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Political Signal for the 59th Assembly Race: Bye-Bye to Politics as Usual

URBAN PERSPECTIVE - The political radar is on in South LA. Eyes are directed toward the candidates who are seeking the vacant California 59th Assembly District seat- Greg Akili, Raul Claros, Daymond Johnson, and Reginald Jones-Sawyer. Residents are sending a message that they are saying bye-bye to ‛politics as usual’.
This election is going to be quite different than elections in the past. Residents are looking to be strategic with their vote and are empowering themselves through voter education sessions to make smart political decisions.

South LA has seen vacant political seats as give-away placeholders for any candidate who saw the area as an opportunity to move in and launch a political career. Candidates take up residency, develop a few relationships, seek key endorsements, and take a few pictures with prominent leaders to advertise in their solicitations.

The old political establishment for entry into office is gone. There is a paradigm shift to support candidates who truly represent and reflect the values of the community. “We have to vote for a candidate who speaks to our issues and addresses our concerns. We can’t vote for people who appear to have the best or most endorsements. We must vote for the one with character; and select a leader our community can be proud of,” Najee Ali of Project Islamic Hope points out.

Residents are looking for a candidate who can fight for them in Sacramento from the community’s perspective to stop cuts to education, housing, and senior services.

“The 59th District has enormous needs and challenges such as a serious lack in quality jobs, health services and funding for our schools. The State Assembly plays a major role in these areas. It is vital that voters choose a candidate that has a demonstrated history with working with residents and other stakeholders to create solutions,” says Koyaki Kwa Jitahidi of MA’AT Institute for Community Change.

Like Jitihadi, residents think the same. Micheline Wilcoxen, a resident in the 59th District, shares “a representative of the 59th District should have an in-depth understanding of the unique challenges that are faced by its residents.”

The next person for the 59th District will likely possess the qualities of Congresswoman Karen Bass, the former Assembly Speaker who succeeded in winning the 47th Assembly District without support from prominent leaders in 2004.

South LA residents are looking for a representative who has labored in the area, engaged in grassroots organizing, and fostered open public dialogue with them.

Jitahidi conveys, “We need a fighter who will demand resources and justice for the people, not another career politician type only concerned with their paycheck. That is the only way South LA residents will get the things they want and deserve from the State.”

The political shift has occurred and the signal is clear. South LA residents are looking to support a candidate from within.

(Janet Denise Kelly offers more than a decade of accomplishments in the housing and nonprofit sector. Janet brings valuable insight in the areas of community and economic development. Additionally, she brings knowledge regarding the leadership and management challenges faced by large and small nonprofits that are struggling or growing organizations. She blogs at

Tags: Janet Denise Kelly, politics, politics as usual, South LA, 59th Assembly District, 59th Assembly election, State Assembly, Karen Bass

Vol 10 Issue 1
Pub: Jan 3, 2011