By T. A. Hendrickson
For voters in Northeast Los Angeles, the primary on March 3 spans the electoral extremes: There’s the local race for City Council in Council District 14 and the nationally important Democratic presidential primary.
In between are four other races of importance to NELA, encompassing four incumbents and seven challengers. Here’s a rundown of those races and the 11 candidates who are vying for your vote:
U.S. House of Representatives: Jimmy Gomez (D), who has represented NELA’s 34th congressional district since 2017, is facing four challengers: David Kim (D), an attorney who lives near MacArthur Park and is a member of the MacArthur Park Neighborhood Council; Frances Yasmeen Motiwalla (D), a political organizer and nonprofit executive who lives in El Sereno; Keanakay Scott (D), a writer and activist who lives in Koreatown, and Joanne Wright (R), a former teacher and real estate broker who lives in Palm Springs.
Jimmy Gomez is out front in terms of endorsements and fundraising, a circumstance that has drawn criticism from opponents who have pledged to avoid corporate donations.
California State Assembly: Wendy Carrillo (D), who has represented NELA’s state Assembly district 51 since 2017, is running unopposed for reelection.
L.A. County District Attorney: Jackie Lacey, who has held the office since 2012, is facing two challengers. George Gascón is the former D.A. of San Francisco and a former LAPD Assistant Chief; Rachel Rossi is a former public defender and criminal justice policy expert. The race has shaped up as a contest over approaches to criminal justice administration and reform, with Lacey’s moderate style and record contrasted with her opponents’ progressive records and proposals.
L.A. Unified School Board, District 5: Jackie Goldberg, a former L.A. City Council Member and state Assemblymember backed by the L.A. teachers union, is defending the seat she won in a landslide in 2019. Her challenger is Christina Martinez Duran, an educator, administrator, auditor and educational consultant for both traditional and charter public schools.
In the races for U.S. Congress and L.A. County D.A., a candidate must win more than 50% of the March primary vote to avoid a runoff in November between the top two vote getters. The District 5 school board race, with only two candidates, will be settled in the March primary.
The Boulevard Sentinel asked each of the candidates to complete this sentence: “I am a better choice than my opponent(s) because………”. We asked incumbents to outline the achievements of their tenure to date and their goals if reelected. We asked challengers to highlight the achievements that have prepared them for office and their goals if elected.
Here are their answers:
U.S. House of Representatives
I am a better choice than my opponents because:
As a resident of Eagle Rock, I’ve had the honor to represent our community in Congress for the past two and a half years. During that time, I’ve taken on the tough fights and won. I have introduced and cosponsored legislation to make healthcare available to all, expand paid family leave, combat climate change, increase resources for affordable housing and homelessness programs, and protect immigrant communities. My legislation to make the federal grant reporting process more transparent, efficient, and accessible to everyday Americans was signed into law.
Most recently, my colleagues elected me to serve as the Vice Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform. In this role, I will continue to hold the Trump administration accountable to the American people and the Constitution. That’s why I’m the only candidate endorsed by the California Democratic Party, Sierra Club and the California Labor Federation. I once again ask for your support. / jimmygomezforcongress.com
I am a better choice than my opponents because:
(1) unlike the incumbent, I do not accept donations from corporate interests/PACs like banks, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare companies and developers.
(2) I know firsthand what the daily struggle is like in current times to make ends meet, having been a small business owner and having worked full-time as a free attorney in a bad economy, while driving for Lyft/Uber every night throughout the next morning so I could pay my rent – a reality that most career politicians cannot relate to.
(3) I am a local neighborhood council board member/organizer who knows what issues are pressing to our families/communities.
(4) I will fight to eradicate poverty by providing every U.S. citizen a universal basic income of at least $1,000/month, which Martin Luther King, Jr. was pushing for around the time of his assassination; Medicare for All; Free Public College and Vocational School Education; Reversing Climate Change; Getting Money out of Politics; Ending Homelessness and more. / davidkim2020.com
Frances Yasmeen Motiwalla
I am a better choice than my opponents because to achieve lasting solutions to climate change, housing, healthcare and education, we need representatives like me who aren’t funded by special interests. My priorities will match our community’s needs – not the needs of rich donors and lobbyists who aim to increase their wealth while others suffer.
As a community organizer for the last eleven years, I’ve had many thousands of one-on-one conversations with Angelenos. They’re tired of increasing rents, stagnant wages, and underfunded schools. They’re tired of endless wars and inaction on the catastrophic threat of climate change.
As Representative, I’ll work every day to deliver solutions to these problems, and without accepting money from the fossil fuel industry, private prisons, or insurance and pharmaceutical companies that would aim to weaken my efforts or stop me. My door will always be open to constituents, and together we will make our nation an equitable place for all. / fym2020.com
I am a better choice than my opponents because I have personally experienced many of the hardships that afflict members of our community. After a childhood in foster care, I aged out of the system into nearly a decade of chronic homelessness. Despite being continually employed, I know what it’s like to live on the razor’s edge of poverty. But through every hardship I always maintained hope and worked for a better tomorrow – not just for myself, but for those around me, as well. Where some may have given up, I fought harder – even when the stakes were frighteningly high and I had the most to lose. I understand how difficult it is to ask for help, and how important it is for those who make decisions and policy to understand, from the heart, what is needed to create an inclusive community.
In Congress, I will prioritize issues that define our country’s humanity, including affordable housing, Medicare for All, the New Green Deal, a clear path to citizenship and the end of ICE. / keanakayforcongress.com
I am a better choice than my opponents because my experience is broad-reaching and my only interest is to represent the residents of Los Angeles, CA34, not special interests or corporate donors.
