: YES
Cotton Candy. Mango. Menthol. These are some of the flavors that Big Tobacco is using to hook young people on their deadly product. Nearly 9 of 10 adults who smoke cigarettes daily first try smoking by age 18, and their first cigarette was likely flavored. According to the CDC, 80% of high school students and 75% of middle school students who smoked reported using a flavored tobacco product in the past 30 days. Over 130 cities and counties in California have already banned flavored tobacco products, including the city of LA this year.
California passed a statewide ban on flavored tobacco in 2020, but tobacco and vape companies gathered enough signatures to suspend the bill until voters weighed in. Since that time, tobacco and vape companies have cynically portrayed the ban as an attack on Black Californians, because 85% of African American smokers smoke menthol cigarettes, far higher than other groups. Yet this preference, cultivated by decades of targeted advertising by Big Tobacco, has led to a health disparity whereby African Americans are more likely to die of smoking-related diseases, despite smoking less than other racial and ethnic groups. Studies confirm that menthol cigarettes lead to increased smoking initiation among youth and young adults, greater addiction, and decreased success in quitting smoking.
Unfortunately, approving this ballot measure will not ban flavored disposable vaping devices, which have surged in popularity in the past three years. We hope the state legislature acts swiftly to ban these devices once voters approve Prop 31. The ballot measure also excludes flavored hookah and premium cigars.
City of LA – Measure ULA
Knock LA Recommendation: YES
The rent is too damn high and the number of unhoused people continues to grow out of control. Measure ULA, also known as United to House LA, is an important next step in helping solve the housing affordability and homelessness crisis. It would generate an estimated $875 million per year to fund renter programs and build permanently affordable housing to help end homelessness.
How? By taxing properties with an assessed value over $5 million during the sale at 4%, or 5% for properties over $10M. For context, a six-unit multi-family building in Hollywood typically costs under $4 million. We’re talking about a one-time sales tax for mega mansions — only about 3% of property sales would be affected. This is a tiny tax on the ultra rich to generate the funding we need to get out of this crisis.
ULA is endorsed by dozens of homelessness and housing advocacy groups, like LA CAN, ACCE, SAJE, LA Family Housing, Neighborhood Land Trust, LA Forward, KIWA, Ground Game LA, Noho Home Alliance, ACT-LA, Thai CDC, and Unite Here Local 11, just to name a few. This is due, in part, to ULA not just generating money but also including a specific plan for how to use the dollars and oversight protections, including a Citizens Oversight Committee.
Seventy percent of the money would be used to preserve existing affordable housing and create new affordable and supportive housing. The remaining 30% would go toward support for at-risk low-income renters to help them stay in their homes and achieve stability. This includes money for programs like the Right to Counsel, which would prevent thousands of tenants from falling into homelessness by providing a lawyer during eviction proceedings. If you believe that housing is a human right, then the choice is clear.
City of LA – City-Built Low-Income Housing – Measure LH
Knock LA Recommendation: YES
This vote is necessary because of a racist 1950 California Constitutional amendment passed to keep Black families out of white neighborhoods. Article 34 of the state Constitution requires cities and counties to get voter approval before building or acquiring low-income housing. Fortunately, voters will have the chance to repeal Article 34 in 2024.
Los Angeles has current authority for 3,500 public low-income units per council district, a number approved by voters in 2008. Yet today the city has hit the cap in one district and will soon hit the cap in three more. Proposition LH would allow up to 5,000 additional units of low-income rental housing per district, something our city badly needs. This ballot measure is essential in the short-term to continuing (and hopefully increasing) the city’s efforts to build and acquire affordable housing.
City of LA – Parks Tax – Measure SP
Knock LA Recommendation: NO
Measure SP would generate $6.8 billion for the city’s parks and recreational facilities through a real estate parcel tax set at 8.4 cents per square foot. While it seems like a good idea on the surface, there’s more going on. This measure, rushed through city council by Councilmember Joe Buscaino, appears to be a disguised attempt to tax the people of LA to fund the 2028 Olympics.
In 2021, Buscaino filed a motion for a similar tax that was explicitly meant to fund the Olympics. The text of this current initiative specifically references the “improvement” of multiple sites associated with the 2028 Olympic Games, including the LA Zoo and the Sepulveda Basin. Even more suspicious, the proposed funds raised, $6.8 billion, is the exact proposed budget for the “privately funded LA Olympics.” Even the city’s own Department of Recreation and Parks could only identify $4.6 billion worth of proposed park improvements and new developments. This is an Olympic slush fund.
Remember, with the Olympics, displacement is built in. The official lead argument for this proposition specifically spells out the need to remove unhoused people from the city’s parks. Given how “parks improvements” were weaponized at Echo Park Lake, we are very concerned.
LACCD – Facilities Bond – Measure LA
Knock LA Recommendation: NO
The Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles Community College District are seeking approval of a new bond to upgrade campus facilities. However, a similar $3.3 billion construction bond program approved by voters in 2016 has faced repeated accusations of corruption and fraud, including recent accusations related to a new theater at LA Valley College, which is four years behind schedule.
The Board of Trustees of LACCD needs to root out the fraud, waste, and corruption for good before asking voters for any more money.
County of LA – Sheriff Oversight – Measure A
Knock LA Recommendation: YES
LA Sheriff Alex Villanueva is a horrible elected official and overall terrible person, but he has at least done the public a service in making it obvious how critical it is for sheriffs in California to be reined in.
Much of the legal framework empowering sheriffs exists at the state level, and will have to be altered there, but the Board of Supervisors has taken one important step forward by placing an amendment to the County Charter on November’s ballot that would allow the board to impeach and remove a sitting sheriff, for cause, with a 4/5ths majority.
The charter amendment grew out of the efforts of the Check the Sheriff coalition, which has been a persistent voice for oversight and accountability for Villanueva and the LA County Sheriff’s Department at large, and which deserves credit for forcing the board’s hand in putting this charter amendment on the ballot.
As Knock LA and others have detailed exhaustively, the LASD has been a corrupt, bigoted, and murderous institution dating back to its very roots. Its fundamental rot will not be solved until it is dismantled down to its foundations.
In the meantime, though, this charter amendment will weaken the department politically and add some modicum of elected oversight to the gang-ridden department. It is well worth supporting.
LA County – Cannabis Tax – Measure C
Knock LA Recommendation: NO
This ballot measure would allow LA County to tax cannabis businesses in unincorporated areas of the County, like East Los Angeles. Marijuana businesses are currently prohibited in unincorporated LA County, with the county promising to roll out a permitting process for legal cannabis businesses sometime in 2023.
We see this as completely backwards. California has so far failed to prevent big corporations from taking over the legal weed business. LA County must do better. Voters should be able to evaluate whether the county permitting process will be a corporate give-away, or a true equity program, before approving secondary issues like tax rates.
The vague language of this proposition could also give the trigger-happy LA County Sheriff’s Department additional justification to “crack down” on illegal grow operations for the sake of photo ops. The county needs to achieve legalization through incentives, not failed criminalization policies.
JUDGE OF THE SUPERIOR COURT
Judge Seat 60: 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 is endorsed by Ground Game LA.
Her opponent, prosecutor Abby Baron, has been endorsed by the LA Times and several non-police unions, but she has also been endorsed by several cop associations. While Baron might not be the worst judge, it is time we elect more public defenders than prosecutors to be judges.
Judge Seat 67: 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 opponent is prosecutor Fernanda Maria Barreto. She describes herself as a career prosecutor. She is endorsed by Gil Cedillo and a few cop unions.
Judge Seat 70: Holly 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 union leadership positions with the Association of Flight Attendants Local 12, advocacy that led her to a legal career. Hancock is on the Defenders of Justice slate and endorsed by Ground Game LA.
Judge Seat 90: Melissa Lyons
This is a prosecutor-on-prosecutor contest. Melissa Lyons has sought out and earned the endorsement of Democratic Party clubs and labor. Her opponent, Leslie Gutierrez, is endorsed by 11 police unions, including the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs and the LA Police Protective League.
Judge Seat 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 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.
While the other candidate, Melissa Hammond, has experience as a public defender, she has worked in the district attorney’s office since 2008. She is endorsed by LA County Supervisor Hahn and several police unions.
Judge Seat 151: Patrick Hare
Patrick Hare, a deputy public defender with more than three decades of experience, is the clear progressive choice in his race against a career prosecutor.
LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
LAUSD District 2: Dr. Rocío Rivas
Dr. Rocío Rivas is LAUSD trustee Jackie Goldberg’s policy deputy. The United Teachers Los Angeles Union endorses Dr. Rivas. Several other progressive organizations — including a couple more unions, Sunrise Movement, and DSA — endorse her as well. Rivas calls for a Green New Deal for Public Schools, which would turn LAUSD schools into accessible areas of green space and convert them 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.
The second candidate, Maria Brenes, is the executive director of InnerCity Struggle — a nonprofit founded by her husband (the former chief of staff of incumbent Mónica García).
Back in December 2018, García attempted to grant InnerCity Struggle $125,000 for its community center and administrative headquarters, but ultimately withdrew the funding amidst criticism.
In the past, Brenes has organized to defund school police.
LAUSD 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.
LOS ANGELES 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. Eighty percent of LACCD students are from underserved populations. 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 and outright corruption.
Frustratingly, the at-large board seats and lack of primaries result in low-information elections that favor incumbents and Democratic Party insiders. Knock LA is thus choosing to recommend outsiders for these seats where possible.
Seat 2: Glenn Bailey
Steven Veres has been a trustee for LACCD since 2011 and also works for State Senator María Elana Durazo as a district director and special adviser. We think a decade is long enough.
Glenn Bailey has held leadership positions on the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, the Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates, and the Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils. He is not running an active campaign and won’t win this race, but voters should indicate their displeasure with the current board and vote Bailey.
Jason R. Aula is a Republican campaign consultant who advocates for right-wing politicians.
Seat 4: Christine T. LaMonica
Ernest H. Moreno has served on the LACCD Board since 2013, and prior to that worked for LACCD for 42 years in various administrator roles including president of East Los Angeles Community College. Moreno is a Republican. His length of tenure on this troubling board is not a positive sign that he has any interest in changing the status quo.
Sara Hernandez is a real estate attorney at the corporate law firm DLA Piper and formerly worked for disgraced former City Councilmember José Huizar. She ran for US Congress (CA-34) in 2017, finishing fourth, and has received endorsements from much of the Democratic Party establishment.
Christine T. LaMonica is a lecturer at Cal State Northridge, runs a yoga studio, and has staunchly progressive views. She is not running an active campaign and won’t win this race, but the other two candidates don’t deserve your vote.
Seat 6: No Recommendation
Current Board President Gabriel Buelna, a trustee since 2017, is also an adjunct professor at Cal State Northridge and formerly the executive director of Plaza Community Services. In 2019, Buelna opposed the appointment of Cal State professor Melina Abdullah to a vacant trustee position, calling her too confrontational, leaving the board with no Black representation.
His only opponent, Robert L. Payne, ran as a Republican in a 2018 special election for State Assembly District 39.
Seat 7: Kelsey Iino
This race is to fill the final two years of the term of Mike Fong, who voters elected to the state Assembly in February 2022. Kelsey Iino, who was appointed to the board in April 2022, is a student counselor at El Camino College and president of the El Camino College Federation of Teachers-AFT 1388. As a delegate to the Los Angeles Federation of Labor (LAFed), Iino impressed with her progressive views.
Nancy Pearlman, an environmental activist and LACCD trustee between 2001 and 2017, was a vocal yet ineffective critic of the district’s failings during her 16 years on the board. No information was available on the third candidate, Mark Dutton. Knock LA recommends Iino in order to bring a fresh perspective to this stale board.
NEIGHBORING LA CITIES AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS
The following recommendations were made in collaboration with DSA Long Beach.
Long Beach Mayor: No Recommendation
Suzie Price is an Orange County prosecutor whose politics align most closely with reactionary 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.
Rex Richardson plays his role for Democrats. He is part of the Black political class that sequesters voters along race and obscures their class distinction. Politicians like Richardson direct Black voters to the Democrats in exchange for corporate dollars.
In his time — since 2014 — as a member of the Long Beach City Council District 9, what has he done to deserve to be mayor? He acknowledges that economic and educational opportunities lead to safer communities, but still wants 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 in the past. Richardson’s campaign is funded in large part by local unions, including the firefighters’ union, while Price received $110,00 by the Police Officers’ Association.
Long Beach City Council District 3: Kailee Caruso
In this exceptionally tight race, voters will have a real choice between status quo and change. The 3rd District runoff race will have Kristina Duggan (22%) face off against Kailee Caruso (20%). Caruso finished with under 100 votes more than the third-place finisher back in June.
Caruso has worked in social services in Orange County and LA County for 10 years, directly interacting with marginalized folks and using resources to help those most in need. She believes that, to prevent crime, people need equitable access to healthcare, education, stable jobs, and housing security.
Caruso wants to implement rent control and limit the number of rental properties a single entity can own. She also plans to create infrastructure for public transportation throughout Long Beach. And while Long Beach City Council is technically nonpartisan, Caruso is a registered Democrat, while Duggan is not.
Kristina Duggan is a proud member of the prestigious upper-class Long Beach Rowing Association and a small business owner. She worked for reactionary Suzie Price as a field deputy during Prices’s first term as a councilmember.
Long Beach City Council District 5: No Recommendation
Megan Kerr and Ian Patton are bidding to represent the new East Long Beach district that includes parts of Bixby Knolls and the Virginia Country Club. Kerr is the choice of the pro-cop, pro-gentrification Long Beach Democratic establishment. She’s a school board member endorsed by Mayor Robert Garcia and Vice Mayor Rex Richardson.
In 2020, leaked emails and interviews mired Ian Patton in the middle of slimy political actors who conspired to essentially spy on now-Councilmember Cindy Allen during a contentious election. Apparently, the goal was to catch Allen engaging in fraud, and involved staking out her home and sending her fake food deliveries in order to photograph her. Patton’s alleged actions in 2020 were borderline criminal and definitely unethical.
Long Beach City Council District 9: Joni Ricks-Oddie
Long Beach’s District 9, AKA “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.
Dr. Joni Ricks-Oddie has the most comprehensive campaign platform and materials accessible to the general public in this race. 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.
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 campaign materials implies that she may not be a “real” candidate.
LBUSD District 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. She has earned DSA-LA’s recommendation.
Maria Isabel López is employed by the Catholic Church as principal of a private school, St. Mary of the Assumption in Whittier. While Flores clearly lays out her policy platform, López only includes a series of vague checkboxes. When candidates don’t make it clear what they stand for, we tend to get suspicious.
Antelope Valley Union High School District Board of Trustees, Area 4: Raquel Derfler
Raquel Derfler is drawing on her experiences as an activist with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights and Cancel the Contract AV, as well as the mother of a public school student, to run a campaign for school board that is focused, appropriately, on educating the public about how school dollars are being used and misused in the Antelope Valley.
She calls for pursuing educational justice by getting the sheriff’s department out of schools, taking on funding inequities, addressing all-too-explicit racism, and ensuring that education funds go to support students with disabilities and other vital needs.
Burbank City Council: Nikki Pérez, Tamala Takahashi, Carmenita Helligar
Five candidates are running for three available seats. The top three vote-getters will be elected to the city council. Fortunately for Burbank, three outstanding candidates are running.
Nikki Pérez is a social worker born and raised in Burbank who currently manages a pilot program to assist unhoused youth. She led the effort to establish a Burbank Green New Deal, and if elected would work with Burbank Water and Power to commit to being at 100% clean electricity by 2035. She is endorsed by Ground Game LA.
Tamala Takahashi is a therapist and longtime Burbank community advocate who has led efforts to get Burbank’s business community on board with progressive policies. A key voice in bringing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to Burbank, she recognizes that green transportation and affordable infill housing must be central components of environmental action. She wants to focus on protecting existing renters and build more affordable, family-focused housing.
Carmenita Helligar is a cyclist and transit user who demonstrates a desire to change the way we view public transportation. Her support for BRT in Burbank is the kind of bold leadership Burbank needs. Hellinger also has focused her campaign on bringing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies to Burbank and acknowledging the City’s ugly history as a sundown town. She is endorsed by Streets for All, among others.
District 2: No Recommendation
Councilmember Jim Dear has held elected office in Carson for most of the past 20 years, with a notable interruption in 2016 when voters recalled him from the city clerk position after accusations of racist, erratic, and bullying behavior toward staff.
Entrepreneur Ricardo Contreras wants to hold local oil refineries and chemical facilities accountable for their hazardous pollution. However, his flawed public safety platform, including wanting more “proactive” law enforcement, means we cannot recommend him. Former city commissioner Oscar Ramos is also in the race.
District 4: Frederick Docdocil
Incumbent Councilmember Arleen Rojas is an LAPD police officer and is focused on increasing development in the city.
