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The KNOCK.LA Los Angeles Progressive Voter Guide For The March 2020 Primary

Here are Knock’s recommendations for almost everything on the ballot for the March 3rd Primary Election here in Los Angeles.

Here are Knock’s recommendations for (almost) everything on the ballot for the 2020 March 3rd Primary Election in Los Angeles.

Looking for the 2020 Los Angeles Voter Guide? Check out KNOCK.LA’s recommendations for the 2020 general election here.

These are listed in order of smallest area to largest (city, county, state, then federal) as this should match the layout on your ballot.

Los Angeles City Races:

City Council

You’ll notice below that we are recommending no incumbents in these races. Given the past few years of scandal and failure-ridden work from the Los Angeles City Council, this is not a coincidence. None of the candidates running for reelection have shown themselves to be leaders on the most crucial issues facing this city (housing, homelessness, the environment, and criminal justice reform). The council needs new, progressive blood, and our recommendations follow from that stance.

CD 4: Nithya Raman Raman is an MIT-trained urban planner who founded SELAH, a local homeless service organization, and served as executive director of anti-sexual-harassment group Times Up. Raman was one of the first candidates for office to sign on to the People’s Action Homes Guarantee, and her comprehensive environmental platform won her an endorsement from the Sunrise Movement. She has energized a grassroots volunteer base that is driving her campaign, and has re-envisioned how the Council Office can become radically more open and democratic.

CD 6: Bill Haller Bill Haller is the founding chair of the Lake Balboa Neighborhood Council and a former Sierra Club California air quality committee chair who supports climate justice, transit, and public funding for housing. The incumbent, Nury Martinez, began her new role as City Council President this year by criticizing the city’s homeless sweeps for not being aggressive enough in dumping homeless people’s last possessions into the trash.

CD 10: Aura Vasquez CD10 has two strong progressive voices in the race — environmental activist Aura Vasquez and Channing Martinez of the Bus Rider’s Union, both of whom have adopted excellent platforms. It also has two candidates whose records on homelessness must be rejected. Grace Yoo demonstrated enormous callousness when she led racially-exclusionary protests against the construction of homeless shelters in Koreatown. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’s legacy has been marred by allegations of corruption and by his vote to appeal Martin v. Boise, a cruel gesture of support for the criminalization of homelessness and poverty. We believe that of the two progressives, Vasquez is better positioned to make the runoff and keep the election from being dragged to the right.

CD 12: Dr. Loraine Lundquist We endorsed Dr. Lundquist in last year’s special election, citing her commitment to closing the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility, transitioning LA to 100% renewable energy, and her commitment to creating affordable housing and ending homelessness in LA. When she won the primary last year it sent a clear message that progressives could compete for elected office throughout LA, even in the historically deeply conservative District 12. This year’s primary is a rematch of last year’s general election, as only she and John Lee will appear on the ballot, so it’s very important that you vote for Dr. Lundquist now. You won’t get another chance to vote for a District 12 Councilmember until 2024.

CD 14: Cyndi Otteson Cyndi Otteson is a grassroots leader running to fill the seat vacated by José Huizar. Ottenson was able to secure an impressive UTLA (United Teachers Los Angeles) endorsement in this race, perhaps because one of her opponents, Mónica García, is completely bought and paid for by the charter school industry. We need a candidate who firmly believes in public sector, grassroots solutions, which sums up most of Otteson’s platform. Otteson’s work supporting refugees rounds out the many areas in which she is deeply aligned with our progressive vision for LA.

CD 2 and 8: No Recommendation on Ballot In CD 2 Paul Krekorian has failed to meaningfully lead on progressive measures. There is no one challenging him who would improve the situation; this is disappointing to us so we’re not going to weigh in. In CD 8 there is no one on the ballot but Marqueece Harris-Dawson. Harris-Dawson has been better than many of his peers on the council, but in too many ways still represents a broken status quo. Ingrid Rivera-Guzman presents a strong qualified progressive write-in alternative, but her failure to make the ballot makes her campaign even more of an uphill battle. Follow your heart in this race.