My first priority in Congress would be to use the leverage of the Federal government to solve homelessness: I would write a Bill to house homeless veterans in vacant buildings at the West L.A. Veterans Home. I would work with Dr. Ben Carson at HUD to acquire a vacant wing of L.A. County General Hospital. I would treat homelessness as a mental health issue, which means compelling people who cannot help themselves to get help.
The savings that would result from solving homelessness would help pay for my other goals: to reduce taxes, create jobs, encourage small business, improve education, promote sustainable energy and update the infrastructure. I would fight to protect our country against socialism, open borders and universal healthcare. I know the pitfalls of socialism from living and teaching in Algeria for two years and am watching what open borders is doing to Europe.
Thank you for your consideration. / joannewrightforcongress.com
California State Assembly
(Incumbent, running unopppsed)
It is a privilege to serve as your Assemblymember representing the 51st Assembly District. Soon, you will be receiving your vote-by-mail ballots or info on where to vote. I would be honored to have your support and continue the good fight in Sacramento.
In the past year, my office secured an additional $50 million in the state budget to ensure After School Programs remain open for over 400,000 students across California as well as $500K in the State Budget to develop a plan to revitalize the Bowtie Parcel, an 18-acre State Parks open space adjacent to the L.A. River in Glassell Park.
We also approved an additional $650 million to help homeless Californians.
As we embark upon 2020, I remain committed to improving the lives of the people in our communities and tackle the tough issues like housing, homelessness and public safety.
Your vote is important on all levels, from City Council, to the State and the Presidential. Make it count! / a51.asmdc.org
L.A. County District Attorney
I am a better choice than my opponents because:
In my eight years in office, I have worked to keep L.A. County safe from violent and dangerous criminals, while shepherding groundbreaking reforms to our criminal justice system.
As D.A., I’ve pioneered historic mental health efforts, diverting those with mental illness out of jails and into the mental health system, fought sex trafficking and financial elder abuse, pushed to ban private prisons and reform our cash bail system, and cracked down on fraudsters and polluters.
I’ve established a Conviction Review Unit to assess claims of innocence based on new evidence and initiated a plan to provide free training to first responders on how to de-escalate incidents involving mentally ill people.
As the only candidate in this race who has ever prosecuted a case, I know how to navigate the difficult balance of keeping our community safe and instituting necessary criminal-justice reforms and hope to continue that difficult, but necessary work. / jackielacey.com
I am a better choice than my opponents because under my leadership in San Francisco we incarcerated 1/4th the number of people per capita that Los Angeles does and saw violent crime drop, while the current DA’s overreliance on incarceration has coincided with a nearly 30% increase in the number of reported violent crimes in L.A. County since 2012, according to data from the California Department of Justice.
Simply stated, I have, and if elected I will once again, run a more effective, more efficient organization that doesn’t indiscriminately use our most expensive intervention at untold cost to taxpayers and the fabric of our communities.
What’s more, while DA Lacey opposed and obstructed the implementation of major reform initiatives in the past 10 years, I’ve been writing and advocating for them. We need 21st century tools and solutions, and can no longer rely on dated notions of crime and punishment that have unintended consequences for all involved. / georgegascon.org
I am a better choice than my opponents because I am the only candidate who has seen the other side of the system as a public defender in both federal and state criminal courts in Los Angeles.
I am also the only candidate who has practiced in federal court, providing expertise on both local and federal law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies that intersect in our County.
I am also the only candidate who has worked on criminal justice policy in Washington D.C., where I worked with both law enforcement and criminal justice reform groups to draft the largest national criminal justice reform bill signed into law in history – the First Step Act of 2018.
My combined litigation and policy experience uniquely positions me to reform L.A.’s broken criminal justice system. If we want a new vision of justice, we need a new kind of prosecutor. / rachel4da.com
L.A. Unified School Board, District 5
I am a better choice than my opponent because I know from personal experience what it will take for all of our LAUSD students to reach their full potential and because I have a demonstrated, decades-long track record of fighting for public education and working families.
I was a public school teacher and reading specialist for 16 years before I went on to serve on the School Board, the City Council, and in the State Assembly.
I have been unwavering in my calls to increase funding for public education, and I will not stop until our State representatives deliver. California is the world’s fifth richest economy. There are 157 billionaires here who pay almost nothing in taxes. There is no excuse for why New York spends $29k per pupil while we spend $16.5k.
I am the only candidate who will tell you unequivocally that the time has come to tax the great wealth in this state and re-invest in our children. / jackiegoldberg.org
Christina Martinez Duran
I am a better choice for students and families in the LAUSD Board District 5 race as my career has been focused on students’ academic achievement. I am not a career politician, but rather a career educator with expertise in financial audits and bringing transparency of operations to the forefront.
As an educator with three teaching credentials, including advanced credentialing, I am committed to increasing the academic performance of students by ensuring that more funding reaches our classrooms and is not lost to bureaucratic processes. I will request audits of programs, services, and contracts.
In addition, I want to empower teachers and welcome parents into their children’s learning environment by providing parent outreach programs.
My goals are to raise the academic standards and gains for our kids to support their academic growth and eventually move them into higher educational learning. My candidacy is about serving students – not saving a political seat to serve special interests. / drduranforkids.com
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T.A. Hendrickson, a native of Eagle Rock, is the editor of the Boulevard Sentinel, and a former member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times. Hendrickson is committed to local news reporting and to finding a way forward for local news outlets in today's challenging media markets.