Planning Commissioner Frederick Docdocil is running on an environmental justice platform. Disappointed by the city’s lack of action in the Dominguez Channel odor crisis last year, Docdocil wants stronger preventive policies to address the cIty’s many environmental challenges.
Measure R: Yes
Measure R would continue the current 2% Users Utility Tax (UUT), currently set to expire in July of next year. It would bring in around $8 million a year to the city. While some of that money would be spent on “maintaining public safety,” which is often code for cop money (gross), it would also go toward valid community expenses like protecting drinking water and cleaning soil affected by toxic runoff.
CENTINELA VALLEY UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT
Area 5: Estefany Alejandra Castañeda
Incumbent Estefany Alejandra Castañeda used her first term as a school board member coordinating with mutual aid groups to get food and resources to underserved members of her community. A former union organizer with an emphasis on transparency and community engagement, she’s who you want on a school board. Castañeda is also endorsed by DSA-LA.
Measure ED: No
If Measure ED is passed, Compton would sync up its local elections with statewide elections. Basically, all the elections would be held in even years. As we’ve seen in the city of LA, this sync tends to increase voter turnout dramatically, which is a net good. It’s also far less expensive for the city to run elections in concert with the rest of the state.
So, why are we against it? Currently, the Compton City Council has three appointed members (i.e. not selected by the constituents they represent). Those seats are up for election in 2023. While Knock LA supports this measure in principle, Compton residents have the right to be represented by officials they actually elect. Alignment with state elections should happen, but not right now.
Measure AAA: Yes
Measure AAA would increase property taxes by an estimated $60 per $100,000 in property value in order to fund $350 million in bonds to rebuild and modernize three high schools. Funding schools is good! We should do more of it!
Compton Community College District
Area 1: Skyy D. Fisher
Area 4: Alfredo Bañuelos
Area 5: Leticia Vasquez-Wilson
Knock LA recommends voting for three challengers, each of whom is endorsed by the faculty union, to bring new leadership to this lackluster board.
Culver City Council: Freddy Puza and Alex Fisch
Freddy Puza is running for city council to advance “policies rooted in diversity, equity, and inclusion, rather than holding on to policies that only benefit a few.” He is a Southern California native and 11-year resident of Culver City who ran a strong campaign for a council seat in 2020. Puza would keep Culver City moving in the right direction.
Alex Fisch is seeking a second term on the council. In the past four years he helped the city move to end hazardous oil drilling, promoted a just transition for workers, advanced protections for renters and worked to increase housing to get people off the street. Reelecting Fisch helps continue the success of Culver City’s recent progressive turn.
Measure VY: Yes
Measure VY would allow Culver City residents aged 16 and up to vote in school board and city elections. At Knock LA we are big fans of allowing more people to vote, and this measure does that.
Measure BL: Yes
Culver City currently collects business license taxes at rates established back in 1965. Measure BL would modernize those rates, including an exemption for the first $200,000 in gross receipts a business receives. That means around 6,000 lower-income businesses would no longer have to pay an annual business license tax, while still generating around $10 million in revenue for the city. Measure BL would also increase the taxes levied on oil well operations by over 100%, which rules.
Culver City Unified School District: Triston Ezidore, Stephanie Loredo, and Brian Guerrero
Knock LA recommends progressive candidates Triston Ezidore, Stephanie Loredo, and Brian Guerrero for the five-person Culver City school board. All of the candidates are proponents of providing inclusive educational experiences for students, as well as valuing school workers.
City Council District 2: Anthony Felix
Anthony Felix is a Downey resident and former union shop steward who supports rent control, local campaign finance restrictions, and compassionate outreach and non-congregate housing for the unhoused.
His opponent Hector Sosa opposes rent control.
City Council District 4: Juan Martinez
Juan Martinez is a progressive challenger who supports rent control, humane treatment for the unhoused, and expansion of community services. He is an outspoken member of the Downey community, and has come out specifically against alleged corruption in Downey City Hall.
Current Councilmember Claudia M. Frometa opposes rent control and raising the minimum wage for healthcare workers.
City Council: John Pickhaver
Five candidates are running for two open seats on the El Segundo City Council. John Pickhaver is running on a platform of increasing affordable housing, ensuring police and fire transparency, and relieving the environmental and health impact of the Hyperion disaster.
The other four candidates are various flavors of NIMBYs, pro-police advocates, and real estate developer shills.
Mayor: Fredrisha “Sha” Dixon
Mayor James Butts Jr., who has held office since 2011, has faced numerous accusations of fraud and fiscal mismanagement. His developer-friendly policies, including massive new sports and entertainment venues, have fueled gentrification and displacement in Inglewood, with longtime residents being driven out by skyrocketing housing costs.
Fredrisha “Sha” Dixon is a lawyer and community organizer who has confronted the LAPD and former DA Jackie Lacey on police misconduct. She is currently an Executive Board member of National Lawyers Guild–LA and a 2022 Law for Black Lives legal fellow. In addition to rooting out the corruption and corporate influence at city hall, she supports increasing funding for mental health and social services, extending rent control, repealing the unpopular residential street parking fee, increasing accountability of the Inglewood PD, and enacting term limits.
Miya Walker, an administrator at Cerritos College, has a strong policy platform, focused on increased city transparency, more affordable housing, and shifting economic development away from the large sports complexes and back to small local businesses.
However, with no primary election, multiple strong challengers could result in Butts being reelected even if he falls short of receiving 50% of the vote.
Raina Carrillo is a gang interventionist and life coach whose website lacks any policy positions. Angelique Johnson and artist Chika Ogoke are also in the race.
District 1: Yolanda Davidson
Eighty-one-year-old Councilmember George Dotson is a key enabler of Mayor Butts and needs to go. However, with six challengers in the race, Dotson may also hang on to his seat with less than a majority of the votes.
The challenger with perhaps the best chance to topple Dotson is current West Basin Water Board director and former IUSD Board member Gloria Gray. Her record and platform are that of an establishment Democrat (AKA not great).
Of the remaining candidates, Yolanda Davidson is the most forthright in calling out the broken mess that is Inglewood City Hall. She promotes some progressive positions, like providing services for the city’s unhoused residents and reopening city council meetings to the public.
Leonard Redway is a real estate developer and plumbing contractor. Alena Cindy Giardina is a retired probation officer. Taj Powell is an electrician. No information was available about Kevin Taylor.
District 2: Bobby Brown
Incumbent Councilmember Alex Padilla (not the US Senator) is a close confidant of Mayor Butts and part of the corporate cronyism propelling inglewood’s gentrification. While challenger Bobby Brown is light on policy positions, electing someone who prioritizes civic duty before political and personal gain would be a huge improvement.
Inglewood Unified School District Trustee 1: Joyce Randall
The Inglewood Unified School District has been in state and county receivership for the past 10 years due to financial woes.
Joyce Randall, a lifelong Inglewood resident and a public school teacher for 31 years, has a platform of increasing community empowerment through regular town halls, working with the county administrator to reduce debts and achieve fiscal responsibility, and ensuring children have the resources to succeed. Randall is endorsed by Assemblymember Tina McKinnor.
Attorney Ronald Garcia is endorsed by Inglewood Mayor Butts and was a teacher through the Teach for America program before going to law school. Zyra McCloud is a former Board member and parent activist.
Measure HC: Yes
This measure will require private healthcare facilities to pay certain employees a $25 minimum wage. Paying healthcare workers more is a no-brainer, especially during a pandemic.
City Council: Ricardo Martinez
Ricardo Martinez believes that housing is a human right, advocates for healthcare for all, and calls for government and budget transparency and accountability. Martinez is also endorsed by DSA-LA.
His opponent, incumbent councilmember and La Puente Mayor Charlie Klinakis, brags about expanding the reach of the sheriff’s department and installing 100 new security cameras in the city.
City Council: Juan Muñoz-Guevara
Juan Muñoz-Guevara is a labor organizer running for one of three open seats on the Lynwood City Council. Overall, Muñoz-Guevara appears to have some solid pro-labor views. He’s also recommended by Mike Bonin, one of the few non-evil members of the LA City Council, so that definitely counts for something.
Montebello Unified School District
Board member: Aaron Reveles
Aaron Reveles ticks pretty much all of our boxes when it comes to school board candidates. He’s in favor of charter school accountability and transition to public schools, against police presence in schools, supportive of LGBTQ+ equity, a proponent of environmental justice in schools, and more.
There are three total spots available on the ballot this year, but none of the other candidates come close to Reveles in terms of policy.
