w/Gardena Councilman Steve Bradford and Carson Councilman Mike Gipson

Believe it or not, come next Tuesday, September 1, ladies and gents, we’ve got another special election.

Tuesday’s special election is to fill the vacancy created in the 51st Assembly District when Senator Curren Price was elected to the 26th Senate District to replace Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas who replaced now retired Yvonne Burke. Still with me?

Under California law, vacant legislative seats can be filled only by special elections.  And if no one candidate garners the majority vote, a costly runoff election will be held November 3rd.

The 51st Assembly District stretches east from Westchester and Lawndale to include Inglewood, Hawthorne and Gardena; unincorporated communities including Del Aire, Alondra Park and Lennox; and some parts of Los Angeles.

An ethnically diverse, largely working-class district where Latinos make up 44% of the population, Blacks 31%, whites 14%, Asians and others 11%, according to 2000 U.S. Census data. One-third of residents did not finish high school, and the median household income, adjusted to 2008 dollars, is $49,400.  However Blacks outnumber Latinos in terms of registered voters.

The frontrunner and my pick to replace Price in the 51st Assembly District is Gardena Councilman Steven Bradford who ran for the seat in 2006 and lost to Senator Curren Price by 113 votes.

And before I go any further, yes, I am a consultant on Steve’s campaign. If I work on a campaign, chances are I support that candidate but make no promises or warranties for their behavior after elected. But I’m feeling really good about Councilman Bradford’s plans for the 51st Assembly District.

Now you know how I feel about endorsements. As I have said on many occasions, endorsements are basically the assumption that we, the voters, aren’t smart enough to do our research, and need someone who looks like us to tell us what to do. To that I say, don’t hate the player, hate the game.

So to that end, here’s what you need to know so that you can vote however you like.  Just vote!

The Election

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Click here to find your voting location and see sample ballot.

The District (Who Can Vote)

The 51st District includes:

  • Alondra Park
  • Del Aire
  • Gardena
  • Hawthorne
  • Inglewood
  • Lawndale
  • Lennox
  • Playa Vista
  • West Athens
  • West Compton
  • Westchester
  • Willowbrook
  • as well as portions of the unincorporated area of Ladera Heights.

The Job (Why You Should Vote)

About California’s Assembly

The California State Assembly is the lower house of the California State Legislature. There are 80 members in the Assembly, representing an approximately equal number of constituents, with each district having a population of at least 420,000. Due to the state’s large population and relatively small legislature, the Assembly has the largest population per representative ratio of any lower house legislature in the United States; only the federal U.S. House of Representatives has a larger ratio. Since a referendum in 1990, members of the Assembly are restricted by term limits, confining them to three two-year terms (six years).
The Assembly convenes at the California State Capitol in Sacramento.

California’s Legislature

The California State Legislature is the state legislature of the U.S. state of California. It is a bicameral body consisting of the lower house, the California State Assembly, with 80 members, and the upper house, the California State Senate, with 40 members. New legislators convene each new two-year session, to organize, in the Assembly Chambers at noon on the first Monday in December following the election. After the organizational meeting, both houses are in recess until the first Monday in January, except when the first Monday is January 1 or January 1 is a Sunday, in which case they meet the following Wednesday. The State Legislature meets in the California State Capitol in Sacramento.

The California State Legislature currently has a Democratic majority, with the Senate consisting of 25 Democrats and 15 Republicans; and the Assembly having 51 Democrats and 29 Republicans. Except for the period from 1995 to 1996, the Assembly has been in Democratic hands since the 1970 election (even while the governor’s office has gone back and forth between Republicans and Democrats). The Senate has been in Democratic hands continuously since 1970.

Terms and Term Limits

Members of the Assembly are elected from eighty districts, serve two year terms, and since 1990 are limited to being elected three times. Members of the Senate serve four year terms and are limited to being elected twice. There are forty Senate districts, with half of the seats up for election on alternate (two year) election cycles.

The Candidates (Who You Can Vote For)


*Gardena City Councilman Steven Bradford *— who lost to Price by just 113 votes in the 2006 primary race for the Assembly seat — is widely considered the front-runner. He has raised by far the most money — $192,000 by the end of the last reporting period. And he has the backing of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and several labor groups, including the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Bradford has picked up endorsements from the California Democratic Party and from a slew of local elected officials, including Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) and his former political opponent and the man he would replace, Sen. Price.

Gloria D. Gray, a retired healthcare administrator and former president of the Inglewood Unified School District Board who currently serves as vice president of the West Basin Municipal Water District Board.

Lawndale City Councilman Robert Pullen-Miles, a district representative for state Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach).

Thomas Jefferson Cares, who turns 21 next month and who dropped out of El Camino College to independently study public policy.

Mervin Leon Evans of Los Angeles, an author and business consultant and recipient of our coveted Negro Please Award for not wanting “chicks with dicks to get married.”  Mervin has run for many other offices, including the 26th Senate District earlier this year.


David Coffin of Westchester, an education activist and former small business owner.