Tensions flare over Chanukah date for Westside election

On November 18, 2013
By Jared Sichel

Former Culver City Mayor Christopher Armenta, who is running for a California state Assembly seat, sent a mailer to local residents last week accusing his opponent’s father, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, of using his influence to elect Sebastian Ridley-Thomas to the state Assembly by scheduling the upcoming special election on Dec. 3, during Chanukah.

In singling out Mark Ridley-Thomas, the mailer says: “The Supervisor pushes to have a very expensive Special Election called for December 3rd, 2013, two days after the Thanksgiving weekend and in the middle of Hanukah to make it nearly impossible for any other candidate to challenge his son.”

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, 25, is favored in the race for the 54th Assembly District, a heavily Jewish district that includes Culver City, Century City, Westwood, and Mar Vista. He is also the candidate officially endorsed by Los Angeles County’s Democratic Party.

California Governor Jerry Brown called the special election earlier this year after Holly Mitchell, the district’s previous representative, won election to the state Senate. There’s no indication that Mark Ridley-Thomas had any influence on selecting Dec. 3 as election day.

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas’s supporters suggest Armenta’s mailer is a last ditch effort to get the 49-year old former mayor of Culver City within striking distance.

Fred MacFarlane, Ridley-Thomas’s spokesman, said Armenta’s flyer suggests Jewish voters will not vote during Chanukah. MacFarlane said it is “insulting to the Jewish community” to suggest the date “would somehow have a negative impact on Jewish voter turnout because the election was being held” during Chanukah.

Armenta, responding by email, said the mailer “was about nepotism and its negative effect on the democratic process.” He said it clearly, “hit a nerve with my opponent, and his campaign has tried to distort my message and create controversy.”

“Scheduling an election on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving weekend, the kick-off of the holiday shopping season, and during the final days of Hanukkah, does nothing to encourage strong voter turn-out,” Armenta wrote.

“I have never stated that my Jewish supporters would be disinclined to vote for me because of Thanksgiving or Hanukkah,” he wrote.

There are, in fact, no Jewish legal restrictions on working, driving, or voting during the eight-day period of Chanukah, which begins on the night of Nov. 27.

Armenta acknowledged the distinction in his email, writing, “I am certainly aware that Hanukkah does not preclude Jews from working or voting.

“Nevertheless, it is significant in the hearts and minds of many of my Jewish friends and supporters, and I respect that,” he wrote.

Ari Noonan, editor of The Front Page Online, a Culver City online news site, wrote on Nov. 7th, “Laughably for Jews, Mr. Armenta complains that Election Day arrives in the middle of Chanukah—the Torah equivalent of arguing that Election Day falls in the heart of Arbor Day,” a holiday that celebrates trees.

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Is Armenta Dividing by Race?

On November 14, 2013
By Ari L. Noonan
The Front Page Online

When now controversial state Assembly candidate Christopher Armenta sent out his strongly criticized mailer last week, belittling his main rival in the race toward Dec. 3, it appears that his people divided recipients of the hit piece by race.

White people get this one. Black people get that one. All politicians have strategists who target certain groups. Otherwise, they would go broke in the first mailing if they sent to everyone.

In the Armenta mailer that sought to humiliate his opponent, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, as a lifeless, inexperienced, cynical tool in the wily, manipulative hands of his father, the powerful County Supervisor, Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Sources tell the newspaper that bold as the move may have been, Mr. Armenta would not have dared to send this attack piece into the homes of black residents of the 54th Assembly District since the Ridley-Thomas family not only is respected but admired.

“The Armenta campaign apparently did not send their discredited attack mailer to voters in Ladera Heights, Baldwin Hills, or the Crenshaw District,” a source told the newspaper this morning.

“We have found no evidence of voters in those areas having received the widely criticized mailer. It appears to have been sent exclusively to households in Culver City and West. L.A.”

A separate party said that “Chris needs the support of Latinos and Jews if he is going to force a runoff in February. That was why he made the allusion, silly though it was, to Chanukah.”

One more irony is lingering.

“It appears,” said a separate source, “as though Mr. Armenta adheres to the ancient proverb, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’”

Of all people, Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks has been heard on robocalls for Mr. Armenta. “He mentions the Dept. of Water and Power supporting Sebastian and how they will raise the rates,” a source reported.

Why?

Five years ago, Mr. Parks ran for Supervisor against Mark Ridley-Thomas and lost.

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 Ridley-Thomas Endorsements Roll In

On November 14, 2013
Culver City Observer News

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, a candidate to replace Holly Mitchell in the 54th Assembly District, has announced a new round of endorsements from politicians, labor unions, special interests groups and churches.

On the political front Los Angeles City Council member Mike Bonin, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Assembly members Lorena Gonzales and Al Muratsuchi and the California Democratic Party have issued endorsements.

On the labor front he has been endorsed by Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, IAFF Local 112, California Nurses Association, CDF Firefighters, and the powerful public employees union SEIU California. SEIU California represents 700,000 workers and comprises the United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW), United Healthcare Workers (UHW), SEIU Local 121RN, SEIU Local 1000, SEIU Local 721 and SEIU Local 99.

From the special interest arena Equality California and Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project of Los Angeles have endorsed him.

Ridley-Thomas served as a policy director to former state Sen. Curren Price and political director for our state’s nine-member California Legislative Black Caucus.

Ridley-Thomas will be running against former Culver City Mayor Christopher Armenta and Real Estate Broker John Jake in the special election scheduled to be held on December 3.

Sebastian is the son of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Armenta is the only candidate who resides in Culver City.

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Malsin Flip-Flops, Pulls Armenta Endorsement

On Stephen Hadland
November 14, 2013

Former Culver City Mayor Scott Malsin has endorsed Sebastian Ridley-Thomas in the special election for the 54th Assembly District seat and has withdrawn his endorsement of Christopher Armenta due to a controversial campaign mailer.

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas said, “I’m grateful for the endorsement and support of former Culver City Mayor Scott Malsin in my campaign for the 54th Assembly District. I share Scott Malsin’s concerns and interests regarding our state’s need to help our cities grow sensibly and smartly while creating new jobs that can put unemployed and under-employed residents back to work full time.”

Armenta charged Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Sebastian’s father, of influencing the Governor to set the special primary election for December 3 during the Jewish holiday of Chanukah.

Malsin, who resigned his council seat to keep lifetime medical benefits for his family and then was defeated when he ran to regain his council seat four months later, explains his actions in a letter to the editor found on page 9 and on the Observer’s website at http://www.culvercityobserver.com.

