In the 54th Assembly District race, 26-year-old Sebastian Ridley-Thomas handily defeated his rivals to win the right to represent voters in the state government.
According to unofficial results, Ridley-Thomas collected 60.02 percent of the 30,189 votes cast while Culver City politician Christopher Armenta finished second with 35.99 percent of ballots casts.
Neighborhood Council president John Jake garnered 3.99 percent of votes.
Ridley-Thomas joins only a hand full of legislators elected to office since the state Assembly became a full-time job (in 1966). The others include Jim Costa and Tom McClintock currently members of the U.S. Congress; and John Lewis, who was elected first to the assembly and then the state senate and is now a public affairs consultant.
All three men were also elected at age 26.
At a standing-room only celebration of his victory Tuesday night in the Crenshaw District before campaign endorsers, supporters, and volunteers, Ridley-Thomas said, “I could not have won this election without you. Your overwhelming support throughout our campaign has been humbling. Because of your support, hard work and contributions, the voters heard my positive message and responded with their votes.
“This wasn’t simply my campaign. This was our campaign. We were all in this effort together. Our campaign was about having a new vision. Our campaign was about electing a new generation of leadership. Our campaign was about making a new commitment to the people of the 54th Assembly District,” he said.
“The people of the 54th Assembly District have spoken with their ballots. They want jobs. They want quality education for their children. They want access to affordable healthcare. They elected me to deliver results on those important issues. Tonight, I tell the people of the 54th Assembly District … I will deliver,” Ridley-Thomas promised.
Los Angeles County Democratic Party (LACDP) Chair and California Democratic Party Vice Chair Eric C. Bauman issued the following statement on the Dec. 3 election results: “The Los Angeles County Democratic Party congratulates Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, the Democratic Party’s official candidate for state assembly, on his outright victory in today’s primary election. We look forward to working with Assembly Member-elect Ridley-Thomas as he brings the vigor of the next generation to Sacramento.”
Ridley-Thomas’ election is significant in a larger context. According to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, African Americans are the fourth largest minority group in the state—behind Whites, Hispanics and Asians. Additionally, the number of Black elected officials has continued to decline since the Golden era of Black politics in the 1970s.
Nationwide David A. Bositis, Ph.D., acting vice president of the Joint Center’s Civic Engagement and Governance Institute, also said that there are not that many younger Black elected officials.