City Council District 1: Thomas Wong
With years of experience in environmental justice issues, as well as public service, Thomas Wong has some very solid positions on how transportation intersects with the climate catastrophe. He seems to be in favor of multimodal transportation options, which rules.
His opponent, Jason Dhing, is a businessman who volunteers with the police department in his spare time.
City Council District 3: No Recommendation
Jose Sanchez supports expanding bike lanes, revitalizing parks, and increasing street safety for pedestrians, which is good. He also publicly advocates for supporting and funding the police, which is bad.
Tammy C. Wong doesn’t offer much in the way of publicly accessible policy, but espouses Christian values and has declared that addressing the crime in the district is a priority.
Sanchez is a Democrat and Wong is a Republican, so in a vacuum Sanchez is likely the less dangerous option. However, in a race like this, Knock LA cannot recommend a candidate who so staunchly supports funding the police.
City Council District 5: Vinh T Ngo
A proponent of pedestrian, bike, and vehicle safety, Vinh T Ngo is against expanding lanes for cars on Garvey Avenue as well as improving parks.
Also running are Joe Ray Avila, a handyman who’s been running for city council since 2011 and describes himself as “neither left nor right” (so, definitely right), and Delario Robinson, who appears to be running on a pro-business, pro-police platform.
City Council District 3: No Rec
Dave T. Gomez is an executive director for the union IBEW Local 11 with a platform of increasing job training and workforce housing, fixing the 14 highway, and working with the LASD. He is endorsed by labor unions, the LA County Democratic Party, and Republican Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
The current councilmember, Republican Laura Bettencourt, works for LASD and has endorsed her boss, Sheriff Alex Villanueva. Palmdale Planning Commissioner Marcos Alvarez is also in the race.
City Council District 4: No Rec
For this east Palmdale district, both Eric Ohlsen and Rev. V. Jesse Smith are running community-based campaigns and either would bring some improvement to the city council. However, both candidates are running on platforms of more law enforcement. The third candidate has dropped out.
City Council District 5: Andrea Alarcon
Andrea Alarcon is a voting-rights attorney who helped bring fair geographically based council districts to Palmdale. While Andrea’s rapid rise to president of the LA Board of Public Works Commissioners 10 years ago was premature, her commitment to social justice and equity makes her the best choice in this race. Alarcon’s father is former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon.
Erika Alverdi is a conservative endorsed by the anti-mask and anti-vaccine group Palmdale Freedom Coalition. Both Alverdi and a third candidate, Mario Melara, support more resources and officers for the LASD.
Measure PRM: Yes
Measure PRM would fund $120 million in bonds to fund schools through an estimated property tax levy of $30 per $100,000 in property value. Again, Knock LA maintains the controversial position that funding education is a good thing to do.
Pasadena Measure H: Yes
The Pasadena Fair and Equitable Housing Charter Amendment would expand existing tenant protections, such as relocation assistance, as well as establish rent control, broader eviction protections, a rental registry, and an independent rental board.
City Council District 2: Victor Preciado
Incumbent Victor Preciado, first elected in 2018, is an advocate for equitable transit, safe streets, and partnerships with community organizations. His opponent Jacki Elizalde is running on a conservative platform of opposing tax increases, funding the police, and scaring residents about crime.
City Council District 3: Nora Garcia
Councilmember Nora Garcia, first elected in 2018, is focused on preventing renter displacement, creating affordable housing, and cleaning up polluting businesses and truck routes in her district. She deserves reelection.
Rio Hondo Community College Board
Area 5: Vanessa Tyson
Incumbent Oscar Valladares’ campaign website appears to be a landing page for donations and nothing else, which makes sense given the deep-rooted establishment politics in Whittier: he doesn’t expect to lose.
Vanessa Tyson is running on a platform of increasing student access to resources, particularly mental health services, food, and housing. Valladares, in contrast, seems mostly focused on increasing graduation rates. Tyson deserves your support.
Santa Monica City Council: Jesse Zwick, Caroline Torosis, and Natalya Zernitskaya
Despite its reputation as a progressive bastion by the sea, Santa Monica’s local politics have taken a distinctly conservative turn in recent years, as a NIMBY/anti-homeless/pro-cop alliance has increasingly dominated the city council agenda.
Jesse Zwick, Caroline Torosis, and Natalya Zernitskaya are running on complementary platforms to reverse that trend. All have an emphasis on increased housing development at both the affordable and market-rate levels (Santa Monica’s housing supply hasn’t meaningfully increased in decades, and rents are skyrocketing). Plus, they have put forth a compassionate housing-first approach to homelessness and a public safety program that favors services and increased oversight rather than increased police budgets.
If all are elected, they could help form a progressive governing majority and start the work of addressing Santa Monica’s issues with intelligent, humane solutions.
LAist has candidate information and a good explainer for water district elections in LA County. You should check it out.
West Hollywood City Council: Chelsea Byers and Zekiah Wright
The West Hollywood City Council recently reallocated $1.5 million of city funds to replace four sheriff’s deputies with unarmed outreach workers. Predictably, local reactionaries want to roll back that defunding of police forces with a Trump-flavored fear-mongering campaign led by the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, Vice Mayor Lauren Meister, disgraced former mayor John Duran (driven from office by a sexual harassment scandal), and former councilmember and mayor John Heilman.
Voters can stop them by electing Chelsea Byers and Zekiah Wright. Both have been staunch allies of the sheriff divestment effort, with Byers playing a key role as a member of the city’s Human Services Commission. Both are also running to address the city’s endemic housing and homelessness crises with compassionate solutions that focus on services and building and providing more housing.
Unfortunately, the options aren’t as strong for the third contested seat. Robert Oliver supported the sheriff divestment as a member of the Public Safety Commission, but later renounced his vote. Former Boy Meets World star Ben Savage has chosen to cosplay as a law enforcement fanboy. Either might be preferable to the Stone Age politics of Meister and Heilman, but Byers and Wright are clearly the best options.
CALIFORNIA STATE LEGISLATURE
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.
As a result, Knock LA has chosen to only recommend candidates with either incredibly outstanding voting records, or those who are running in competitive districts where the alternative is a dangerous reactionary.
California State Senate
SD 20: Caroline Menjivar
Caroline Menjivar, a former social worker and EMT, is running on a platform of increasing access to mental-health and other supportive services, strengthening renter protections, and improving public transportation. She supports closing the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility, banning gas hookups in new residential construction, subsidies for clean appliances like heat pumps and induction stoves, and has pledged to take no money from the oil and gas industry. Menjivar also advocates for reducing air pollution and noise disruption by shutting down the Whiteman Airport in Pacoima.
Her opponent Daniel Hertzberg appears to have no qualifications for the position of state senator other than being the son of current State Senator Bob Hertzberg, who is now running for the LA Board of Supervisors. Daniel Hertzberg has received massive outside support from oil companies, landlords, and correctional officers. Oil companies and landlords even ran blatantly misleading ads saying “re-elect Daniel Hertzberg,” suggesting he has held office in the past (he hasn’t). His corporate donors also include insurance and real estate companies. Hertzberg has refused to share his position on prohibiting oil and gas facilities within a certain distance of homes, banning natural gas hookups, and shutting down Aliso canyon.
The Valley deserves far better. Vote for Menjivar.
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 2022 alone, she failed to vote for AB937 (which would have prohibited any transfers of individuals from state or local custody to ICE for deportation), SB260 (which would have compelled businesses that make over $1 billion a year to report their greenhouse gas emissions), and SB1137 (a landmark law that will require 3,200-foot setbacks for all new oil and gas facilities).
Her opponent, Vincent Tsai, holds radically conservative views.
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 leading legislative proponent of Senate Constitutional Amendment 2, a measure that seeks to repeal a state constitutional provision that forces all public housing construction projects to receive voter approval. Thanks to Allen’s efforts, voters will have the opportunity to repeal this racist provision in 2024. He’s been a reliable ally on environmental issues as well.
His opponent, Kristina Irwin, is a tough-on-crime Republican who opposes quarantining during pandemics.
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. While she’s voted positively on climate crisis issues in the past, she’s supported by some unions with ties to the fossil fuel industry. As a result, she’s made some bad decisions on important bills. For example, she publicly argued against AB 1395, the Climate Crisis Act. She also failed to vote for AB 2133, which would have sped up the state’s current target of 100% reliance on renewable energy by 2045.
Also running is pro-police MAGA Republican Claudia Agraz.
SD 28: Lola Smallwood-Cuevas
Lola Smallwood-Cuevas is an experienced labor leader and founder of the LA Black Worker Center. She’s running a pro-labor, pro–public housing, and pro–universal healthcare campaign, and she supports shutting down the Inglewood Oil Field.