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Dear Editor

On November 14, 2013
By Letters
Culver City Observer

Dear Editor,

I’ve known Chris Armenta for over a decade. Having served with him for four years on the Culver City Council, I know his heart is in the right place. When asked if I would endorse his campaign for State Assembly, I did so without reservation.

However, having seen a recent campaign mailer attacking his opponent, I am withdrawing my support.

I have always set a high standard for my own conduct during campaigns. I never engaged in personal attacks, never condoned negative campaigning on my behalf, and have always taken responsibility for any material released on my behalf. I’m disappointed that Chris condoned the release of this hit piece.

This issue is a very fresh one for me. During our recent School Board campaign I released two public statements condemning harassing and unethical behavior targeted against a candidate. I find it impossible to support a candidate engaging in behavior of a similar nature.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with candidate Sebastian Ridley-Thomas at great length. I was extremely impressed by his intellect and his personal warmth. What struck me most, though, was the depth of his understanding of Culver City’s issues. His familiarity with my community is comprehensive and nuanced. It instilled in me great confidence that Ridley-Thomas will represent us well.

I am proud to offer my support to Sebastian Ridley-Thomas’s campaign for State Assembly.

Scott Malsin
Former Mayor, City of Culver City

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 As a Jew, County Chair Is Offended by Armenta’s
Mailer

On November 14, 2013

[Editor’s Note: We have obtained a copy of the scorching letter, dated Nov. 8, that the longtime chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party sent to state Assembly candidate Christopher Armenta over his mailer two days before that assaulted his chief rival in the Dec. 3 special election.]

Dear Mr. Armenta,

I was displeased to learn of your recent attack mailer against fellow Democrat Sebastian Ridley-Thomas.

Instead of focusing on the serious issues of the day, you made a less than-truthful attack designed to polarize the voters of Assembly District 54.

I’ll remind you that after careful consideration, the Democratic Party voted overwhelmingly to endorse Sebastian Ridley-Thomas with 89% of the votes cast. I don’t believe they were “convinced,” as your mailer says, by anything other than who will best represent working families in the 54th District.

There are too many falsehoods in your attack to refute one-by one, but as a proud, practicing Jewish American, just let me say don’t appreciate the overtones used to insinuate anyone pushed to have the election scheduled for “the middle of Hanukah.” You and I both know that Governor Brown set the Special Election Date for December 3rd, and alleging anything to the contrary is patently untrue.

I ask that in the future you stick to the issues instead of baseless attacks. Since I see you are such a fan of dictionary definitions, I will leave you with one I hope you will lean on for the remainder of this campaign.

in.teg.ri.ty

in’tegrite

noun

1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

Synonyms: honesty, probity, rectitude, honor, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousness, morality, virtue, decency, fairness, scrupulousness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness.

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas possesses all of these qualities, and that is why he is the only candidate endorsed by the Democratic Party. I hope that your campaign can strive to display a little more of them – the people of the 54th AD deserve that much from you.

Democratically yours,
Eric C. Bauman

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Ignoring His Lampooned Mailer, Democrats Endorse
Armenta

On November 14, 2013
By Ari L. Noonan
The Front Page Online

Re “I Am Stupid, and You Cannot Change My Mind”

The heavily criticized mailer that state Assembly candidate Christopher Armenta sent out last week to select homes, lashing at the race favorite’s alleged nepotism, was so egregious that even the neutral moderator of last evening’s Culver City Democratic Club forum, before a virulently pro-Armenta crowd, was moved to ask two haunting questions:

• “Do you have any explanation?”
• “Do you regret sending out the mailer?”

Undaunted, the ever-smiling Mr. Armenta not only threw off the inquiries by Gary Walker of the Culver City News, he swung back even harder.

He scarcely could wait to reach the only microphone in the Rotunda Room at the Vets Auditorium.

Standing by His Claims

“No,” Mr. Armenta answered promptly, plainly. “I am actually outraged. That’s why I did it. This is a hijacking of democracy.”

Uncommonly aggressive, he was on offense the whole time.

During his decade at City Hall, the normally mild-mannered former City Councilman rarely was heard to utter a critical syllable about a remote topic, let alone a germane one.

Let there be no doubt that Mr. Armenta not only believes, but waves a flag loudly and proudly to proclaim in stentorian tones. That the single reason 26-year-old Sebastian Ridley-Thomas is in a commanding if not dominant position and has raised a half million dollars “in special interest money” for the Dec. 3 special election, is because he is the son of the powerful County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

In the avalanche of criticism that has thundered down and washed over Mr. Armenta during the past week’s uproar, an almost throwaway scene late last evening at the monthly meeting of the Democratic Club should not be overlooked.

While Club President Bill Wynn was taking candidate-support comments from the crowd, a relatively unknown young man, Democratic Party activist Loren Scott stepped to the microphone for a single reason.

He virtually accused Mr. Armenta of lying, though he did not use that term, about why he left the race.

‘Armenta Did Not Tell Truth’
In the blatantly acerbic Armenta mailer, that features an Sebastian Ridley-Thomas unflattering Ridley-Thomas photo and accuses the County Supervisor of “orchestrating” his son’s election by orchestrating fundraising from special interests, orchestrating the election date in the middle of Chanukah, and forcing “qualified” candidates out of the race, Mr. Scott finally said whoa.

He charged Mr. Armenta with spreading “a falsehood.”

Mr. Scott said he left the race because he was getting married.

Working in Sacramento, 400 miles from home, was no place for a newly minted groom to be spending his days, he said.

Neither the crowd nor Mr. Armenta flinched.

Even the presumably evenhanded Los Angeles County Democratic Party found the Armenta mailer so offensive that Chair Eric Bauman told Mr. Armenta (see his nearby letter):

“There are too many falsehoods in your attack to refute one-by-one.”

For his part, Mr. Ridley-Thomas took the gentlemen’s route. Except for once accusing his opponent of “gutter politics,” and carefully, firmly, in a low-key way, refuting each of Mr. Armenta’s charges, he shrugged off the bomb-throwing.

Instead, Mr. Ridley-Thomas became the first state Legislature contender in recent memory to emphasize, repeatedly, the centrality of Culver City and its specific interests to his campaign and to his campaign and to his proposed legislative agenda.

While Mr. Armenta constantly stamped himself with far greater seasoning than Mr. Ridley-Thomas – he is twice his younger opponent’s age – Mr. Ridley-Thomas has worked in Sacramento and Washington. Insiders say Mr. Ridley-Thomas possesses far more legislative contacts and influence than Mr. Armenta, whose service has been entirely in Culver City. Mr. Armenta contends this is to his advantage because, having lived here all of his life, he knows the needs and desires of  residents better than anyone in the three-way race.

