The DSA-LA 2022 Primary Voter Guide
As socialists in Los Angeles, we believe that it’s important to contextualize the choices on our election ballots. Who are these candidates and how did they build power? What are the dynamics of the races they’re running in? Will their priorities build socialism, or at least help Los Angeles’ working class? Now you may have noticed we’ve written… a lot for many of these races. That's by design. We hope this guide will function as an educational tool to understand what it takes to bring working class power to the county, as well as help you fill out your ballot.
DSA-LA has endorsed three candidates this primary election: Hugo Soto-Martinez for CD-13, Eunisses Hernandez for CD-1, and Fatima Iqbal-Zubair for AD-65. We require our whole membership to vote to endorse a candidate, and an endorsement includes a commitment for the chapter to devote time and money to that campaign.
Otherwise, candidates named in the guide are recommendations: the candidate might not call themselves or be a socialist, but there are planks of their platform we believe will materially benefit the working class – especially in comparison to other candidates in their race.
You might also notice that a surprising number of these races are either literally or practically uncontested and that most of the candidates seem bland, hazily defined, and mildly corrupt. This is a consequence of our big-money political system that rewards machine candidates and incumbents, drastically hampering the democratic process.
We’ve chosen not to make recommendations in races where an incumbent is running against right-wing challengers and is expected to coast. We’ve got to keep building power to take on these forces of capitalism, and we must keep on organizing to make sure these candidates have viable challengers in the future. That being said, there are some races with candidates extremely worth voting for, and in many down ballot votes, your vote and the votes of your friends and family can make a big difference in our collective lives.
If you’d like to find out more about any of these candidates or races, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can either answer your questions, point you towards more information, or help you learn how to do this research yourself!
Table of Contents
City of Los Angeles
Mayor: Gina Viola
The Mayor of Los Angeles is the most powerful figure in Los Angeles city politics, proposing budgets, creating executive commissions and committees, and issuing emergency ordinances, and most importantly for our outgoing Mayor Garcetti, getting into thousands of photo-ops. In recent years, the office is mostly an end-of-the-line job for a politician’s time in politics, with former labor organizer and current scumbag Villaraigosa becoming a shill for Herbalife and occasional loser in bids for higher office, and James Hahn being appointed as a judge by Governor Schwarzenegger. Hopefully this is the end of Garcetti’s political career too, as his failure to address rampant sexual misconduct by one of his key allies is currently sinking his confirmation as Ambassador to India.
This race saw early announcements from establishment democrats: ex-cop Joe Busciano, outgoing and DWP scandal-ridden City Attorney Mike Feuer, current Downtown Councilman Kevin de León, and congresswoman for west and south Los Angeles, Karen Bass, as well as a handful of additional fringe candidates.
Through the first few months of the campaign, Feuer and Buscaino were vying to represent the predominantly-white conservative “law and order” constituency, while de Leon and Bass worked to build (center-)left coalitions. De Leon is a former CTA labor organizer, who in 2018 tried to unseat California’s most-senile Senator Feinstein from the left, and earned endorsements from a wide variety of mostly-Latinx elected officials, business interests, and labor unions. Karen Bass is a one-time socialist community organizer who was tapped as a potential Biden VP pick and brought in a wide variety of endorsements from the Black Democratic establishment, labor unions, and electeds from Mark Ridley-Thomas to DSA councilwoman Nithya Raman. Both of these candidates also sought to shore up support from the center, making overtures to law-and-order policies – de Leon baselessly accusing DSA-LA of “paying unhoused people” to stay on the streets and Bass committing not to cut LAPD staffing.
Then, billionaire mall-man, Rick Caruso changes his party affiliation from No Party Preference to Democrat (he was a Republican until 2012), push-polls the living daylights out of the city, and enters the race using tens of millions of his own money on a platform of hiring more cops, criminalizing unhoused people, and not releasing his full tax returns, despite running on a platform of “transparency and ethics in city hall.” Which is rich, because he was in charge during multiple egregious cases of sexual assault by USC doctors during his decade-long tenure as chair of the board of trustees. Caruso has tried to pretend to be socially progressive in his recent campaign, but he was a regular funder of anti-abortion politicians and has sucked up the entirety of the law-and-order constituency from Feuer and Buscaino with promises to massively increase LAPD funding. A Caruso mayoralty would hand even more municipal power to the wealthy interests that already run our city: developers, landlords, and cops.
Finally, two days before the filing deadline, community activist Gina Viola entered the race, running on an explicitly anti-carceral platform emphasizing banning sweeps, cutting cops, and making basic human needs into human rights.
We should fully expect that the general election will be between a right-wing reactionary billionaire and candidate, most likely Bass, representing the “progressive” multiracial status quo, but in the primary all socialists should vote for Gina Viola to support the radical transformation of our social order and carceral system.