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. These market-centered approaches will not solve the crises we are in; they merely further the commodification of housing.
Knock LA strongly recommends Lola Smallwood-Cuevas.
SD 30: No Recommendation
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 bills to allow police officer decertification and to prohibit state or local agencies from transferring prisoners to ICE.
Significantly, in March 2021, an anonymous former 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.
Archuleta’s Republican opponent, Mitch Clemmons, owns a plumbing company and, according to a questionnaire for Voter’s Edge, believes “crime is out of control” and promises to “restore law and order in our communities.” Do not vote for him.
In the primary, Archuleta achieved only 35% of the vote, remarkably low for an incumbent. However, neither of the two progressive challengers made it to the runoff in this safely Democratic district.
SD 34: No Recommendation
The incumbent, Senator Tom Umberg, is a Democrat in a safely Democratic district that runs southeast along the I-5 from South Whittier to Santa Ana. Republicans are not viable here. Umberg 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 also regularly refuses to vote for progressive legislation, such as AB937 (to prohibit transfer of individuals from state and local agencies to ICE custody for deportation), SB81 (to stop making prison sentences longer), AB1346 (to phase out fossil-fuel-powered landscaping equipment), and AB1395 (the Climate Crisis Act).
Umberg’s 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.
SD 36: Kim Carr
In this race for an open coastal Orange County district, current Republican Assemblymember Janet Nguyen is seeking to switch chambers. In the Assembly, she compiled an extremely conservative voting record, including opposing abortion protections and supporting Draconian law enforcement policies like criminal prosecution of children under 12. Her donors include Philip Morris, medical and insurance groups, and police unions.
Nguyen’s opponent, Kim Carr, is the former mayor of Huntington Beach and supports abortion rights. Her website lacks information on planned policies, and her publicly shared views appear to be centrist. While Carr is not the progressive champion this district needs, she would be a vast improvement over Nguyen in this swing district.
California State Assembly
AD 34: No Recommendation
This new High Desert district combines the more conservative parts of Lancaster, Palmdale, and Victorville and features two Republican incumbents squaring off against each other.
Republican Assemblymember Tom Lackey is an advocate for more traffic stops in the search for impaired drivers, despite the long-standing problem of Black and Latine residents in the Antelope Valley being racially profiled in traffic stops. An investigation by the US Department of Justice into the LA County Sheriff’s Antelope Valley station found “stops that appear motivated by racial bias,” unreasonable use of force, and discrimination against residents on the basis of race. Lackey has represented Palmdale and Lancaster in the Assembly since 2014. The other Republican incumbent, Thurston “Smitty” Smith, has been a vocal opponent of defunding the police and advocates for even more public resources to be devoted to law enforcement. Smith currently represents a Victorville-based District.
While it is unfortunate that voters in this district are saddled with two terrible choices, the good news is only one of these knuckleheads will be returning to Sacramento.
AD 39: Juan Carrillo
This new Latine-maority district covers the eastern portions of Lancaster/Palmdale and the western portions of Victorville/Hesperia. Democrat Juan Carrillo is a city planner by trade, a former Palmdale School Board member, and current Palmdale City Councilmember. Carrillo cast the lone dissenting vote when the council recently registered a vote of no confidence in LA County District Attorney George Gascón. He also 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.”
Shortly after recommending him in our June 2022 primary voter guide, Carrillo bizarrely contradicted himself by endorsing Sheriff Alex Villanueva for reelection. However, after the primary he reversed course, and has now officially endorsed Robert Luna.
We think this new district, and the state Legislature as a whole, would benefit from more representatives with the kind of experience Carrillo is bringing to the table.
AD 40: Pilar Schiavo
Pilar Schiavo is running on a platform of public education funding, mental healthcare support, and stronger eviction protections. Schiavo is a longtime advocate for Medicare for All, a policy she has been fighting for for over a decade as an organizer at the California Nurses Association. Schiavo is also running a clean campaign, refusing donations from the oil and gas, pharmaceutical, and insurance industries, as well as all corporations.
The Republican incumbent, Suzette Valladares, opposes Medicare for All, has a 0% rating from the Sierra Club, and is endorsed by the anti-abortion group California Pro-Life Council. Vote for Pilar.
AD 41: No Recommendation
Incumbent Chris Holden is still collecting very healthy campaign donations from PG&E, Chevron, Amazon, and various police unions despite running virtually unopposed. While Holden sucks, the website of his lone competitor (who won less than 4% of the primary vote), Michael McMahon, is pretty hard to find, and there is little to no chance that he will win.
AD 42: No Recommendation
Democrat Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, in office since 2014, has an unfortunate record of failing to support key criminal justice bills, which has earned her a paltry 55% grade from the ACLU. In 2021 alone, she failed to support SB731 to remove old convictions from records, AB503 to end indefinite probation for youth, and AB937 to end transfers of prisoners to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Her opponent, Republican Lori Mills, is a far worse choice, but Knock LA can’t recommend Irwin in this safe Democratic district until she does better.
AD 43: No Recommendation
Democrat incumbent Luz Rivas is quite safe rolling into her third term. Like most of her other unchallenged Democratic colleagues in the state Assembly, she continues to take contributions from massive corporations like Airbnb, AT&T, Facebook, Lyft, and Amazon. Still, it’s worth noting that many of her biggest contributors are unions. 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.
AD 44: Laura Friedman
Incumbent Democrat Laura Friedman is running against Republican Barry Jacobsen. We’ve taken issue with Friedman’s centrism before, but she has begun to improve her record and is undeniably a better choice than a Republican who is “tough on crime” and whose top priorities for education include “parental choice.” Don’t feel guilty for voting Friedman, but don’t stop calling her office, either.
AD 46: Jesse Gabriel
Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel stands out as a rare legislator who has followed through on feedback from constituents and advocates. In the 2020 election, Knock LA did not recommend Gabriel because he had not publicly committed to supporting the top priority of Black Lives Matter LA: enabling California — like 46 other states — to decertify cops for malfeasance. Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon did not bring the bill to a vote in 2020, stating that the bill lacked majority support in the Assembly.
Gabriel’s office reached out to Knock LA after the 2020 voter guide was published, explaining that he had intended to vote for it, and that he would do better next time. Not only did Gabriel vote for the bill in 2021, he voted for other progressive priorities as well, such as CalCare.
Gabriel’s opponent this year is Dana Caruso, a retired principal who wants to “bring school police back to our schools.” The choice is clear. Knock LA holds elected officials to high standards, so we thank those like Assemblymember Gabriel who follow through.
AD 48: No Recommendation
Incumbent Democrat Blanca Rubio ran unopposed in the primary. Republican write-in candidate Ryan Maye received 2.9% of the vote. Despite not having any serious competition, she continues to rake in campaign donations from bad actors looking to exploit Californians for a hefty profit.
The oil and gas industry, 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. Rubio also has a 38% failing score from the Sierra Club.
AD 49: No Recommendation
In February 2022, Democrat Mike Fong won a low-turnout special election against Republican Burton Brink to become the new assemblymember for this district. In the June 2022 primary rematch, Fong commanded 70.2% of the vote.
Fong and Brink now square off again to complete the trilogy nobody asked for. Fong has raised a million dollars in campaign contributions from police associations, oil and gas companies, charter schools, banks, and health insurance companies in order to ensure another landslide victory in the East San Gabriel Valley. Fong’s website also lacks any mention of the actual issues, sadly typical for corporate Democrats.
AD 51: Louis Abramson
Covering Santa Monica, West LA, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Hollywood Hills, Hollywood, and Hancock Park, the new AD 51 includes some of the wealthiest parts of Los Angeles.
Louis Abramson is a member of the Central Hollywood Neighborhood Council and works as an astrophysicist. Abramson is a renter, a rare distinction, as over 80% of elected officials at any level are homeowners, and more than a quarter of members of the California State Legislature are also landlords. Abramson supports single-payer healthcare, stronger renter protections, and state funding for public transit operations.
His opponent Rick Zbur has raised an eye-popping $1,393,236 in campaign donations so far. It’s ironic that he is running on a climate change platform, considering that his former employer and largest donor ($40,332) is Latham & Watkins LLP, a legal firm that protects corporations that actively exacerbate climate change. Zbur is also taking money from the charter schools, energy companies, insurance companies, and the California Association of Realtors.
Abramson has taken the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge and almost all of his contributions are from individuals, although we can’t help but note he has accepted $4,900 from employees of the military contractor Raytheon.
