Los Angeles, CA — With days left before voters go to the polls to determine who will finish out the unexpired 26th district state senate term of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, competition in the race is settling down between two main contenders with several others likely to make a strong showing and possibly even force a run-off in the heavily Democratic district.

Two of the competitors–Mike Davis and Curren Price–are currently sitting members of the state assembly, while a third candidate–Saundra Davis–serves on the Culver City School Board. These positions, particularly the state legislative roles, give these candidates a decided edge, when it comes to touting their accomplishments.

Another candidate, Robert Cole, has a high level of visibility from a grassroots standpoint, because he has been involved with such organizations as the Empowerment Congress West Area Neighborhood Development Council, (which he chaired).

The other candidates include Jonathan Friedman, a financial analyst; author and management consultant Mervin Leon Evans; educator and Republican Nachum Shifren; and communications technician and Peace and Freedom party member Cindy Varela Henderson.

The 26th Senate seat is a predominantly Democratic district that covers the communities of Arlington Park, Baldwin Hills, Beverlywood, Canterbury Knolls, Chesterfield Square, Country Club Park, Culver City, Exposition Park, Fox Hills, Hancock Park, Hollywood Hills, Hyde Park, Koreatown, Ladera Heights, Lafayette Park, Lafayette Square, Leimert Park, Los Feliz, Mid City, Morningside, Manchester Square, North University Park, Palms, Rancho Park, Silver Lake, University Expo Park West, Vermont Knolls, View Park, West Los Angeles, Windsor Hills and Wilshire Center.

It is an ethnically and economically diverse area that includes affluent enclaves such as Ladera Heights, View Park, Windsor Hills, Hollywood Hills and Hancock Park as well as more modest communities like Los Feliz and Mid City Los Angeles regions.

The district also includes sections of Los Angeles, Inglewood and all of Culver City as well as selected areas of unincorporated Los Angeles County.

The majority of the residents who live in the 26th District are Latino with African Americans, Caucasians and Asians following as the next three most populous communities.

The person elected to this senate seat must win 50% plus one vote in the March 24 primary or the majority of votes cast in a May 19 run-off. The individual will complete a term than ends Nov. 30, 2010.

Following find a summation of the candidates and some of their viewpoints:

Robert Cole: Calls himself a change agent, and says he would be the voice that would ask the tough questions, and not fall in line. He also calls himself a living, breathing embodiment of what young people in the district can be.
Mike Davis: Currently a 48th District Assemblyman, who among other things believes that in order to avoid disparate sentences, judges should look more like the community. He is also a proponent of universal health care, and better utilization of community colleges.
Saundra Davis: A staunch education candidate, she believes creating jobs is one of the most important issues in the City of Los Angeles and the state coupled with improving the public education system. She believes more funding is needed for education.
Mervin Evans: An outspoken grassroots candidate who says he will have the courage to stand up and lead. He also proposes a task force that would help the one in nine young Black men in jail gain life skills and a mind-set change; and supports free education at the college level.
Jonathan Friedman: A chartered financial analyst, Friedman believes the state should demand more reimbursement from the federal government for handling undocumented immigrants in the prison system. He also believes the state must demand more accountability from local school district officials.
Cindy Varela Henderson: Advocates for budget reform that changes the rules to assess non-residential property in the state at market value. Additionally instead of increased taxes on residents, she proposes an oil severance tax and reforming Proposition 13.
Curren Price: An advocate for small business, Price also believes that changing the requirement to pass the budget from two-thirds of legislators to a simple majority will prevent future budget impasses. On the education front, he supports adjustments in distribution of funding to favor resources for students and teachers.
Nachum Shifren: A Rabbi and 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles Unified School district, Shifren, believes that living in California is a privilege not a right and advocates removal of “multiculturalism” from the state; and some students paying for their education.