City Attorney: Faisal Gill
The Los Angeles City Attorney is broadly responsible for the enforcement of city criminal policies, as well as providing legal advice and interpretation to city council. As with other elected attorneys, the office typically attracts centrist Democrats happy to prioritize punishing working class and unhoused people for minor infractions in the name of “law and order.”
The Los Angeles City Attorney Coalition, which DSA-LA is a member of, offers a brief outline of the powers that a progressive city attorney in Los Angeles could use to help working Angelenos. These powers include no longer prosecuting non-violent misdemeanors or anti-unhoused municipal codes and affirmatively prosecuting abuses of the capitalist class, like prosecuting wage thefts, polluting companies, and shitty landlords. The outgoing city attorney, Mike Feuer, is currently running for Mayor after spending the last few years zealously protecting the city’s right to aggressively sweep unhoused residents, a practice that repeatedly has been found by higher courts to be unconstitutional.
The field of leading candidates this cycle mostly fall within the archetype of law and order Democrats: two deputy attorneys in outgoing City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office (Richard Kim and Sherri Onica Cole), assistant US Attorney Marina Torres, one-time Republican mayoral candidate Kevin James, and on the “progressive” side, business lawyers Teddy Kapur and Hydee Feldstein Soto. All of these candidates should be considered various flavors of Los Angeles’ anti-working class status quo. The only candidate whose platform talks seriously about following the anti-carceral tradition of prosecutors like George Gascon and Chesa Boudin is Faisal Gill. Gill’s got a few warts – he’s a one-time Department of Homeland Security Republican who defected to the left after being spied on by the NSA for being Muslim, and his campaign is largely bankrolled by personal loans from his years as a business lawyer – but he’s running on an unabashedly pro-civil liberties and anti-criminalization platform with several prominent endorsements including Karen Bass, Ilhan Omar, and DSA-LA endorsed candidate Eunisses Hernandez.
City Controller: Kenneth Mejia
The City Controller is basically the city’s accountant, in charge of keeping track of where LA’s money comes from, where LA’s money goes to, and has the ability to conduct audits of how the city spends money. The audit authority is a very important component of the job, as the controller has the ability to determine how efficient spending is in city departments (such as the police and housing *wink*) and then recommend improvements for efficacy, showing what our tax dollars are ~actually~ used for.
In this race, we have a slew of folks from the Garcetti administration. Paul Koretz is trying to find another job in city government after being termed out in CD-5. He has such achievements as (1) completely failing to build new housing in his district while paying cops kick the unhoused populations off the streets, (2) caring more about animal adoptions in his district than he does housing people and (3) voting against even analyzing the *possibility* of reducing police spending.
Other viable insider candidates include: Stephanie Clements, running on a broad anti-corruption campaign (good!) that emphasizes cutting money from union contracts (not good!), David Vahedi, whose platform touts “buying new trash cans”, and Rob Wilcox, whose platform talks about rejecting establishment money from fossil fuels, developers, and police, and fighting insider corruption, which is too bad given his current position in City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office.
You should vote for Kenneth Mejia, a CPA who has twice run unsuccessfully for Congress on an unapologetically leftist platform, and emphasizes using the Controller’s office to reveal the ways LA’s government wastes money on sweeps and giveaways to developers when the same money could be used to help working people.
Already, his campaign has put out incredible digital tools to track city resources, and has shockingly managed to win the endorsement of the normally-conservative LA Times, who followed the endorsement by immediately putting out a hit piece about old deleted tweets. Conservative media, huh?
City Council District 1: Eunisses Hernandez
DSA-LA has endorsed and is actively campaigning to support Eunisses Hernandez in CD-1, a district that covers Glassell Park, Highland Park, Chinatown, Mount Washington, Echo Park, Elysian Park, Westlake, Pico Union, Koreatown, Angelino Heights, Lincoln Heights, and MacArthur Park. The incumbent, Gil Cedillo, came up through union organizing and was a champion for immigrant rights during his time in statewide government, but his decades-long tenure in CD-1 has found the district sold out to developers, pushing out much of the working class and communities of color who have lived in the district for generations.
To quote a letter our campaign working group wrote to Bernie Sanders asking him to rescind his 2021 endorsement of Gil: “Cedillo has actively enabled the very gentrification process that continues to push out and displace his district’s residents…In one such deal with developers, Cedillo approved a project for Atlas Capital Group, a New York-based real estate company, to build 725 units in Chinatown with zero units of affordable housing in 2019 (called College Station). Cedillo not only ignored the Mayor’s recommendation to set aside 5% of the building’s units for very-low-income tenants, he also ignored previous plans to mark 20% of the building for senior affordable housing.”