AD 52: Mia Livas Porter
Progressive organizer Mia Livas Porter is running on a transformative platform that includes guaranteed healthcare for all through a single-payer healthcare system. She aims to reimagine public safety by reinvesting police budgets toward schools, food programs, and mental-health first responders.
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 also stood with UTLA during the 2019 teachers’ strike. Porter has not taken any money from police associations, insurance companies, medical or pharmaceutical interests, charter schools, or energy companies.
Current Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, who has previously frustrated tenant advocates with her reluctance to take a public position in support of renters, has shown an increased willingness to back progressive legislation like Ellis Act reform and Medicare for All.
However, she continues to receive large corporate donations from health insurance, pharmaceutical, and energy companies. Other donations came from the apartment landlord lobby, the prison guard association, and charter school advocates. Carrillo’s misplaced priorities were laid bare when, despite official warnings not to travel out of state amid the November 2020 COVID-19 surge, she traveled to a conference in Hawaii attended and funded by lobbyists.
It is time for Los Angeles’ most progressive electoral district to have an actual progressive as a representative.
AD 53: No Recommendation
Assembly Democrat Freddie Rodriguez, a former EMT and Pomona City Councilmember, collects ugly amounts of corporate cash from energy, oil, health insurance, pharmaceutical, and telecom companies, along with car manufacturers, antitrust-avoiding tech giants, and police associations. Despite occupying a seat safe from Republicans, he fails to vote for almost anything progressive. He received a woeful 38% from Sierra Club on his environmental votes, and a failing 57% from the ACLU on criminal justice bills.
Republican Toni Holle is running for this seat for the third time, with this run looking just as hopeless as the last two. Her conservative views include opposing abortion rights, gun regulations, and vaccine requirements.
AD 54: No Recommendation
Incumbent Democrat Miguel Santiago is running virtually unopposed. In 2020, Santiago faced a credible challenge from organizer Godfrey Plata, which seems to have done some good in pushing Santiago to a more progressive voting record.
Still, Santiago continues to rake in campaign contributions from a laundry list of bad actors, including oil and gas companies, police associations, health insurance companies, and the real estate industry. So far he has amassed a $1.1 million war chest, thus ensuring he will prioritize the needs of the rich that keep him in power.
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.
In his first year as an assemblymember, Bryan has largely voted the right way on justice, environmental, and housing legislation. However, his willingness to take corporate campaign donations, including a large check from union-buster Amazon, concerns us.
Republican Keith Cascio managed to get just 14% of the vote in the primary and will struggle to do any better in November.
AD 56: No Recommendation
Democratic Assemblymember Lisa Calderon, whose family has a history of public corruption, was elected in 2020 after her stepson Ian Calderon retired from the same seat. Prior to being elected to the Assembly, Lisa Calderon worked for 25 years as a government affairs manager for a large energy company. In 2022 alone, Calderon failed to support AB2133, which would have sped up greenhouse gas emission reductions, and SB260, which would have required big corporations to accurately disclose their carbon emissions. She has also received large campaign donations from insurance companies, police associations, and (surprise, surprise) energy companies.
Her opponent, Whittier Councilmember Jessica Martinez, attended the pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” Janaury 6 rally in Washington, DC, and has a history or racist and Islamophobic tweets.
AD 61: Tina McKinnor
In a June special election, voters in this Inglewood-based district elected progressive Tina McKinnor to replace former Assemblymember Autumn Burke, who had shamelessly resigned mid-term in order to join a corporate lobbying firm. Tina McKinnor now faces a rematch with fellow Democrat Robert Pullen-Miles. The winner will hopefully demonstrate to Burke how to serve a full two-year term.
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 tenants’ rights and protections against eviction. Her top priorities also include 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, the mayor of Lawndale, offers similar policy positions on homelessness, environmental protection, and marriage equality. However, his vocal opposition to using a local hotel for homeless housing under Project Roomkey in April 2020 demonstrated that he lacks the leadership and courage to solve California’s pressing problems.
AD 62: No Recommendation
As Assembly Speaker, Anthony Rendon’s willingness to accept millions in corporate and police donations seeking to influence policy sets an ugly standard for the entire chamber. Corporate donors have also suspiciously funneled donations to several nonprofits that employ Rendon’s wife. Unless leaders like Rendon take a stand against such donations, their corrupting influence will continue to hamper efforts to build and preserve affordable housing, achieve universal healthcare, stop planet-destroying emissions, and reimagine public safety.
While Rendon claims to support many of these priorities, in the past year his lack of public support doomed two urgent bills: AB1400, to create a universal single-payer healthcare system, and AB854, to reform the Ellis Act, a state law that allows a landlord to evict tenants in rent-controlled units in certain circumstances. While the authors of these bills ultimately pulled them due to insufficient support, had Rendon thrown his clout behind them, their chances of becoming law would have drastically improved.
His opponent, Maria Estrada, also faced off against Rendon in 2018 and 2020. She advocates for Medicare for All, for racial and environmental justice, and against proliferation of corporate charter schools. We decline to recommend her due to her ugly past comments, a situation we addressed in our June voter guide.
AD 64: No Recommendation
Sadly, progressive candidate and Cudahy Mayor Elizabeth Alcantar did not advance to the general election.
The results of this open seat race will be disappointing at best and terrifying at worst. Downey City Councilmember Blanca Pacheco is backed by much of the Democratic Party establishment. She has milquetoast positions, like calling for “affordable care” but not universal single-payer healthcare. When asked to rate her progressive values on a scale of 1–10, with 1 being the most progressive, she said 4. It tracks. Her Republican opponent, who wants to increase prison sentences and opposes abortion rights and COVID vaccines, did not even answer the question. Do with that what you will.
AD 65: Fatima Iqbal-Zubair
Fatima Iqbal-Zubair, a Watts science teacher, immigrant, and mother to a son with special needs, is running a people-powered campaign that takes no money from corporations. She vocally decries the environmental racism that has caused the poor residents of her district — which has the highest concentration of oil refineries in the state — to have a lower life expectancy than the rest of Southern California. Iqbal-Zubair wants to hold police and sheriffs accountable, divest from policing, and reinvest in community care. She supports investments in public education, affordable housing, Medicare for All, and the Green New Deal. She’s endorsed by Ground Game LA and many other progressive organizations.
Her opponent, Assemblymember Mike Gipson, takes enormous amounts of campaign cash from the same oil and gas companies that shorten the lives of the residents of his district and regularly fails to support urgent climate bills. In 2022, he failed to support AB2133, which would have expedited reductions in greenhouse gas emission, and SB260, which would have required big corporations to accurately disclose their carbon emissions. In previous sessions, he voted against requiring the state to move to 100% renewable energy by 2045 and improving regulatory procedure to clean up dirty oil wells abandoned by oil and gas companies.
Beyond environmental laws, Gipson has sided with corporate interests over those of his district’s residents by withholding his vote on bills that would have protected his constituents from predatory lenders by capping interest rates and would have required employers to pay increased wages on Thanksgiving. This surely pleased Gipson’s top donors: McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, CVS, and Walgreens.
He is also a former police officer who receives significant campaign donations from law enforcement. As a result, he has supported only the weakest law enforcement reforms. Gipson has further launched anti-immigrant attacks against Fatima, dismissing her candidacy because “she’s not from this country.”
AD 66: No Recommendation
Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi has represented the South Bay cities since 2016. While he now declines to address public safety and law enforcement on his campaign website, the California Police Chiefs Association awarded him the Legislator of the Year award in 2017. He has a checkered voting history, including voting no on AB937, which would have ended the transfer of imprisoned people to ICE. The ACLU assigned him a nearly failing score of 65%. He also refuses to publicly support a single-payer universal healthcare system and receives campaign donations from law enforcement and tech companies.
His Republican challenger, George Barks, wants to increase law enforcement funding, and his platform contains homophobic and racist criticisms of the public education system. Do not vote for him.
AD 67: No Recommendation
This largely Orange County district is currently represented by Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva (although the district number has switched to 67 due to once-a-decade redrawing of districts).
Quirk-Silva has a troubling environmental record, including voting against banning single-use plastics, requiring oil and gas facilities to be a minimum distance away from homes and schools, and requiring 100% renewable electricity by 2045 (a now woefully unambitious goal). She receives a significant amount in donations from the oil and gas industry, landlords, and law enforcement.
Quirk-Silva is strongly favored to advance in this Democratic-leaning district. Her Republican opponent Soo Yoo holds extremely conservative views.
AD 69: No Recommendation
Voters must choose between two mediocre Democrats for this open district, which covers Long Beach and Carson.