Los Angeles Unified School Board:

These are the candidates endorsed by Los Angeles’s teachers. When it comes to LAUSD elections, we follow the teacher union’s lead, and we support their candidates.

Board Seat 1: George McKenna

Board Seat 3: Scott Schmerlson (read Carl Petersen’s endorsement of Schmerlson)

Board Seat 5: Jackie Goldberg

Board Seat 7: Patricia Castellanos (read Carl Petersen’s endorsement of Castellanos and his anti-endorsement of candidate Bradford)

Other LA County Municipal Races:

Glendale City Council:

Dan Brotman Dan has proven himself to be a fierce advocate for a sustainable Glendale; fighting against fossil fuel infrastructure, advocating for affordable housing, and building a city that works for everyone.

Los Angeles County Races:


Measure R: Support Measure R is the result of nearly a decade of relentless community organizing, led predominantly by system-impacted women of color. It is a tempered and reasonable step in the right direction towards jail reform in LA County, and it will provide crucial tools for civilian oversight of our corrupt and deadly Sheriff’s department.

District Attorney:

Rachel Rossi Either Rossi or George Gascon would be a substantial improvement over Jackie Lacey. As an experienced manager, Gascon might be better equipped to exert control over the massive office; given the scale of the fight and the very real possibility of backlash by reactionary forces, however, the success of a reform DA is going to depend on their ability to communicate their policies and develop community support for change. Rossi’s history as a public defender, familiarity with LA, and aggressive platform make her the more progressive choice.

Superior Court:

Voting for judges is strange and hard. We lean on the progressive lawyers we know, including the Los Angeles Public Defenders Union, to ensure that we’re supporting the right options.

Office 17: No Recommendation

Office 42: Linda Sun Sun is active in her community, and experienced as a prosecutor of corruption by professionals and businesses rather than crimes of poverty. She describes her judicial approach as embodying empathy and dignity.

Office 72: Myanna Dellinger Smart, critical, and with a judicial temperament honed through her years as a professor. Her election would represent a fresh approach for the bench.

Office 76: No Recommendation This race is between a prosecutor and a guy who changed his name to Judge. Just, yikes.

Emily Cole is currently a prosecutor for the County of Los Angeles. Cole has received the endorsements of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the LAPD union, Current LA County DA Jackie Lacey, and Former LA County DA Steve Cooley, and received campaign cash from the LAPD union. She has also received the endorsement of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, the LA County Federation of Labor, and several other democratic groups.

Judge Mike Cummins, who legally changed his first name to “Judge”, was formerly a Judge in Stanislaus County in central California, until he retired in 2006. The ABA has rated him as not-qualified, a rare distinction

Office 80: Klint James McKay Currently an administrative law judge, he impressed Public Defender Union representatives with his thoughtful and articulate answers to their questioning.

Office 97: No Recommendation We mistakenly mischaracterized Timothy Reuben’s record in the first version of this voter guide. We still can’t recommend anyone in this race, but we are updating our description so you have all the facts.

Sherry L. Powell is currently a prosecutor for the County of Los Angeles. Powell has received the endorsements of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, Current LA County DA Jackie Lacey, and Former LA County DA Steve Cooley, and received campaign cash from the LAPD union. She is also endorsed by the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, the Stonewall Democratic Club, and several other democratic groups. Powell identifies as LGBTQIA.

Timothy Reuben is a West Los Angeles attorney in private practice who litigates business and commercial disputes. This appears to be his first foray into politics, and he is not particularly well-known outside of the business law community. His primary critique of Powell is that she has only been an attorney for 13 years (Reubens has practiced for 39 years). Reubens has spent over $500,000 of his own money on this race.

Office 129: Kenneth Fuller Fuller, a District Attorney, has prosecuted environmental and sex crimes, but has also worked on the defense side as a military judge advocate.

Office 131: No Recommendation

Office 145: Troy Slaten Slaten has criminal defense and litigation experience, and is campaigning on his commitment to alternatives to incarceration. His opponent, Adan Montalban, is a DA with a history of misconduct.

Office 150: Tom Parsekian A civil litigation attorney who will bring a different perspective to the bench.