At times, the standing-room-only crowd of hometown Democrats seemed poised to hoist Mr. Armenta on their shoulders and shout “Hosannahs!”

The easiest call of the night was that Mr. Armenta, effusively lauded by admirers in the audience as an “experienced” politician – as opposed to the youthful Mr. Ridley-Thomas – would win a lopsided endorsement from his Culver City neighbors.

Although there were about a hundred people in the room, around the perimeter and practically out the door, only 58 were voting members of the Democratic Club. This meant 35 votes (60 percent) were needed for endorsement, and Mr. Armenta ran away, 45 votes to 11, with a single ballot cast for likely thirdplace finisher the impressive John Jake.

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Dr. Editor

On November 14, 2013
By Letters
Culver City Observer

Dear Editor:

Opponents of candidate Sebastian Ridley-Thomas in the upcoming 54th District Assembly race are drilling sideways to extract whatever votes they can from a tapped-out campaign.

Without an appealing platform, they’ve used an old campaign trick in an attempt to manipulate voters: Make an empty pledge and demand your opponents do the same. We once heard former President George H.W. Bush declare, “Read my lips… no new taxes,” only to backslide once in he was in the White House.

Bravado may sound good during a campaign, but candidates know that promises they can’t keep are dishonest, at best. Nonetheless, a candidate’s “I’ll ban…” promise tries to put their opponents in a bind – either tell voters what they want to hear, even if it’s deceptive, or appear to lack conviction.

It is easy to promise to introduce a bill banning ‘fracking’ in California; knowing it was tried at various times and failed to pass; and further knowing it won’t pass in the legislature as its members are currently composed. The promise is pointless.

According to all verifiable accounts, there is no fracking in the Baldwin Hills Oil Field, nor has there been since 2011 pursuant to a settlement with Culver City and three additional plaintiffs. Mr. Armenta should know this. He served a member of the Culver City Council at that time. So, why doesn’t Armenta tell the truth about the matter, and stop misleading and scaring well-intentioned people?

The current operator of the Inglewood oil field does not have a permit to use fracking at its site. Sebastian Ridley-Thomas has said he does not support permitting fracking at the oil field. The implication that Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, the front-runner in this race, is in the pocket of the oil field operator because of alleged contributions is patently false and frankly offensive.

The public record speaks for itself: There is no contribution from Freeport McMoRan to the Sebastian Ridley-Thomas for Assembly campaign (or any other Ridley-Thomas campaign for that matter). Sebastian’s campaign support is broad, diverse and deep – from nurses to firefighters, teachers to environmental leaders and business people to grassroots activists. To view his overwhelming support and endorsements, go to www.sebastianforassembly.com.

Christopher Armenta either doesn’t know the legislative history of earnest attempts to ban hydraulic fracturing or he is engaging in demagoguery. His struggling campaign tries to use Mr. Ridley-Thomas’s age against him. In this campaign, it is Mr. Armenta who needs to grow up and tell the truth or be prepared to face the facts from the voters on Election Day.

Fred MacFarlane

Culver City

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 Malsin withdraws support for Armenta in 54th Assembly District race

On November 14, 2013
By Wave Staff
The Los Angeles Wave – Culver City Edition

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas announced this week that former Culver City Councilman Scott Malsin has endorsed him in his campaign for the 54th Assembly District and withdrawn his support for candidate Christopher Armenta.

“I’m grateful for the endorsement and support of former Culver City Mayor Scott Malsin in my campaign for the 54th Assembly District,” Ridley-Thomas said. “I share Scott Malsin’s concerns and interests regarding our state’s need to help our cities grow sensibly and smartly while creating new jobs that can put unemployed and under-employed residents back to work full time.”

“Culver City can easily be viewed as a community that got a lot of things right by working together. Downtown Culver City has become a destination that is the envy of many other communities. Scott Malsin played in role in that central city transformation. I intend to turn to Scott for guidance and advice when I’m elected to serve the people of Culver City and Los Angeles in the state Assembly,” Ridley-Thomas added.

Malsin’s endorsement switch was triggered by inflammatory charges made by Armenta in a campaign mailer distributed to targeted voters in Culver City and West Los Angeles over the past five days, according to the Ridley-Thomas campaign. The mailer attacked Ridley-Thomas and his father, county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

A Ridley-Thomas campaign spokesman said Armenta’s mailer falsely accused Supervisor Ridley-Thomas of allegedly pushing to set the date for the 54th Assembly District special primary election, Dec. 3, so balloting would occur during the Jewish observance of Hanukkah and might result in lower turnout among Jewish voters.

Gov. Jerry Brown set the special election date on Sept. 30, 2013, following the election of former 54th District Assemblywoman Holly J. Mitchell to the state Senate.

In a formal statement released Saturday, Malsin said: “I’ve known Chris Armenta for over a decade. Having served with him for four years on the Culver City Council, I know his heart is in the right place. When asked if I would endorse his campaign for state Assembly, I did so without reservation.

“However, having seen a recent campaign mailer attacking his opponent, I am withdrawing my support. I have always set a high standard for my own conduct during campaigns. I never engaged in personal attacks, never condoned negative campaigning on my behalf, and have always taken responsibility for any material released on my behalf. I’m disappointed that Chris condoned the release of this hit piece.

“I recently had the opportunity to speak with candidate Sebastian Ridley-Thomas at great length. I was extremely impressed by his intellect and his personal warmth. What struck me most, though, was the depth of his understanding of Culver City’s issues. His familiarity with my community is comprehensive and nuanced. It instilled in me great confidence that Ridley-Thomas will represent us well.”

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Westside state Assembly race heats up: Attack mailer
targets son of Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has raised 10 times the funds of his opponents

On November 13, 2013
By Gary Walker

An otherwise listless special election contest to fill a state Assembly seat representing Mar Vista, Del Rey, Culver City and other Westside communities got a jolt of energy last week from a campaign mailer that targeted one candidate for his special relationship with the Los Angeles County Supervisor representing the area — that of father and son.

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, the 25-year-old scion of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, faces former Culver City Mayor Christopher Armenta, 49, and Olympic Park Neighborhood Council President John Jake, 47, in the Dec. 3 race for the 54th Assembly District.

All three are Democrats. If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, a runoff election would be held Feb. 4.

Last week county election officials mailed 195,000 sample ballot booklets and 80,000 vote-by-mail ballots for the contest.