Josh Lowenthal, whose father represents Long Beach in the US Congress, fails to mention the environment or healthcare on his website, an indication of his likelihood to become a shill for the oil and gas and health insurance industries. Lowenthal has the endorsement of the Democratic Party and numerous labor unions.
While Long Beach City Councilmember Al Austin at least mentions protecting the environment and expanding access to health insurance on his website, his record on the council is troubling, including votes against workplace protections for hotel housekeepers and against funding affordable housing and homeless initiatives through a real estate tax. Also troubling are his endorsements from the Long Beach Police Officers’ Association and the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs.
UNITED STATES SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
United States Senate
Senator: Alex Padilla
Governor Newsom appointed Alex Padilla as our new US Senator after Kamala Harris was elected vice president. Padilla co-sponsored the Green New Deal, says he supports Medicare for All, and was one of the few Senators to vote no on the massive increase to military spending last year. However, he takes campaign donations from health insurance companies, energy companies, and the real estate industry, and did not establish himself as a progressive during his time as a state senator.
Knock LA did not endorse Padilla in the primary, but now your choice is between an imperfect progressive and a candidate that talks about “the Hispanics” and mocks people for wearing masks. Not a difficult choice.
United States House of Representatives
CA-23: Derek Marshall
The newly redrawn 23rd district spans the high desert, from Victorville to Joshua Tree to Barstow. Republican incumbent Jay Obernolte has a dreadful record that includes supporting the end of constitutional abortion rights, voting to overturn the 2020 presidential results, and opposing student debt relief.
By contrast, Derek Marshall is an openly gay progressive Democrat, community organizer, and longtime LGBTQ+ rights activist who supports a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, LGBTQ+ rights, infrastructure spending, housing, free public education, and more. He’s endorsed by Ground Game LA. Tell your desert friends — vote for Derek!
CA-26: No Recommendation
Incumbent Democrat Julia Brownley has represented this Ventura County–based district since 2013. Despite representing a safe democratic district, Brownley has failed to support progressive priorities such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, while voting to increase military spending in 2021 and 2022. That said, her opponent, Republican Matt Jacobs, is focused on a failed tough-on-crime platform and has refused to take a public stance on abortion rights.
While Brownley is by no means among the worst Democrats in Congress, in California we should expect better, and thus Knock LA withholds its recommendation in this uncompetitive race.
CA-27: Christy Smith
Republican Congressmember Mike Garcia is a Trump-backed conservative who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election results. He is a co-sponser of the Life at Conception Act, which would ban abortion nationwide — even in California. He also opposes student debt relief and is supported by weapons manufacturers, fossil fuel interests, and one of the Koch brothers.
Democratic challenger Christy Smith has already lost to Mike Garcia twice, and Knock LA was not thrilled to see her run again, as she has historically opposed single-payer healthcare and police decertification. However, this specific race could determine whether Republicans gain control of the US House and move to ban abortion nationwide. North LA County voters should send a clear message that anti-choice politicians have no place in LA.
CA-28: Judy Chu
Democratic incumbent Judy Chu has represented the West San Gabriel Valley — including the communities of Altadena, Pasadena, South Pasadena, Alhambra, Monterey Park, and Arcadia — since 2013. Her district has been renumbered to 28 this year. She is a member of the progressive caucus that supports Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Her Republican opponent, Wesley Hallman, works for a defense contractor trade association that advocates for the disastrous military-industrial complex.
CA-29: Angelica Dueñas
After a strong showing in her 2020 grassroots campaign, organizer Angelica Dueñas is ready to push her corporate-funded opponent out of office. Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Dueñas is raising five children who attend LAUSD schools. 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, Congressmember 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. He does have a good record of supporting public housing residents in the district.
CA-30: Maebe A. Girl
Congressmember Adam Schiff has a long history of favoring increased incarceration and punishment for poor people of color. As a state senator, he pushed laws to prosecute more juveniles as adults and to lock up children for truancy. More recently, Schiff was one of the few House Democrats to vote with Republicans for the Thin Blue Line Act of 2017, to expand the list of crimes eligible for the death penalty, and the Protect and Serve Act of 2019, to establish a new criminal offense for assaulting a law enforcement officer.
Schiff also introduced an anti-terror bill in 2019, which was criticized for labeling property damage during protests as acts of terrorism. Moreover, when negotiating to reauthorize the PATRIOT ACT in 2020, Schiff sought to exclude Dreamers and undocumented immigrants from protections prohibiting warrantless data surveillance. And we haven’t even touched on his disastrous foreign policy views.
Fortunately, the residents of Mid-City, Hollywood, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Burbank, and Glendale have a stellar progressive candidate in Maebe A. Girl. A leader on the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, Maebe would be the first-ever trans member of Congress. She supports Medicare for All, debt-free college, the Green New Deal, full equality under the law for LGBTQ+ folks, and a compassionate, housing-and-services-first approach to homelessness. She’s endorsed by Ground Game LA.
CA-31: No Recommendation
Congressmember Grace Napolitano has represented this San Gabriel Valley district as a middle-of-the-road Democrat for 23 years. To her credit, she publicly supported District Attorney George Gascón against failed efforts to recall him. She is also a co-sponsor of a Medicare for All bill. However, she’s ultimately the type of do-nothing Democrat that leaves many disenchanted with the political system. SGV deserves better in this safe Democratic district.
Her opponent identifies as a libertarian and opposes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
CA-32: No Recommendation
Congressmember Brad Sherman has been in Congress for 25 years, but has done next to nothing to advance a progressive agenda. He will win this seat, but his record is insufficient to warrant a recommendation. He has received campaign donations from private equity firms, insurance companies, and other investment groups. His opponent, Republican Lucie Volotzky, is not a credible threat and certainly does not deserve your vote.
First-time progressive candidate Shervin Aazami did not make the runoff, but we hope to hear more from him in the future.
CA-34: David Kim
The 34th district is the poorest congressional district in California, with a 29% poverty rate, yet Representative Jimmy Gomez has failed to take the stances necessary to alleviate this poverty. His campaign donors point to his misplaced priorities, as he has received significant amounts of campaign cash from Blue Cross, Pfizer, energy companies, and financial institutions.
Progressive challenger David Kim seeks to finish what he began in 2020, when he came up just short of knocking off the incumbent congressmember. Kim offers a bold and detailed perspective on what Congress needs to do, including building 12 million new social/publicly funded housing units over the next 10 years, passing a national tenant bill of rights, increasing federal spending on local public education, and forgiving all student debt. David Kim is endorsed by Ground Game LA.
CA-35: No Recommendation
Representative Norma Torres, the only member of Congress born in Central America, has represented Pomona and parts of San Bernardino County since 2015. Although she represents a safe Democratic district, she does not support Medicare for All or the Green New Deal. Furthermore, she voted for a $60 billion increase in military spending in 2022, $37 billion more than even what President Biden requested.
Her opponent Mike Cargile opposes all gun control, supports a nationwide abortion ban, and espoused baseless claims of voting fraud in the 2020 election. Don’t vote for him.
CA-36: No Recommendation
Congressmember Ted Lieu, who has represented the Westside and South Bay since 2015, voted for massive increases in military spending in both 2021 and 2022. Over 100 of Lieu’s House Democratic colleagues opposed these increases, which were billions more than even what President Biden requested in 2022. Lieu has also received thousands in campaign donations from military contractors, including Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Technology and Parsons. Ground Game LA does not endorse Lieu.
His Republican opponent, who thinks tax cuts are an answer to end homelessness, previously referred to Representative Maxine Waters’ participation in the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis as “an insurrection.” He is far worse than Lieu.
CA-37: No Recommendation
We’re not recommending State Senator Sydney Kamlager, nor does she need us to. This would be the third public office she’s held in less than five years, which is no small feat, and she has the backing of most of the Democratic Party establishment. Her record is a mixed bag — she voted to delay the closing of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, but she also prioritizes affordable housing production and has been movable on justice reforms. However, this is a small sample. Assuming there isn’t another career move on the horizon, we’ll soon find out if she is really a progressive lawmaker; we can only hope to be pleasantly surprised.
CA-38: No Recommendation
Congressmember Linda Sánchez has represented Southeast Los Angeles County in Congress for 20 years. Unfortunately, she voted for large increases in military spending over the past two years (see Districts 35 and 36). Despite supporting the labor movement, Sánchez takes campaign donations from union busters like Home Depot and FedEx, in addition to accepting large contributions from the health insurance, financial, and real estate industries. Voters deserve better in this safe blue district.
Her opponent, the mayor of the city of Walnut, opposes abortion rights and supports tough-on-crime policing and increasing border security. Do not vote for him.
