In 2008, Mark Ridley-Thomas was elected to the LA County Board of Supervisors by a wide margin, and has served three terms. Prior to that election, Ridley-Thomas served the 26th District in the California Sate Senate, while there, he was chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus.

Ridley-Thomas was first elected to public office in 1991 and represented the Eighth District on the LA City Council (because he served two terms previously, Ridley-Thomas, if elected, will be limited to one term on the council).

One of the supervisor’s endeavors admired by this publication is the role he played in the reopening of Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Watts. By all accounts, the new hospital now ranks as one of the best hospitals in LA County, lauded for its high tech and high-touch approach that combines state-of-the-art technology with compassionate patient care.

Another role which the veteran politician undertook was the formation of the African American Voter Registration, Education, and  Participation (AAVREP). This organization was established in 2000 by Ridley-Thomas; local civil rights leader, the late John Mack; Rev. Cecil Murray, former pastor of First AME Church;  and members of SEIU 2015.

More recently, Ridley-Thomas facilitated the donation of 35,000 surgical masks to the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health’s Homeless Outreach & Mobile Engagement (HOME) teams at the Downtown Mental Health Clinic in Skid Row.

Ridley-Thomas has been a leader in advocating for structural change for more than two million constituents and authored and led the County’s effort to end the homelessness crisis  through Measure H, which was passed by voters in 2017 and plans to raise $3.5 billion for homeless services over 10 years. Ridley-Thomas is focused on putting an end to the trend of criminalizing homelessness/mental illness which he said: “is both immoral and ineffective.” He said that issue is a “primary concern” in the 10th District.

The HOME teams which received the donations include mental health psychiatrists and counselors, psychiatric nurses and social workers, substance abuse counselors, medical caseworkers, and people who have experienced homelessness. They work directly with people living on the streets, at parks and under freeways to offer compassionate, knowledgeable, collaborative help in accessing medical, psychiatric and social services.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, HOME teams have been a key part of Los Angeles County’s effort to provide particularly vulnerable populations with critical basic needs, including food, water and clothing, personal protective equipment, temporary stays in a hotel or motel room through Project Roomkey and/or affordable apartments with supportive services.

“HOME teams represent the best of Los Angeles County, going out every day to serve some of our most vulnerable neighbors, literally saving lives in a pandemic,” Ridley-Thomas said. “With this donation of surgical masks, we can help keep them safe, as well as their clients, who need care now more than ever.”

“The vital work our HOME team does would not be possible without their passion and commitment, and keeping them safe with personal protective equipment is a priority to us,” said Jonathan E. Sherin, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. “We thank Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office for their gift of 35,000 surgical masks to support the health of our staff.”

“The homeless crisis remains our biggest challenge; we cannot retreat from our commitment to bring everyone indoors,” Ridley-Thomas said. “This is a moral and public health crisis that has consequences for everyone of us who live in the district.”

Ridley-Thomas has resided in the 10th District for many decades. He and his wife, Avis, reared their family there. He believes that is the area of town where he can do the most good.