I stood at my local Farmer’s Market in the “community zone” recently, trying to share news of the slate of candidates I am running with for LA County Central Committee (Democrat, AD55). The disinterest of my fellow weekenders was deeply sobering. The structured, Democratic political party “Committee” to which I am elected as a representative of them, is essentially ‘unknown yet knowable’… but not notable. By everyone.

Not even the physical district seems well-recognized. I ask person after person:  “do you vote in AD55”, and I am thrown a blank stare. They ask:  ¿What is AD55? ¿What is an assembly member; do I have one, who is it, how do I know, what do they do, why should I care? For the record:  this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

But the question is only meant preliminary to locating me and my race for the County Central Committee in AD55. It wasn’t intended to poke a vast quagmire of political ennui. Locating the boundaries of Assembly District 55 is as easy as glancing at a map (Figure 1). The same geographic area that Assemblymember Bryan represents, is the district that seven elected delegates to the County Democratic Central Committee will represent.

Figure 1: Map of assembly District 55 including the communities of:  Arlington Heights, Baldwin Hills, Carthay, Century City, Cheviot Hills (part), Crenshaw, Crestview, Culver City, Del Rey, Fairfax, Jefferson Park, Ladera Heights, Leimert Park, Mar Vista, Mid-City, Mid-City West, Palms, South Los Angeles (part), South Robertson, View Park, West Adams (part), Windsor Hills

What does LACDP do again?

Far more interesting is the question of what your Member of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party (LACDP; or LA County Democratic Central Committee, LAC-DCC) may have done, or what this Party might yet do for you.

The reflexive response from PLEO’s (Party Leaders and Elected Officials) is the slightly circular rejoinder: “We elect Democrats”. But opportunities exist beyond this meta-task. There is another realm of principled stance relating to policy and legislation, democracy and politics. If elected legislators deliver legislation, elected representatives to your political party deliver representation.

Legislative Action

One task I engage at LACDP is to represent you on its “Legislative Action” subcommittee. That group’s members recommend a position for the full County Committee, on legislation selected for consideration by its subcommittee members. We represent that adopted position to the Legislature in writing, the advocacy drafting of which I have also the honor of taking some small part in.

Interestingly, whether LACDP winds up exerting any effect or influence on a bill depends on a lot of factors: timing, circumstance, political climate, legislative strength. But our responsibility as advocates and representatives is not dictated by outcome, but rather by process. We pay priorities forward to our elected officials; our own, the Party’s, our constituent’s. This is one way that political representation and expression is conveyed.

I am proud of the priorities the collection of bills I have contributed to the Committee reflects.

On matters of public health my advocacy supported a brilliant federal workforce bill (S 2840) by Senator Sanders that would reduce healthcare costs and expand rural and primary care by training doctors and allied professionals. I am particularly excited by a mundane housekeeping bill (AB 1470; Quirk) that would standardize intrastate paperwork for Medi-Cal, freeing time, and money for critical youth behavioral health services therapy.

On matters of public education I ensured that LACDP is all-in on Senator Portantino’s Herculean effort (SB 98) to finance schools in accordance with enrollment needs rather than the perverse incentive of attendance. Another of Senator Portantino’s Herculean efforts was actually chaptered last September when SB 2 regulated concealed-carry weapons permits, as consequential a law for Education as any. I urged support for priority access to intersession programming for foster children and homeless youth, another lowkey but consequential bill (AB 373; Gipson) that became law last October. While the important effort to provide fare-free student transit passes by Asm Holden (AB 610) was sadly gutted and amended.

On matters of social justice and fairness, the Food4All campaign (AB 311) by Asm Santiago and Sen Hurtado would expand eligibility and assistance for CalFresh benefits.  Books banned in state prisons would be subject to process and accountability (AB 1986; Bryan). Independent local redistricting would have been sustained (AB 1248; Bryan) but for a gubernatorial veto on the grounds of cost.

While in contrast with these specific protocols around good governance, I commended a series of mostly federal “Big-Idea” laws around social and gun safety: the federal Commission to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans (HR 40; Jackson Lee), the People Over Pentagon Act (HR 1134; Lee), the Age 21 Act Assault and Weapons Ban (S 14, S 25; Feinstein), regulation of large capacity ammunition feeding devices (S 298; Menendez) and state legislation to limit arms by requiring liability insurance (SB 8; Blakespeare).

Most of the proposed legislation never became, or ever even was likely to become, chaptered law. But representing our priorities before elected officials, is an important responsibility of representing you from within their political Party. It feels like this matters; it is one element of what your LACDP should do for you.

This week at LACDP

We met in person for the second time only since early 2020 when the pandemic precluded in person meetings. The critical matter of endorsing candidates was conducted over two sessions of forced-mute Zoom conditions. The candidate whose recommendation was prevented from challenge, has since has been accused of facilitating sexual harassment of a minor mediated through her position as a PSA counselor and administrator in LAUSD, from which she is now on administrative leave. The endorsement, since retracted by labor partner CSEA, is an embarrassment to the County Central Committee that could have been avoided by honoring the process codified in bylaws designed for public, in person meetings.

This month’s meeting was attended by just 51% and 64% respectively of delegates attending December’s and January’s endorsement meetings. While there is an important political component to the job of LACDP’s elected Members (described in part above), there is no denying that the imprimatur of the Committee’s voting endorsement is premium. In the absence of public health emergency conditions, elected delegates to the LACDP should never acquiesce to conditions that enable antidemocratic manipulation of this critical function. There are approximately 308 candidates who filed for the office of Member, Democratic Central Committee in Los Angeles County across 24 counties in whole or in part. Some of these races will not appear on the ballot should there be nominated fewer than the 7 candidates to be elected per assembly district. The rest appear at LAist’s incredibly useful, public-service-oriented listing here (Thank You Brianna Lee!). No one unwilling to attend Committee meetings in person so as to defend and be accountable for their own vote and the actions of the Committee, should qualify for any of your seven votes per assembly district.

Please consider reelecting me and the other six members of my slate, Women United for Democracy, Organized To Thrive in AD55.

Thank you!