CA-42: No Recommendation
This Long Beach–based district will have a new representative next year, as Rep. Alan Lowenthal is retiring. Current Long Beach mayor, Robert Garcia, came first in the June primary and is sure to win in November. Unfortunately, he has harshly opposed rent control for the second largest city in LA County, despite vigorous calls from desperate renters. The Long Beach Police Officers’ Association has also donated over half a million dollars to various political committees led by Garcia since 2015. This is not the type of Democrat we need.
Garcia’s opponent is a right-wing extremist who believes the 2020 presidential election results were invalid. He advocates for jailing all unhoused individuals who are not sober. Do not vote for him.
CA-43: No Recommendation
Maxine Waters has been a reliable liberal firebrand for her 30 year congressional career. She has repeatedly called for a federal civil rights investigation into the violent LASD deputy gangs. On the other hand, Waters has also faced allegations of corruption throughout her years in office. Knock LA thinks that residents in this district would be better served with a new progressive voice.
However, that new voice is not on the ballot this year. Waters’ opponent is a QAnon supporter and radical Trumpist. Do not vote for him.
CA-44: Nanette Barragán
Congressmember Nanette Barragán is a co-sponsor of the Medicare for All bill and a strong proponent of citizenship for undocumented immigrants. She led the opposition to the oil company bailout included in the 2020 COVID-relief CARES Act. She also refuses to take any oil or gas campaign donations. Her opponent, Paul Jones, seeks to use military personnel to secure the US border and opposes solar and wind energy.
CA-45: Jay Chen
Republican Congressmember Michelle Steel is a co-sponsor of the “Life at Conception Act,” which aims to ban abortions nationwide — even in California. Her opponent Democrat Jay Chen believes in protecting abortion rights. This race is that simple.
CALIFORNIA STATEWIDE OFFICES
Governor: No Recommendation
Gavin Newsom is a well-oiled politician’s politician in every sense of the word. He’s made a great show of being a champion of the people over his meticulously crafted career as a Democratic establishment figurehead. However, his record on key issues, including those he has campaigned on, have left a lot to be desired.
Despite running on a single-payer platform in 2018, Newsom withheld public support for single-payer healthcare bill AB1400. Newsom also championed the harmful “CARE Court” plan to create a new court system that subjects unhoused people with mental health disabilities to involuntary treatment. He vetoed a state bill to allow safe injection sites in LA, despite mounting proof that these sites help save lives lost to the overdose crisis.
His record on supporting immigrants and migrant workers is shoddy. He failed immigrants by refusing to publicly support AB937, which would have blocked state prisons and jails from transferring noncitizens to federal immigration custody (ICE) after the completion of their sentences.
Newsom’s positions on worker protections, the climate catastrophe, and prisoner rights are all similarly checkered. Newsom easily fought off a recall campaign last year and will likely win a landslide reelection against his conservative Republican opponent.
Lieutenant Governor: No Recommendation
This position has few formal duties, other than being second-in-line to the governorship. Incumbent Eleni Kounalakis has done little to distinguish herself. Kounalakis previously worked for two decades at a real estate development firm founded by her father, then was appointed ambassador to Hungary in 2010 after her family donated six figures to President Obama’s reelection campaign. Her website’s issues page remains embarrassingly light for a statewide officeholder.
Her Republican opponent, who wants to lower taxes and get “tough on criminals,” is not the answer either.
Attorney General: Rob Bonta
Governor Newsom appointed Rob Bonta, a former assemblymember from the East Bay, to be attorney general in 2021. Bonta has impressed so far. He sued Amazon for stifling competition and driving up prices, sued Walmart for environmental violations, sued the US Postal Service for its short-sighted plan to buy over 100,000 new gas-powered mail trucks, and joined several environmental justice lawsuits seeking to protect vulnerable low-income communities.
Bonta faces frequent Fox News guest Nathan Hochman. Hochman’s vision for solving homlelessness and crime is exactly what you would expect from a Republican: more law enforcement. Enough elected Democrats in California have tried this approach that we don’t want to see what it looks like in the hands of a Republican.
Secretary of State: Shirley Weber
Dr. Shirley Weber, who fled the Jim Crow South as a young child, is the first Black person ever to hold this important office, which oversees California’s elections. Appointed in 2021, Weber was a professor for 40 years at San Diego State University before becoming a state assemblymember in 2012.
Weber impressed during the 2021 governor recall election, where she attempted to require candidates to disclose their tax returns and stood up to Newsom in a dispute over ballot designations. In the Assembly, Weber successfully pushed several bills addressing racial injustice and police misconduct, although she did troublingly support charter schools and opposed teachers’ unions.
However, her opponent Robert Bernosky, a corporate consultant and longtime Republican operative, advocates for voter suppression tactics like “cleaning California’s voter rolls” and eliminating automatic Motor Voter DMV registration, while opposing publicly financed clean elections. There is no question here who is best for the job.
Treasurer: No Recommendation
The state treasurer’s duties include safeguarding public funds from fraud, issuing and managing the state’s public debt, and serving on the state pension boards CalPERS and CalSTERS. Current Treasurer Fiona Ma has advocated for increasing diversity on corporate boards, financing and constructing a high-speed rail to Las Vegas, and divesting from fossil fuels.
However, Ma has been accused of sexually harassing a former staffer, and nearly threw away $476 million on a fraudulent N95 mask deal. She has also received large campaign donations from police associations, the real estate industry, and financial institutions.
Her conservative opponent, Jack Guerrero, a business consultant and Cudahy City Councilmember, is an outspoken abortion opponent and Trump supporter who uses dangerous immigrant-bashing language like “place citizens FIRST.”
State Controller: Malia Cohen
The state controller acts as the state’s accountant, audits public funds spent by state agencies, and has the discretion to audit how local governments spend state funds.
Malia Cohen, a former member and president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, has a long record of progressive achievements. She pushed the city’s retirement fund to fully divest from fossil fuels, led the effort to create a city public bank, helped make the city’s community colleges free for residents and workers of the city, and advocated for the creation of an independent department to investigate police shootings.
As state controller, she wants to ensure that the state’s tax dollars and financial decisions benefit previously neglected communities. Cohen also intends to audit big companies receiving research and development tax credits and will make sure big corporations like Amazon pay their fair share in taxes.
Her Republican opponent Lanhee Chen is an operating partner at a private equity firm and a fellow at a conservative think tank that promotes pro-business and small-government policies. His policy positions predictably include a skepticism toward government spending to help disadvantaged communities and opposition to increased taxes on the wealthy.
Insurance Commissioner: No Recommendation
Current Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara accepted tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from the insurance industry executives he regulates, violating a 2018 campaign pledge. He also intervened at least four times in favor of a donor during an administrative proceeding. Lara does not deserve your vote.
His opponent, who touts himself as a “Reagan Republican,” cannot be recommended either.
Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI): Tony Thurmond
The superintendent of public instruction oversees the California Department of Education and has informal influence over pending state laws regarding education. In 2018, Tony Thurmond, backed by public school teachers and their union, defeated a charter-school-backed opponent in a race that drew headlines for its negativity and $40 million in combined spending. Following Thurmond’s victory in that bellwether race, the state passed legislation to increase charter school accountability.
This year, Thurmond’s reelection campaign is a quieter affair. While he has disappointed in several ways, he maintains the backing of public school teachers and is the better choice in this race.
His opponent is an executive for a conservative think tank based in Orange County, which advocates for corporate charter schools and produces anti-union materials.
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. Vazquez has been refreshingly scandal free — in contrast to the BOE’s past — and Knock LA recommends voting for him.
His opponent, Marie Manvel, is running on a dangerous anti-tax platform, which would drastically reduce local and state governments’ ability to offer services and support for low-income and disadvantaged communities. While the BOE does not have such broad powers, she could still undermine tax collection if elected.
State Judicial Races
Chief Justice of California, Associate Justices of CA Supreme Court, Presiding & Associate Justices of the Court of Appeal
LA County voters have the opportunity to vote yes or no on whether to retain four California Supreme Court Justices (Patricia Guerrero, Goodwin Liu, Martin J. Jenkins, and Joshua P. Groban). Voters also can vote yes or no on 12 justices of the Court of Appeals, Second District, which is an intermediate appeals court below the California Supreme Court.
Knock LA does not currently have recommendations for these races. You can view the LA Times endorsements here. However, no state appeals justice has lost a retention vote since 1986, and all 16 justices on the ballot this year will likely win retention by wide margins. Do not waste any time researching these races. Leave these races blank and turn in your ballot.
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