Gov. Jerry Brown called the special election earlier this year after the seat’s previous occupant, Holly Mitchell, won election to the state Senate seat that had previously belonged to Curren Price and, before Price, Mark Ridley-Thomas. Price is now a member of the Los Angeles City Council and Sebastian Ridley-Thomas works as his education deputy.

The political mailer sent out Friday by Armenta’s campaign implied that ballot-box rival Sebastian Ridley-Thomas is getting unethical political assistance in the race from his powerful father.

“Nepotism is not democracy,” declares the front of the four-page mailer, which accuses the supervisor of raising money and endorsements for his son and even bullying other potential candidates out of running. The document goes on to also claim Mark Ridley Thomas had pushed for an ill-timed special election date during Chanukah in an effort to discourage voter participation.

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas
Armenta could not be reached this week to discuss his Assembly campaign or his recent mailer, which earned him a written rebuke from Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chair Eric Baum.

In a letter to Armenta, Baum described the mailer as “a less than truthful attack designed to polarize the voters” and admonished him to “stick to issues rather than baseless attacks. Baum further scolded that “as a proud, practicing Jewish-American, just let me say that I don’t appreciate the overtones used to insinuate anyone pushed to have the election scheduled the middle of Chanukah.”

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas brushed off the controversy.

“I’m running a positive campaign,” Ridley-Thomas said. “I was surprised that [Armenta] decided to make this negative attack.”

Ridley-Thomas has every reason to be confident.

The first-time political campaigner leads his opponents not only in name recognition but also in resources, according to the most recent campaign finance reports filed with California Secretary of State.

As of Nov. 6, Ridley-Thomas had raised more than $584,000 — nearly 10 times as much campaign cash as both of his rivals combined.

Armenta had raised nearly $64,000, including $50,000 of his own money, and Jake, a real estate broker, was bringing up the rear with approximately $6,000.

While he has not been able to garner a lot of high profile endorsements, Jake thinks one personal quality will benefit him in the election: “I can relate to people who look like me and who don’t look like me,” he said.

While Armenta enjoys support from several current and former Culver City officials, Ridley-Thomas backers make up a virtual who’s-who list of area business and politics.

Ridley-Thomas donors include businessman Austin Beutner at $4,100, billionaire Eli Broad at $2,500, the Anschutz Entertainment Group at $2,500, businessman Steve Soborof at $2,000, developer Rick Caruso at $1,000, former Los Angeles International Airport Commissioner Alan  Rothenberg at $1,000, plus Marina del Rey real estate developers Goldrich & Kest Industries at $5,000 and Heritage Development Corp. at $2,500.

Christopher Armenta

Notable public figures who are Ridley-Thomas donors include former Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel at $1,000, Assemblyman Steven Bradford (D- Westchester) at $3,000, Rep. Karen Bass (D- Culver City) at $1,000,

state Sen. Majority Leader Darrell Steinberg (D- Sacramento) at $4,100, Assemblyman Chris Holden (D- Pasadena) at $4,100, Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D- Los Angeles) at $2,000, and former LAUSD board member Cindy Montañez at $2,500.

Ridley-Thomas has also received contributions from the Microsoft Corp. Political Action Committee ($3,000), Chevron ($2,500), NBC Universal Media ($2,000), Sony Pictures Entertainment ($2,000), Disney Worldwide Services ($1,500), Monsanto Global Food ($1,300), the California Independent Petroleum Assoc. PAC ($1,000) and Ford Motor Co. ($1,000).

Trade unions have contributed tens of thousands of dollars.

A frequently discussed topic in the race is hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which is a controversial technique used to obtain oil and natural gas in areas where the fuels are trapped in rock and sand formations.

Both Armenta and Jake have previously said they would pursue a ban on fracking if elected.

Ridley-Thomas, who has taken contributions from several energy companies, simply said he would enforce all environmental regulations and laws, but currently there are no laws that rule out fracking.

However, Ridley-Thomas also said he sees environmental sustainability efforts in Mar Vista and other parts of the Westside paying off as an economic engine of the future.

“I think the 54th Assembly District can be a vehicle for advancing green technology,” he said.

gary@argonautnews.com

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Tomorrow is Opening Day for Sebastian Ridley-Thomas

On November 1, 2013

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas will officially open his campaign headquarters and voter outreach center tomorrow at 9 a.m.

County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, and L.A. City Council member Curren D. Price, Jr. will attend candidate Mr. Ridley-Thomas’s field campaign kickoff, along with supporters, volunteers and precinct walkers.

Mr. Ridley-Thomas’s campaign office is in the Crenshaw District, 5444 S. Crenshaw Blvd.

Additional endorsers – state Assembly members Holly J. Mitchell, Steven Bradford, Isadore Hall and Reginald Jones-Sawyer – are expected to attend.

Mr. Ridley-Thomas’s headquarters opening marks the start of his campaign’s crucial field operations and precinct canvassing with little more than a month to go before voters head to the polls to cast ballots in a 54th Assembly District special election primary on Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Mr. Ridley-Thomas faces two challengers.

The 54th Assembly District encompasses the City of Culver City and unincorporated  Ladera Heights, and the Los Angeles communities of Mar Vista, Palms, Westwood, Cheviot Hills, Beverlywood, Faircrest Heights, Century City, Holmby Hills, Mid City, Lafayette Square, Baldwin Hills, View Park, Windsor Hills, the Crenshaw District, Jefferson Park, Leimert Park and Park Mesa Heights.

For more information see www.sebastianforassembly.com

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The Soulvine

On October 31, 2013
By Betty Pleasant, Contributing Editor

IT’S SEBASTIAN RIDLEY-THOMAS TIME! – This 54th Assembly District candidate kicked much “bootay” in Culver City Monday night at his first debate with the two other fellows vying for that seat.

He was the only one who appeared to know what he was talking about on all the topics presented to the candidates. He’s an erudite young man who obviously reads a lot.

Ridley-Thomas’ campaign office will open at 5444 Crenshaw Blvd., suite 100 on Saturday beginning at 8:30 a.m. So there’s plenty of time to go to his opening and then go to Gray’s meet-and-greet. Also, California Attorney General will be a special guest at and event in support of Ridley-Thomas scheduled for Monday from 5 to 7 p.m. at 850 S. Beverly Glen.

Ridley-Thomas roped in this week the endorsements of the SEIU California, which represents more than 700,000 workers throughout the state. In addition, he was endorsed by the United Firefighters of Los Angeles city, the California Department of Forestry Firefighters and the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters.