The district’s working class residents cannot risk another term under Cedillo, but Gil’s past history as a champion legislator for undocumented immigrants and continued “just good-enough” support for labor has prevented serious left challenges to his re-election… until now. Eunisses Hernandez is a longtime anti-carceral organizer who centers the needs of working class people in her history of work in the area and in her future agenda. Her platform includes housing for all through deeply affordable housing, investment in public services infrastructure instead of incarceration, environmental justice through more green spaces, and neighborhood-level care that meets the needs of the community. Hernandez, the daughter of immigrants, not only grew up in CD-1, but also has been a longtime advocate for social protections that challenge the violence of poverty. She has been a dynamic leader on the county-level, with a read on the pulse of the moment. Hernandez has championed important measures that divest from mass incarceration and reinvest millions of dollars into community-based services, housing, and support for young people.”
Vote Eunisses Hernandez to put a proud democratic socialist and dynamic abolitionist organizer in office.
Read more about Eunisses at: dsa-la.org/dsa-la-for-eunisses/
City Council District 3: No recommendation
More information coming soon
City Council District 5: Jimmy Biblarz or Scott Epstein
Four candidates are running for City Council District 5, a district of a whole lotta homeowners, but also a large population of students and workers at UCLA. This race has a lot of money flowing through it from those vying to become Paul Koretz’s successor: please see the City Controller entry for an incomplete list of Paul Koretz’s achievements)
On the establishment candidate end, we’ve got Katy Young Yaroslavsky, outgoing LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl staffer and daughter-in-law of long-time politician Zev Yaroslavsky. She’s endorsed by the LA Federation of Labor and liberal elected officials including Karen Bass and mostly falls on the “progressive in rhetoric, but status quo in action” spectrum of establishment politics, especially in her inability to condemn 41.18, the repeatedly-found-unconstitutional measure that the city uses to criminalize our unhoused neighbors. The person with the most money in this race is Attorney Sam Yebri, who is endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce and wants to increase the amount of police on our streets, despite claiming to stand for workers’ rights. Also, Yebri has publicly disavowed DSA-LA in a candidate forum, which was cool to hear tbh. We disavow him right back. However, these two candidates are the favorites to advance to the general.
In terms of candidates that might make things better in CD-5, we have Scott Epstein and Jimmy Biblarz, both of whom oppose 41.18 and offer care-first solutions for addressing the root causes of the homelessness crisis. Neither candidate is a socialist – both support municipal measures to criminalize the BDS movement, Epstein’s history is pro-YIMBY and pro-real estate (though CD-5’s high wealthy-homeowner rate makes it a district where those policies would be least odious), and Biblarz practically just came back from a decade away at Harvard and jumped into the race – but either is clearly a better option than the rest of the field. CD-5 is incredibly hostile to socialism, or even progressivism, as it is the home of many members of the capitalist class that the city’s status quo. For this race, we think Scott Epstein and Jimmy Biblarz best represent the interest of CD-5’s working class.
City Council District 7: No recommendation
More information coming soon
City Council District 9: Adriana Cabrera (Write-In)
The two candidates appearing on the ballot, Curren Price and Dulce Vasquez are two sides of the same coin. Both candidates are landlords. Both of their spouses either own or work at firms that have contracts with the city. Neither candidate is particularly honest. And you shouldn’t vote for either of them.
Curren Price is a typical labor-business incumbent, supporting measures like LA’s guaranteed basic income pilot program, and keeping solid endorsements from most major LA-area unions, always staying just barely to the left of center in our status quo city council. At the same time, he takes plenty of support from business interests, has consulted for several business associations, was named in the Jose Huizar corruption probe, and he has repeatedly failed to recuse himself from votes involving the clients of his wife’s consulting firm, stopping just short of the legal standard for misconduct. Plus, he’s a landlord.
Council District 9 is a district ripe for a transition in representation and working-class politics. Covering much of historic South Central and once a center of Black working class politics, its now supermajority working class Latinx and overwhelmingly voted for Bernie Sanders. When Price is termed out in 2026, it’s highly likely that the next councilperson for CD-9 will be Latinx and to Price’s left, particularly if Labor finds an organizer to run. And wealthy interests from the right wing of the status quo coalition are taking notice.
Enter Dulce Vasquez. Dulce Vasquez’s husband is an executive at a construction company that lists the MetroLink as one of its projects. She also has more than $10,000 in Airbnb stock, a frequent subject of city council motions on affordable housing. Do we think Vasquez could be trusted to recuse herself when her financial interests are up for a vote? Absolutely not. For starters, she lied on candidate filing forms, originally listing herself as an “educator,” but her one “education” experience is in “strategic partnerships” at an online university.
