Culver City Edition Lead Story West Edition

Three seek to replace Ridley-Thomas in Assembly

LOS ANGELES — In the wake of Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas’ resignation last week due to health reasons, three candidates already have announced their plans to seek his position in the 54th District.

Sydney Kamlager-Dove, president of the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees and district director for State Sen. Holly J. Mitchell, announced her candidacy Dec. 29 for the vacant seat. She has already received endorsements from local representatives including Mitchell, U.S. Rep. Karen Bass and Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia.

“Sydney has proven herself as a policy leader and a strong advocate for community college students and faculty as a member and president on the LACCD Board of Trustees,” Sen. Mitchell said in a statement that was released by Kamlager-Dove’s campaign.

Since then, Kamlager-Dove has compiled a list of more than 30 California politicians who have expressed support for her candidacy including Compton Mayor Aja Brown and Culver City Mayor Jeff Cooper.

Kamlager-Dove was elected to the LACCD Board of Trustees in March 2015 which represents the largest community college population in the nation serving over 250,000 students per year. Kamlager-Dove elected president of the board in 2017 and was instrumental in expanding opportunities for local, small and diverse firms to access the district, establishing a pipeline between the district and the courts system, optimizing supportive services for students who were formerly in the foster care system and students who were formerly incarcerated.

Health issues have forced Sebastian Ridley-Thomas to resign from his 54th Assembly District seat. A special election will be held early this year to elect a replacement. (Courtesy photo)

“Sydney has demonstrated her full appreciation of what it means to be a skilled public servant by taking care of the day-to-day community needs of the people of the 30th Senate District that I represent. The voters of the 54th Assembly District already know Sydney. They can confidently be assured that Sydney will deliver for them when they elect her to represent them in our State Capitol. I wholeheartedly and forthrightly endorse Sydney Kamlager-Dove for 54th Assembly District in 2018,” Mitchell added.

Transgender activist and journalist Ashlee Marie Preston announced in a tweet on Dec. 30, that she plans to run for the 54th District seat as well. Last summer, the former editor-in-chief of Wear Your Voice gained national notoriety for being caught on video calling out Caitlyn Jenner for being a Donald Trump supporter.

Preston put out a release detailing her campaign priorities and her opinion on the needs of the district.

“As someone directly impacted by the issues that often diminish the quality of life, I have an acute understanding of which policies must be put into play in order to move progress forward for the constituents of the 54th District and beyond. I believe in prioritizing people over politics,” she said.

“We are more than poll percentage points; we are real people with real stories. I fully intend to continue honoring those experiences, and advocating for those who don’t have a seat at the table,” she added.

The day after Ridley-Thomas announced his resignation, veterans’ leader and advocate Steve Dunwoody announced his candidacy for the open seat and published an announcement on his website outlining his candidate agenda.

“I wish Assembly member Ridley-Thomas and his family prayers for his recovery, and sincerely hope he has years of good health, happiness and blessings,” Dunwoody said in a post on his website.

“As our campaign has grown, and gained support at a fast clip, we’ve seen people looking for new leadership. Our campaign is a home for progressives — women, people of color, the LGBT community, from the youth vote to seniors. It is also a campaign for all entrepreneurs, labor union members and independent voters looking for a home and a voice.

“We are building a broad based campaign to bring our strong progressive voices to Sacramento,” he added.

Dunwoody points to the importance of ending political corruption within the state and has received a number of endorsements as well from a list of lower-ranking local politicians and former Assembly members.

“In California, we have a unique opportunity to thwart Trump and to advance policies that will create an environment of justice,” Dunwoody said on his website. “But corporate and special interest money has flooded Sacramento. It’s preventing our elected officials from making good on their progressive rhetoric. Many of our representatives take dirty money and vote the wrong way when they think no one is watching.

“Enough is enough. It’s time to put people first,” he addcd,

Dunwoody is currently the California director of the Vet Voice Foundation of, a national organization of 500,000 veterans, family members and active military that works to use the voices of veterans to speak out on public policy issues such as the environment, health care, education, civil and LGBT rights.

Gov. Jerry Brown has not scheduled the special election for the district. The winning candidate will represent a district that includes Culver City, West Los Angeles, Crenshaw and Baldwin Hills.