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The Soulvine

On October 24, 2013
By Betty Pleasant, Contributing Editor

IT’S SEBASTIAN TIME! -

A 54th Assembly District debate will be held Monday at 6 p.m. at St. Bede’s Episcopal Church, 3570 Grand View Blvd. in Los Angeles. All three candidates will be there:Christopher R. Armenta John Jake and Sebastian Ridley-Thomas.… Ridley-Thomas received the endorsement last week of the Los Angeles Police Protective League and of Nancy Pearlman, a trustee for the Los Angeles Community College District.

In the 54th Assembly District Caucus balloting last Sunday, the preliminary vote results showed that Ridley-Thomas received the support of 58 of the 65 delegates favoring his candidacy for the Assembly seat. Let’s back up. Remember back in the day — before Chief Bill Bratton came here – when we hated the Police Protective League? Remember how we would kill any candidate whom that group endorsed? The very fact that I – Betty Pleasant – can sit here and calmly report the PPL’s endorsement of a Ridley-Thomas is positive proof that relations between the LAPD and us are better than they’ve ever been in history! Thank you Chief Bratton, thank you Chief Charlie Beck and thank you Commissioner John Mack.

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A famous name can’t hurt

On October 21, 2013
By Rick Orlov

It helps to have friends in high places.

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, the son of county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, is having a high-powered political fundraiser on Nov. 4 for his Assembly race, featuring state Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Hosting the event is political consultant Bob Shrum and the sponsorship levels start at $4,100, the maximum allowed for a state Assembly race.

He is running for the seat that had been held by Holly Mitchell, who was recently elected to the state Senate in the seat that had been held by Councilman Curren Price.

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Look Who is Backing the Ridley-Thomas Campaign

On October 16, 2013
By Ari L. Noonan

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas appears so far in front in the Dec. 3 race to fill the state Assembly seat vacated by new state Sen. Holly D. Mitchell that his challengers need two cars to catch up.

In the tallest piece of irony yet in the first-time candidate’s swiftly rising campaign:

Jerome Horton, chair of the state Board of Equalization, has endorsed Mr. Ridley-Thomas, who may have more endorsees than votes.

Normally, that would be a yawn – except that Mr. Horton is the boss, by day, of Chris Armenta, Mr. Ridley-Thomas’s presumed main challenger.

Said Mr. Ridley-Thomas:

“He is held in high regard on both sides of the political aisle for helping structure the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and sponsoring the Board of Equalization’s volunteer income tax assistance services.”

All of that may be shrubbery until the irony of Mr. Horton’s professional position is considered.

This morning, City Councilman Mehaul O’Leary signed up for the Ridley-Thomas bandwagon.

“Like many communities on the Westside,” said Mr. Ridley-Thomas, “Culver City is besieged by traffic gridlock, most of it not of its own making. I look forward to joining with Councilmember O’Leary in taking a fresh look at our district’s choking surface street traffic. I plan to engage transportation officials, community leaders, business groups and neighborhood associations in a new dialogue.”

The 54th Assembly District encompasses Culver City and unincorporated Ladera Heights, and the communities of Mar Vista, Palms, Westwood, Cheviot Hills, Beverlywood, Faircrest Heights, Century City, Holmby Hills, Mid City, Lafayette Square, Baldwin Hills, View Park, Windsor Hills, the Crenshaw District, Jefferson Park, Leimert Park and Park Mesa Heights.

For more information on Mr. Ridley-Thomas’s campaign, see www.sebastianforassembly.com

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The Culver City Observer

On October 10, 2013

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas announces that former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has endorsed him in his December 3 special election primary campaign for the 54th Assembly District.

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas said,”I’m honored to be endorsed by former L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa. Our former mayor had a significant impact on the future of transportation for our city and region through his efforts to accelerate the planning, funding and construction of major mass transit systems.

“As an Assembly member I intend to work closely with community stakeholders and transportation experts to determine what we can all do together to relieve the daily gridlock on our surface streets on the Westside and in Southwest L.A.”

The 54th Assembly District encompasses the City of Culver City and unincorporated Ladera Heights, and the Los Angeles communities of Mar Vista, Palms, Westwood, Cheviot Hills, Beverlywood, Faircrest Heights, Century City, Holmby Hills, Mid City, Lafayette Square, Baldwin Hills, View Park, Windsor Hills, Crenshaw District, Jefferson Park, Leimert Park and Park Mesa Heights.

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Everybody get up

On October 10, 2013
By Betty Pleasant, Contributing Editor

ENDORSEMENTS AND FAVORITES — The California Legislative Black Caucus endorsed this week a total of six Assembly candidates, with the most qualified being, of course, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas for the 54th District. Ridley-Thomas, whose special election is slated for Dec. 3, also gained the endorsement of former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the California Professional Firefighters Association and Assemblyman Adam Gray, chairman of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

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The Soulvine

On October 10, 2013
By Betty Pleasant, Contributing Editor

ENDORSEMENTS AND FAVORITES — The California Legislative Black Caucus endorsed this week a total of six Assembly candidates, with the most qualified being, of course, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas for the 54th District. Ridley-Thomas, whose special election is slated for Dec. 3, also gained the endorsement of former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the California Professional Firefighters Association and Assemblyman Adam Gray, chairman of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

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Hill Bows Out of Assembly Race, Vows to Support Sebastion Ridley-Thomas

On October 4, 2013
Written by Kenneth Miller

With a swelling war chest of more than $400,000, Ridley-Thomas is the leading choice

The announcement that Joey Hill has bowed out of the race for California’s 54th State Assembly seat and is shifting his support in favor of leading candidate Sebastion Ridley-Thomas, is increasing the likelihood of the son of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas winning his first election.

“I chose to withdraw from the race to avoid a split in the African American community, thereby putting the seat in jeopardy of losing Black representation,” said Hill in a recently released statement.

Hill is currently the chief of staff for Assemblyman Reggie Jones Sawyer.

Ridley-Thomas said he greatly appreciates the support he has received from numerous endorsers, including support he has received from former 54th Assembly District candidate Samuel J. “Joey” Hill.

“Joey Hill is a respected political strategist with a long tenure of public service at the state level. Joey will continue to provide our community with senior level guidance, public policy wisdom and expert political counsel as chief of staff to California State Assembly member Reginald Jones-Sawyer,” Sebastion Ridley-Thomas said.

Assembly candidate Ridley-Thomas also received some additional heady advice from his father, among the most respected elected officials in the nation.

