American history is full of battles and waged wars over the rights of individuals and even people of certain gender and ethnicities. The Black vote was (and still is) hard fought for, and there was a time in our not so distant past where women were not allowed to vote either.
Yet millions of people don’t take it seriously. They have “better things to do” than be a part of deciding who makes the laws, who enforces them and who is responsible for protecting more of our rights as citizens of the United States, our individual states, counties and cities. We have better things to do than respect the memories of the men, women and even children who have died in the pursuit of securing our right to vote.
Los Angeles County is possibly the biggest example of the importance of the vote because of its sheer number of citizens and the fact that it represents a huge melting pot of people of color and gender. Los Angeles is one of the largest counties in the country, encompassing more than 4,000 square miles and holding the largest population in any one county in the U.S. It is home to more than 10 million people and 4.3 million registered voters. A whopping 27 percent of California’s residents live in L.A. County. And within this massive county, there are 88 separate cities, each of which also has its own elections for council people, law enforcement and more.
If L.A. County were a nation, it would represent the 19th largest economy in the world.
And in less than a week (June 3), the citizens of L.A. County—that’s you in South L.A., in Inglewood and Burbank, in Pasadena and Long Beach, in Compton and Santa Monica—will have the opportunity to cast ballots to choose leaders. It’s your responsibility to select a variety of local leaders, including possibly the most important decision of this election—the L.A. County Sheriff.
Marred with corruption, scandal and an “ol’ boy network” that has continually denied people of color their rights, the vote to choose a new sheriff will impact how this county moves forward with its beleaguered law enforcement and protection of all citizens.
Paul Tanaka, Todd Rogers, James Hellmold, Robert Olmsted, Patrick Gomez, James McDonell and Lou Vince will face off. Refer to the voter’s guide for information on each candidate.
L.A. County Supervisors
Superseding all elections is the opportunity to choose new members of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. This powerful body has five elected members, and two of the seats are up for grabs on June 3, thanks to term limit. These are highly coveted positions in the county because these elected officials serve as the executive and legislative head of the largest and most complex county government in the United States, making decisions on law enforcement, healthcare, taxes and land development. Most importantly, the supervisors control a budget of $25 billion. It’s a sweet spot … each supervisor has a salary of just under $200,000 a year, and a $3 million budget for staff, office expenses, transportation and their own pet projects.
On June 3, voters will vote for people in the 1st and 3rd supervisorial positions:
• In L.A. County’s 1st Supervisorial District this position has a 20-plus year history and is a direct reminder to voters of just how important they are in deciding their future. The seat was created in 1990 after a voting rights lawsuit challenged the then Board of Supervisors for designing district lines to dilute the Hispanic vote.
As a result, district borders were redefined and Gloria Molina became the first Latina board member since the late 1800s. Molina’s term is up and there are three Hispanics seeking to replace her. Leading the pack to replace her is Hilda Solis, a former congresswoman, state lawmaker and former U.S. Secretary of Labor. Her opponents include Juventino Gomez, a former El Monte City Councilmember, and April Saucedo Hood, a police officer with the Long Beach School District. This district is home to nearly 2 million people and includes areas such as East L.A., portions of downtown L.A., Lincoln Heights, Baldwin Park and Highland Park, among other areas. A complete list can be found at http://ceo.lacounty.gov/forms/1st%20Map.pdf
In the county’s 3rd District, there are eight candidates in total, as a result of term limits for incumbent Zev Yaroslavsky. This district is geographically expansive and includes 2 million constituents as well. It covers rural areas such as the Santa Monica Mountains and heavily populated urban areas including Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. For a complete listing of cities and areas, check http://ceo.lacounty.gov/forms/3rd%20Map.pdf
School Board Special Election
Due to the untimely passing of Marguerite LaMotte, a special election is being held to fill her District 1 seat on the L.A. Unified School Board, which extends from Hancock Park to Gardena and includes much of South L.A. Initially 13 candidates signed up to run for this seat, but now it’s down to seven for the ballot, and it’s a fascinating field of contenders that includes educators, entertainers and politicians. All of the seven candidates are Black:
• Omarosa Manigault—many will recognize her from television’s “The Apprentice.” She has teaching credentials (Howard University) and is an ordained minister.