Office 162: David D. Diamond Experienced in a wide variety of litigation and fluent in procedure and evidence law as an adjunct professor of criminal law; has also served on the indigent criminal defense panel.

LA County Board of Supervisors

These are REALLY IMPORTANT POSITIONS! These seats each represent around two million LA County residents, and determine policy on critical issues like health care delivery, law enforcement, and land development.

Seat 2: Holly Mitchell Holly Mitchell has called for 20% affordable housing in every new development, and a compassionate, non-criminalization approach to the homelessness crisis. Most of the other candidates do not deserve your vote: Herb Wesson has spent the past 15 years on the City Council, the last 8 of those as City Council President; the current housing and homelessness crises occurred on his watch, and now he asks voters for a promotion? During her time as city councilwoman, Jan Perry represented corporate and developer interests at the expense of low-income residents. Jake Jeong is a reactionary who opposes homeless shelters. Finally, Jorge Nuno’s own campaign (which is progressive) is not robust enough to have a chance to get in the runoff in this competitive race.

Seat 4: Janice Hahn Janice Hahn may be an incumbent from a dynastic local political family, but she’s great on labor and solid on housing. There are no serious progressive challengers on the ballot. Vote for Hahn.

Seat 5: Darrell Park Darrell Park has laid out an ambitious Green New Deal for LA County, signed the Homes Guarantee, endorsed the Services Not Sweeps campaign to end the criminalization and ease the suffering of unhoused people, and called for a crackdown on the sheriff deputy gangs that perpetrate violence against LA communities. Current Supervisor Kathryn Barger is the only Republican on the 5-seat County Board of Supervisors. Park would represent a seismic shift away from conservatism in county politics if he were elected.

Los Angeles County Democratic Party Central Committee, District Reps

We get a lot of questions about these races. The main duty of these positions is to evaluate endorsements for the Democratic Party of Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, evaluating these candidates is beyond our capacity. We encourage you to write us if there are any slates we should know about, and we will link to them here in the future.

California State:


Proposition 13: Yes This is a $15B bond to invest in crumbling school infrastructure. The proposition would also increase the size of bonds that school districts can place on future ballots. The only major opposition to this is the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which is deliciously ironic given the number. Vote yes.

State Senate:

District 21: Kip Mueller Kip Mueller’s progressive platform focuses on homelessness, wage inequality, and the environment. We appreciate his willingness to call out Big Oil in the Antelope Valley swing district.

District 23: Abigail Medina We give Abigail Medina the edge over Kris Goodfellow due to her bold environmental platform. Either Democrat will face a tough race in November for this red-ish San Bernardino County District.

District 25: No Recommendation Anthony Portantino has been a constant roadblock to progressive legislation during his time in office. His voting record clearly prioritizes the wealthy homeowners of his district, often to the detriment of the rest of us.

District 27: Henry Stern Stern has been strong advocate for closing the Aliso Canyon gas facility, and has been more progressive than expected in this purple district.

District 33: No Recommendation Democrat Lena Gonzalez received more than $1 million in independent ad spending from oil companies, which propelled her to victory in a 2019 special election for this seat. She is running unopposed this year.

District 35: Steven Bradford Steven Bradford has been a leader on police reform and accountability, including passing AB391, a law reducing when police can use deadly force. He also passed legislation allowing college athletes to receive compensation.

State Assembly:

District 38: Dina Cervantes Strong record on the environment in a district defined by the Aliso Canyon disaster. Vote for her.

District 39: Luz Maria Rivas Has worked on the right side of issues related to immigration and housing. Deserves to keep her seat.

District 41: Chris Holden Holden’s only opponents are Republicans, so this is an easy choice to re-elect the incumbent.

District 43: Laura Friedman Friedman has a good progressive voting record, including supporting the end of Section 8 discrimination. Vote for her.

District 45: Jesse Gabriel A pleasantly surprising progressive voting record in his first term earns Gabriel our recommendation.

District 46: Adrin Nazarian A strong charter school opponent, Nazarian has a progressive record on many issues. Not perfect, but who is?