“Things are moving in the right direction for Sebastion, a next generation leader. Joey Hill has been gracious in his decision and he is to be respected for that as he has new political plans to consider,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

He added; “My advice to Sebastion is to work hard, work smart. Don’t give up until victory is yours. In other words it ain’t over until it’s over.”

Council President Herb Wesson also has applauded the efforts of Sebastion.

“Sebastian Ridley-Thomas has the unique qualities of someone who is very well informed about our community and its needs, and the legislative experience needed to get things done in Sacramento. He will be a tremendous asset to our community and he has my strong support.”

Ninth District City Councilman Curren Price, for whom Sebastion works, commended Hill on his decision.

“I’m pleased that there is a growing consensus in support of the candidacy of Sebastian Ridley-Thomas for the CA 54th Assembly District. Joey Hill’s decision not to run, this time, will well position him for future consideration,” said Price.

Therefore, Hill will support Ridley-Thomas, son of County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, in an effort to unite our community politically.

Governor Jerry Brown issued a declaration setting the special election in the 54th Assembly District for December 3 with a runoff set for February 4 if no candidate receives over 50% of the vote in the primary. Holly Mitchell vacated the Assembly seat when she was recently sworn into the State Senate.Meanwhile, 54th Assembly District candidate Sebastian Ridley-Thomas surpassed the $400,000 mark in contributions and added Earvin “Magic” Johnson to a diverse and growing list of supporters. Johnson, the all-time Lakers leader in assists in Los Angeles with 10,141, is also an influential business leader and job creator, and an owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.Ridley-Thomas has also been endorsed by Congresswomen Karen Bass and Janice Hahn, his father, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, assembly members Chris Holden, Stephen Bradford, Isadore Hall, Shirley Weber, Cheryl Brown, Toni Atkins, Mike Gatto, Bonnie Lowenthal, Adam Gray and Anthony Rendon; L.A. City Council members Curren Price, Herb Wesson, Joe Buscaino, Paul Koretz and Bill Rosendahl; L.A. School Board member Monica Garcia and former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez. Currently serving as Councilmember Price’s Senior Deputy for Education, Economic Development and Health, Ridley-Thomas previously served as then-Senator Price’s policy director and chief liaison to South Los Angeles clergy and faith-based organizations and political director for California Legislative Black Caucus. Prior to that, he worked with the Children’s Defense Fund and California Department of Consumer Affairs. Sebastian Ridley-Thomas’ campaign team includes SG&A Campaigns (Parke Skelton, Steve Barkan and Mike Shimpock), Fred MacFarlane heading communications, and David Pruitt and Stephanie Daily handling fundraising.

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Jerry Brown calls Dec. 3 election for vacant L.A.-area Assembly seat

On September 30, 2013
by Jean Merl

Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday called a Dec. 3 special election to fill a vacant Los Angeles-area Assembly seat.

At least six candidates have said they intend to run for the 54th Assembly District post previously occupied by Holly Mitchell, a Democrat who this month won a special election to the state Senate.

If no candidate wins a majority in December, a runoff will be held Feb. 4 between the top two vote-getters.

The district includes Westwood and the UCLA campus, Century City, Baldwin Hills, the Crenshaw district and Culver City.

One of the candidates, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, 26, is the son of county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, a longtime fixture among area elected officials. The younger Ridley-Thomas has far outdistanced the other potential candidates in fundraising, having collected more than $400,000 to date.

The first-time candidate also has reaped endorsements from many area elected officials who have worked with his father, a former L.A. councilman and state legislator. On Monday, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas’ campaign announced that basketball-great-turned-businessman Earvin “Magic” Johnson also is backing him.

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The Front Page Online: Sebastian Will Make His Mark, but Not as Mark II

On September 10, 2013

After the Los Angeles Times tooted the news on last Saturday morning’s front page that among the long-serving members of the  County Board of Supervisors, Mark Ridley-Thomas will be the last to leave, seven years away, here is an update: Any hour, Mr. Ridley-Thomas, still a youthful 58 years old, may step aside with supreme  confidence in subsequent developments. The family’s proud political legacy is about to be safely transferred to the next generation through a process that, at a glance, sounds more convoluted than President Obama’s runup to his present Syrian crisis.

In a special (lopsided) election one week from today, state Assemblyperson Holly Mitchell (D-Culver City) easily will be voted into the state Senate seat vacated last May by Curren Price when he was elected to the Los Angeles City Council.

Following that automatic choice, Gov. Brown will call for another special election, presumably between Thanksgiving and Christmas, to fill Ms. Mitchell’s Assembly chair.

On that day, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas will be heavily favored to defeat former City Councilman Chris Armenta. Imperturbable order will prevail for the next several years – until Ms. Mitchell chooses to run either for the Board of Supervisors or the Los Angeles City Council. That, however, is a different story.

Today’s topic is the impressive 26-year-old Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, of whom political magpies are sure to say that he hitched a ride on the coattails of his father.

Proof, Pudding, Poof
Balderdash, his defenders will answer.

Even though his father has been politically prominent for three decades, and often is called the most powerful black politician in Los Angeles, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas is walking in his own shoes, not borrowed ones, not inherited ones.

For most of the five years since graduating college, Mr. Ridley-Thomas the Younger, a twin, has been apprenticing in Sacramento, until this summer on the staff of the former Sen. Price.

Sitting across a table from him yesterday afternoon at Akasha in Downtown, MRT-Y not only bears an unmistakable facial resemblance to his father, close your eyes and their voices sound twinned.

However, accumulated knowledge, penetrating insights, philosophical conviction, unwavering eye contact cannot be imitated.

They may not represent the difference between a fresh loaf and yesterday’s bread – Supervisor Ridley-Thomas is at least seven years’ shy of the political bonepile – would-be Freshman Ridley-Thomas surely is the best-informed, most-rounded rookie competing in the present electoral system, inarguably his own man, not a knockoff.

That is evident as soon as Sebastian Ridley-Thomas starts speaking.

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The Los Angeles Sentinel: Sebastian Ridley-Thomas: The Next Generation vies for Assembly

On August 29, 2013

The decision to run for political office is one based on a myriad of circumstances, but it’s outcome rest in the hands of voters who determine their fate.

There have been a number of established elected officials whose offspring have attempted to follow in their footsteps.

Former State Senator Kevin G. Murray became the first California Assemblyman to serve alongside his father Willard Murray in 1994.

Curren Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) is the son of former State Senator and longtime Los Angeles City Councilman Nate Holden.

Others tried, but were not successful.