• Genethia Hudley-Hayes—a seasoned educator and activist, she has served on the board before and lost her bid for re-election in 2004 to LaMotte.
• Alex Johnson—he has experience as a public policy administrator, having served as assistant senior deputy for education and public safety for L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
• Rachel Johnson—she has 30 years of experience as a teacher and is also a Gardena City Councilwoman.
• Hattie McFrazier—she has held a variety of positions in the LAUSD district during her 31 years in education, including serving as a teacher, counselor, school attendance review board chair and health and human resources director.
• George McKenna—he is a retired L.A. Unified School District administrator and has served as a former school superintendent in several Southern California School Districts. Congresswoman Maxine Waters is one of his supporters.
• Sherlett Hendy Newbill—she has been a teacher for 15 years and a basketball coach. She grew up in the district and is the co-chair of the teacher’s union at Dorsey High School.
Although District 1 is heavily Hispanic, it contains the majority of LAUSD’s African American students and for decades its board member has been an African American female. The district also has a high percentage of registered Black voters.
Other notable items on the ballot
In addition to local choices for the L.A. County Sheriff, there are several statewide initiatives to be decided by voters.
• Proposition 41/Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act of 2014—Authorizes $600 million in bonds for affordable housing to relieve homelessness and provide affordable housing to veterans and their families.
• Proposition 42/Public Records Amendment—Requires local government to comply with laws allowing public access to local government body meetings and officials.
Other statewide considerations
• Congressional—Primary elections will be held in all of the state’s Congressional seats (53), 20 of the 40 state Senate seats and all 80 seats in the state assembly.
• Governor—this primary election will whittle down the number of candidates to two who will run against each other in November. The choices include incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown and candidates Neel Kashkari and Tim Donnelly, both Republicans.
• Lieutenant Governor—Gavin Newsom (Democrat) is the incumbent seeking his second term. His opponents are Democrat Eric Korevaar; Republicans David Fennell, George Yang and Ron Nehring; Jena F. Goodman (Green Party); Amos Johnson (Peace and Freedom); and Alan Reynolds (Americans Elect).
• Attorney General—Kamala Harris (Democrat) is the incumbent. Her opponents include Ronald Gold, John Haggerty, David King and Phil Wyman (all Republicans), and Jonathan Jaech (Libertarian) and Orly Taitz (no political party). Only the top two vote getters will proceed to November’s election.
• Secretary of State—This office is in charge of overseeing campaign and lobbyist financial information. Incumbent Debra Bowen has held the position as long as allowed by law, so she is termed out. (Please note that although Leland Yee is still on the ballot, he has withdrawn because of an indictment on corruption charges.)
Candidates include Roy Allmond and Pete Peterson (Republicans); Derek Cressman, Jeffrey H. Drobman and Alex Padilla (Democrats); David Curtis (Green Party) and Dan Schnur (no political party reference).
Other state positions include Controller, Treasurer, Insurance Commissioner, Superintendent of Public Instruction and State Board of Equalization.
The State Board of Equalization is a five-member body that deals with sales and use taxes, property taxes, special taxes and appeals on franchise and income tax cases. The fourth and third districts cover Los Angeles County, with District 3 covering the bulk of it. The only Black board member, Jerome E. Horton, who also serves as the board’s chairman, has 36 years of experience in government. There are several candidates vying for at least a chance to compete against him in November. The top two will be on the ballet come this fall. Horton’s opposition includes write-in candidates Eric. S. Moren and Jan B. Tucker (of the Peace and Freedom Party) Jose E. Castaneda (Libertarian) and G. Rick Marshall Republican).