District 49: Edwin Chau Moderately progressive, and up against an anti-abortion monster type. Don’t vote for the monster, vote for Chau.

District 50: Richard Bloom Authored a lot of good bills, and is really good on housing; lacks progressive bonafides on too many issues, but has no strong opponents. So vote for him, we guess.

District 53: Godfrey Plata Genuinely progressive challenger to a milquetoast establishment Democrat with a truly disappointing record on housing policy. The incumbent, Miguel Santiago, has a long history of taking fossil fuel and cop union money while claiming to be progressive champion. He’s not. Vote for Godfrey.

District 54: Tracy B. Jones Good on Medicare for All, and the incumbent hasn’t been doing enough. Jones is a longshot, but he has a platform worthy of your vote.

District 58: Margaret Villa The incumbent, Cristina Garcia, received large contributions from real estate, landlord, and developer interests after being one of the few Democrats not to support the statewide rent cap and requiring just cause for eviction. She only has one opponent, Margaret Villa, a Green who supports rent control and Medicare for All.

District 59: Reggie Jones-Sawyer One of the few true progressives in the legislature, and he endorsed Bernie Sanders. An absolute no-brainer.

District 64: Fatima Iqbal-Zubair Fatima is a high school teacher in Watts running against Mike Gipson, a truly horrible incumbent who takes money from the likes of Chevron, Valero, Pfizer, Juul, and more. Fatima is campaigning to end environmental racism in her district, fight for affordable housing, fund public schools, and make college accessible to everyone.



Democratic Primary: Bernie Sanders Bernie Sanders is a candidate who truly represents our values, our policies, and our vision for a more just future. Most importantly he believes in a movement, and his candidacy will help progressives up and down the ticket, as well as the organizations that support them. There are other candidates in the Democratic field who made a compelling case on some issues, but none presented the comprehensive vision for change that Bernie Sanders has.

United States Congress:

We’re weighing in on most (but not all) of the races in Los Angeles County and a few others across California.

District 27: Judy Chu Judy Chu is an incumbent who has been good on immigration and there is no strong progressive challenger here, so she’s fine. Vote for her.

District 28: Maebe A. Girl Despite his work on the impeachment, which we respect, Adam Schiff has shown himself to be a hawk, defined by his defense industry donations. Maebe is the first elected drag queen in American history, supports Medicare For All, and has a broad progressive platform. We would like to see her in a run-off with Schiff.

District 29: Angelica Dueñas Running for Tony Cardenas’ seat, Dueñas supports Medicare For All and an anti-war platform. We therefore support voting for her.

District 30: CJ Berina Brad Sherman has had plenty of time to do anything on the progressive front from his congressional seat in Destrict 30. He has failed to do so. CJ Berina is running on supporting the Green New Deal and Medicare For All.

District 32: Grace Napolitano An acceptable incumbent with a decent voting record.

District 34: No Recommendation Incumbent Jimmy Gomez had a lackluster first term but improved somewhat after facing a challenge from the left from Green Party candidate Kenneth Mejia in 2018. We should push him to the left again. We initially recommended Frances Yasmeen Motiwalla, who is a Homes Guarantee candidate with a strong progressive platform. Unfortunately, she managed a remarkable own-goal by holding a fundraiser at Weird Wave, a coffee shop facing an ongoing boycott over gentrification and displacement, and then refused to back down after community backlash, which raises red flags as to her awareness of what is happening on the ground in the district that she’s running to represent.

District 37: Karen Bass Bass is the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus and focuses on criminal justice reform, foster care, and relations with Africa. Vote for her.

District 38: Michael Tolar The incumbent, Linda Sanchez, voted for every one of Trump’s National Defense Authorization Acts, including the most recent one that some Democrats oppose because it authorized selling bombs to Saudi Arabia for attacking Yemen. She also voted for Trump’s free trade deal with Mexico and Canada, doesn’t advocate for Medicare for All, and her husband has been indicted on federal corruption charges. Michael Tolar supports Medicare for All and rent control.

District 39: Gil Cisneros This Orange County Democrat exceeded expectations in his first term and will face tough race in fall against a GOP opponent. You should vote for Gil.