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, the 26-year old son of Avis, who was the administrator of the Dispute Resolution Center in the office of the Los Angeles City Attorney and powerful Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, is representing the NEXT generation of African American leadership.

Sebastian’s quest to serve follows in the public service footsteps of his mother – Avis Ridley-Thomas, a pioneer in conflict resolution – and his father, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Chairman of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and founder of the community empowerment movement that has become a model for communities nationwide.

“He is a new generation of leadership, committed to public service in a honored way,” explained 2nd District Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

The 54th District Assembly Seat that Sebastian is vying for is one that encompasses a long and illustrious history of dynamic African American political leadership, from Ret. Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke, late Assemblyman and Congressman Julian C. Dixon, Ret. Senator Kevin G. Murray, City Council President Herb Wesson, Congresswoman Karen Bass and current Assembly-member Holly Mitchell who is vacating the seat to run for State Senate.

The 54th Assembly district includes Culver City, View Park, Windsor Hills, Ladera Heights and parts of West and Southwest Los Angeles.

“This seat represents significant African American leadership and a cross section of diversity that stretches from Westwood to Western Ave. I am very well aware of its significance because I was raised in the district,” eloquently stated Sebastian in an exclusive interview with the Sentinel.

It was during the Senate Fellow Program where he impressed many state office holders with his acumen and he was subsequently sought after by several senators, but chose to work for then Senator Curren Price.

Sebastian served as Public Policy Director for State Senator Curren Price, advising Price on economic development, transportation, housing, public safety, and local government issues – all of which are of critical importance to constituents in the 54th Assembly District.

“He has seen with his own eyes what can be accomplished as a public servant,” added his father.

His experience as a legislative consultant to the Senate Select Committee on Procurement which is responsible for securing the community’s fair share of lucrative state contracts to qualified small business owners in underserved communities, has prepared him for his first political campaign.

It is a campaign that is already steep in financial resources having surpassed the $200,000 threshold just out of the starting blocks.

A graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, it’s not by design that he has selected to dip into the murky waters of politics. His twin brother Sinclair by contrast is a polished accountant enrolled in the prestigious USC Marshall School of Business. Sebastian and his twin brother came of age as students of participatory politics.

“I’m supportive of both of them, but he and his brother were not raised to follow in my footsteps. I was in my mid 30’s when they was born, so my wife (Avis) and I created opportunities for exposure not knowing where it would necessarily lead,” continued The Supervisor.

It was Sebastian who led Price’s successful campaign to win a competitive 9th District Los Angeles City Council race and that is what inspired him to run for Assembly.

“It was really the encouragement of my community and the work that I did with Councilman Price, helping the Black Caucus in Sacramento as their political director that helped me made the decision to run,” said candidate Sebastian.

His father’s advice was clear; “I told him to think long and hard about it, twice and then some. It’s not for those who are weak. It’s for those who are committed to service and he’s ultimately convinced me of that.”

He currently works at as senior deputy for Councilman Price, focusing on economic development and health.

Sebastian served a full time internship at the Children’s Defense Fund, sponsored by American Baptist, and worked jobs between Washington DC and Los Angeles, while spending numerous hours in seminars.

Deeply grounded in faith, Sebastian was responsible for bringing together some 500 religious institutions spanning all faiths across 30 square miles as Senator Price’s chief liaison to Los Angeles’ faith-based organizations and clergy.

“Living in a house that defines public service leadership, he understands problem solving and conflict resolution,” revealed the elder Ridley-Thomas.

Sebastian says that he learned about conflict resolution from his mother, but recently retired from The City of Los Angeles after 30 years.

If elected to the assembly he will join African Americans Steve Bradford (D-62), Shirley Weber (D-72), Cheryl Brown (D-47), Holden (D-41), Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-59) and Isadore Hall III (D-64), although Hall is a leading candidate to become senator.

Obviously, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas would be the youngest member of the fraternity, but wise beyond his years and oozing the intellect and character, he is poised to embrace public service like his many great predecessors before him.

“From the time he was in elementary school to high school at Loyola and onto Morehouse he has been involved in levels of leaderships that has prepared him. While at Morehouse he took it to another level, traveled internationally, studied theology and history,” concluded Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Assembly is just the first stop for this NEXT generation leader.

Read online article: http://www.lasentinel.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11794:sentinel-exclusive-sebastian-ridley-thomas-the-next-generation-vies-for-assembly&catid=80:local&Itemid=170

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Our Weekly Los Angeles

On July 30, 2013

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, one of the twin sons of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, is following in his dad’s political footsteps with the recent announcement that he will run for the 54th Assembly District.

The younger Ridley-Thomas has worked as a public policy director, community organizer and consumer advocate. He has also worked in the office of Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and served as a state Senate fellow.

He is seeking to succeed Assemblymember Holly J. Mitchell, who recently announced her candidacy for the 26th Senate District, which was previously held by Curren Price, who was elected to the Los Angeles City Council. The primary election for the 26th District takes place on Sept. 17 and the general election will be on Nov. 19

http://ourweekly.com/news/2013/jul/25/sebastian-ridley-thomas-declares-candidacy/#.Ufg0xWRAT_w

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LA Times: Supervisor’s son enters L.A.-area assembly race and family business

On July 25, 2013

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, a city council deputy and a son of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, has entered the expected race for a Los Angeles-area seat in the state Assembly.

Ridley-Thomas, 25, said he will run for the 54th Assembly District post currently held by Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles). Mitchell plans to seek the state Senate district seat that opened with the recent election of Curren D. Price Jr. to the Los Angeles City Council. If she wins that post in a special election this fall, as many observers expect, there will be another special election to fill her seat in the Legislature’s lower house.RT with Family

The Assembly district includes Culver City, View Park, Windsor Hills, Ladera Heights and parts of West and Southwest Los Angeles.

Ridley-Thomas currently is Price’s senior council deputy for education, economic development and health. He also worked on Price’s state Senate staff as policy director.

“For the past six years, I have been intimately involved in the development of policy proposals and formulation of draft legislation on issues that are of prime importance to the residents of our community: economic development, transportation, housing, public safety and local government issues,” Ridley-Thomas said in a statement announcing his candidacy.

“I firmly believe the work I’ve done on these issues and other matters has prepared me to represent the interest of the people … and to do so with great energy and understanding,” the statement continued.

Those family ties probably aren’t going to hurt, either. The younger Ridley-Thomas said he already has raised more than $100,000 for his campaign and has lined up an array of endorsements from business and civic leaders. They include businessman and former L.A. Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner and Democratic Party activist Hope Warschaw.

Mark Ridley-Thomas, who chairs the Board of Supervisors, previously held a seat on the Los Angeles City Council and founded the Empowerment Congress, a community-based movement. The candidate’s mother and supervisor’s wife, Avis Ridley-Thomas, pioneered conflict resolution techniques.

Several others also have declared their candidacy for the seat. According to the California Target Book, a nonpartisan tracker of state legislative and congressional races, they include Joey Hill, who is chief of staff to Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles); transit activist Damien Goodman, who is chair of the Crenshaw Subway Coalition; teacher and Democratic Party activist Loren Scott; Erick Morales, a board member of the South Robertson Neighborhood Council, and Christopher Armenta, a former Culver City councilman.

All are Democrats. Registration in the district is 63% Democratic, 11% Republican and 16% no party preference.

http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-pc-sebastian-20130724,0,4769260.story

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The Front Page Online: Power Players Line up for Sebastian

On July 24,2013

One month after opening his campaign for the state’s 54th Assembly Dustrict, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas today announced that he has earned the support of an influential array of Los Angeles area political, community, business, labor and civic leaders.

The seat currently is held by Holly Mitchell (D-Culver City) who is expected to win a special election Sept. 17 for the state Senate seat vacated this month by Curren Price after he won the Los Angeles City Council’s 9th District.

Mr. Ridley-Thomas, a twin son of County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, is a Public Policy Director, community organizer and advocate for consumers, children and small businesses.

Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, Councilmembers Curren Price and Paul Koretz, state Assembly members Steve Bradford and Isadore Hall, and former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez are endorsing Mr. Ridley-Thomas.

He also has gained support from community and business leaders, including Los Angeles Police Commissioner John W. Mack, the former head of the Urban League, longtime community leader Barbara Yaroslavsky, Gary Toebben, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Cynthia McClain-Hill, past president of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Areva Martin, president of the nonprofit Special Needs Network, and Armen Ross, president of the Crenshaw Chamber of Commerce.

Among the prominent religious leaders endorsing Mr. Ridley-Thomas for Assembly are the Rev. Xavier Thompson, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and Southern California; Rev. J. Benjamin Hardwick, senior pastor of Praises of Zion Missionary Baptist Church and president of the Western Baptist Convention; Rev. J. Edgar Boyd, pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church (FAME); Rev. Norman Johnson of First New Christian Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church; Rev. Robert Habersham, pastor emeritus of Hamilton United Methodist Church, and Rev. LeSean Tarkington, pastor of St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Mr. Ridley-Thomas served as policy director for former Sen. Price, and as the Senator’s chief liaison to South Los Angeles’ faithbased organizations and served as Deputy Political Director for the California Legislative Black Caucus. He previously served with the Children’s Defense Fund and state Dept. of Consumer Affairs.

After graduating from Loyola High School in Los Angeles, earning his bachelor’s in sociology from Atlanta’s Morehouse College, completing an internship with Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and serving as State Senate Fellow through the Center for California Studies at Cal State Sacramento, Mr. Ridley-Thomas studied Conflict Resolution and Cross-Cultural Civic Engagement at U.C.Davis.

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Sebastian Ridley-Thomas announces broad coalition of support for Assembly campaign

On July 23, 2013

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas announces broad coalition of support for Assembly campaign

Local elected officials join labor, business, civic and neighborhood leaders in backing Ridley-Thomas for 54th Assembly seat.

LOS ANGELES – Tuesday, July 23, 2013 – Sebastian Ridley-Thomas today announced that he has earned the support of an influential array of Los Angeles area political, community, business, labor and civic leaders. Ridley-Thomas – a Public Policy Director, community organizer and advocate for consumers, children and small businesses — announced his campaign for the state’s 54th Assembly District on June 25.

“I am gratified by the strong support and encouragement I have received to date from such a broad coalition of elected leaders, such as L.A. City President Herb Wesson, L.A. City Councilmembers Curren Price and Paul Koretz, state Assembly members Steve Bradford and Isadore Hall and former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez. To have these leaders place their faith in me is humbling and fuels my drive to be successful in my campaign to represent the interests of the people of the 54th Assembly District,” Mr. Ridley-Thomas said.

Mr. Ridley-Thomas has also received support from community and business leaders, including L.A. Police Commissioner John W. Mack, longtime community leader Barbara Yaroslavsky, Gary Toebben, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Cynthia McClain-Hill, past president of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Areva Martin, president of the nonprofit Special Needs Network, and Armen Ross, president of the Crenshaw Chamber of Commerce.

“I’m also honored to be supported by John Mack – one of our community’s most revered and accomplished leaders for the past 40-years. I’m equally honored to have the support of influential business leaders who are key to creating new jobs in the 54th Assembly District and pushing our local economic forward,” Mr. Ridley-Thomas noted.

Among the many prominent religious leaders endorsing Sebastian Ridley-Thomas for Assembly are: Reverend Xavier Thompson, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and Southern California; Reverend J. Benjamin Hardwick, senior pastor of Praises of Zion Missionary Baptist Church and president of the Western Baptist Convention; Reverend J. Edgar Boyd, pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church (FAME); Reverend Norman Johnson of First New Christian Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church; Reverend Robert Habersham, pastor emeritus of Hamilton United Methodist Church, and Reverend LeSean Tarkington, pastor of St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Mr. Ridley-Thomas is campaigning to succeed 54th Assembly District member Holly J. Mitchell. Assemblymember Mitchell announced her candidacy for the 26th Senate District previously held L.A. City Councilmember Curren Price.

Mr. Ridley-Thomas served as policy director for state Senator Curren Price, and as the Senator’s chief liaison to South Los Angeles’ faith-based organizations and served as Deputy Political Director for the California Legislative Black Caucus. He previously served with the Children’s Defense Fund and state Department of Consumer Affairs.

After graduating from Loyola High School in Los Angeles, earning his Bachelors Degree in Sociology from Atlanta’s Morehouse College, completing an internship with Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and serving as State Senate Fellow through the Center for California Studies at California State University, Sacramento, Mr. Ridley-Thomas studied Conflict Resolution and Cross-Cultural Civic Engagement at the University of California, Davis.

Mr. Ridley-Thomas follows in the public service footsteps of his mother – Avis Ridley-Thomas, a pioneer in conflict resolution – and his father, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Chairman of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and founder of the Empowerment Congress, a community-based empowerment movement that has become a model for cities and neighborhoods nationwide. Sebastian Ridley-Thomas and his twin brother Sinclair – also a graduate from Morehouse College in Atlanta – came of age as students of community engagement and organizing.

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