District 40: Rodolfo Cortes Barragan The incumbent, Lucille Roybal-Allard, not only voted for all of Trump’s National Defense Authorization Acts, she was one of only a handful of Democrats to vote against Obama’s Iran nuclear deal and one of only two Democrats to vote with Republicans to oppose giving Obama the power to lift sanctions on Iran as part of the negotiations. She also doesn’t advocate for Medicare for All. Of her opponents, Dr. Rodolfo Cortes Barragan won over 20% of the vote against her in 2018 and is running on a platform of Medicare for All, no to militarism, supporting the Green New Deal, immigration as a human right/abolish ICE, and a homes guarantee with funding for public housing as well.

District 43: Maxine Waters We applaud Maxine Waters for her early support of impeachment and agressive criticism of President Trump. Waters’ faces only Republican opposition and you should vote for her. However, as chair of the powerful Financial Services Committee, we wish Waters would think bigger in addressing the crises we face.

District 44: Nanette Diaz Barragán Since her election to this seat in 2016, Nanette Barragán has been a strong advocate on immigration and supports Medicare for All. Vote for her.

District 45: Katie Porter Porter has excelled at using accessible and creative methods to expose the predatory practices of the financial industry, drawing comparisons to her former professor, Elizabeth Warren. She also supports Medicare for All and other progressive positions while representing a swing district. She will face a tough race in the fall against a Republican and deserves your full support.

District 47: Peter Matthews Peter Matthews, an Indian-American professor at Cypress College, supports tuition-free college, cancelling student debt, Medicare for All, a green new deal, and believes housing is a human right. More generally, we believe Peter will act with the urgency necessary to tackle our current challanges, something that is lacking from Long Beach’s current representative.

District 50: Ammar Campa-Najjar Progressive Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar nearly won this dark-red district east of San Diego in 2018, while facing racist attacks from his Republican opponent (this Republican has since resigned and pled guilty to corruption charges). Ammar continues to advance a progressive platform and we support him.

District 53: Georgette Gómez We strongly support progressive Georgette Gomez in this crowded race in San Diego. Her leading opponent, Sara Jacobs, is a former Clinton staffer who has relied heavily on her family’s large bank account. Unless progressives unite around Georgette, voters will likely be left in November to pick between Jacobs and a Republican in this very-blue district.

District 8: Chris Bubser This San Bernadino/Mojave Desert District will likely see two Republicans finish in the top 2. Bubser, endorsed by labor and environmental groups, is the only chance to avoid this depressing result.

District 12: Shahid Buttar Shahid Buttar is running against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi opposes Medicare for All, Shahid supports it. Pelosi is actively blocking movement on implementing a Green New Deal, Shahid will fight like hell to build a sustainable future for us all. Pelosi is the embodiment of the big money politics that destroyed the progressive values of the party in the 1990s. She first won her seat in a fight against DSA Vice Chair Harry Britt — it would be truly wonderful to see Shahid, an active DSA member, unseat her.

District 16: Esmeralda Soria Esmeralda Soria, a Fresno City Councilmember and a daughter of Mexican immigrant farmworkers, would bring a strong progressive voice to Congress. Current congressman Jim Costa is one of the more conservative Democrats in Congress, voting with Trump to weaken environmental regulations, to defend ICE, and to support Saudia Arabia’s brutal war in Yemen.

District 23: Kim Manigone Kim Manigone is running against Kevin McCarthy. Kevin McCarthy is amongst the worst human beings on earth. If you live in District 23, please vote against him.

A note on elections:

If you made it this far you clearly care about politics and making a positive change to the status quo in Los Angeles. And if you care about politics you should know that voting is only one small piece of affecting change. Organizing matters.

This guide is informed by the organizing work of Ground Game LA and its partner organizations, and we ask that you find a way to do some work on the ground in your community between elections. You can follow Ground Game on Twitter, reach out to organizations like the Tenants Union, or find a campaign that connects with your politics directly.

The important thing is that elections are the result of the work that happens between elections; there are too many of the above races that lack a great candidate. You can help make sure that isn’t the case next cycle.