More damningly, after trying to appeal for DSA-LA’s endorsement in 2021, Vasquez started hosting fundraisers with former Republican mayor Richard Riordan. Her campaign has alternated between trying to evoke AOC comparisons and refusing to accept the label “progressive”, between calling for defunding LAPD and applying for a “diversity in national security” fellowship. Her donation records are filled with donations from Amazon’s public policy department, the director of the California Charter Schools Association, and people who work for companies with government defense contracts. One of her campaign’s highest-paid consultants is Michael Trujillo, who’s also serving on the campaign of wannabe cop mayor Joe Buscaino. With Republican millionaires, wealthy developers, and business interests pouring money to support a Latina candidate one cycle early against a Labor-backed incumbent, it begs the question: what kind of councilperson are these capitalist interests trying to buy?
Instead of abstaining from voting in this race or holding your nose and picking the least bad option, write in Adriana Cabrera, a Democratic Socialist and longtime socialist organizer in South Central. Adriana’s bid here as a write-in candidate is an extreme long-shot, but she absolutely deserves your vote.
City Council District 11: Erin Darling
CD-11, covering the westside down to LAX/Westchester became an open race when Councilman Mike Bonin decided not to seek re-election to prioritize his own mental health and his family’s well being. The political environment of CD-11 is toxic: before his decision to not seek re-election, Bonin had fought off two right-wing recalls over his opposition to militarized police sweeps and promotion of bike lanes and road diets. Though Bonin has not been perfect – it took the unrelenting work of organizing community activists for him to oppose police sweeps – he has regularly been one of the furthest left councilmembers, a notable achievement in the otherwise strongly mainstream-liberal Westside.
On this terrain—rising right-wing reaction to a services- and care-first approach to homeless outreach—do we see the CD-11 race play out. On the reactionary side, we have Allison Holdorff Polhill, a pro-charter former LAUSD Board aide, Traci Park, a management side labor lawyer, Jim Murez and Mike Newhouse, current and former presidents of the Venice Neighborhood Council, and Mat Smith. Every one of these candidates is vying to be the avatar for the recall-Bonin movement, on platforms of arresting as many unhoused people as it takes to stop our precious wealthy families from having to see poverty.
Greg Good, former member of the Garcetti administration and former director of LAANE, a pro-Labor nonprofit, entered the race as a political insider, trying to walk a “neutral” path and ensure that a labor candidate took CD-11 instead of an outright reactionary. But we all know neutrality is a lie in LA city politics: Good’s labor background is no guarantee of left or progressive policies, and his platform would still reintroduce 41.18 to the district. A Good win would be a shift from the left-progressive energy of Bonin to a labor-business neoliberal coalition.
When it turned out Good was actually bad, the Westside’s grassroots organizations needed to find a more Darling candidate, and identified Erin Darling, a civil rights lawyer who has defended the rights of protesters and workers. Darling’s campaign emphasizes permanent supportive housing, a tenant’s right to counsel, and actualizing a Green New Deal for Los Angeles. Erin Darling has received Mike Bonin’s endorsement as well as those of Isaac Bryan, the California Working Families Party, and ILWU - Southern California District Council, and is our best bet at maintaining a left-progressive councilmember in this affluent district. Vote for Erin Darling.
City Council District 13: Hugo Soto-Martínez
DSA-LA has endorsed Hugo Soto-Martínez, South Central Los Angeles born and raised and son of immigrant street vendors, who became a union organizer with UNITE HERE! Local 11 after helping his own workplace to unionize while he was still a student. Hugo is running in CD-13 on a bold, forward thinking plan which includes addressing homelessness by ending sweeps and instead embracing a compassionate organizers’ approach to service provision, transforming public safety, and making environmental justice a reality in our city.
Hugo is well positioned to oust longtime sitting councilmember Mitch O’Farrell if working people mobilize accordingly. As a regressive politician firmly in the hands of private developers and real estate, Mitch O’Farrell embodies the worst of Los Angeles politics. With about half of his money pouring in from real estate, the district will continue to lose existing Angelenos through rapid gentrification and hostile displacement. In the case of Echo Park Lake, this displacement meant the loss of dignity and life for unhoused residents who were subject to carceral punishment at his hands.
An active DSA member himself, Hugo will advance our commitment to achieve worker power, address the climate crisis through just transition, and radically re-orient power back to the people of Los Angeles. This opportunity to bridge existing gaps and integrate the struggles against police violence, the climate crisis, and labor exploitation is a chance we can’t afford to pass up. Read more about DSA-LA’s campaign for Hugo at dsa-la.org/hugo. There are several other candidates running to the left of Mitch, including former Bonin homelessness deputy Kate Pynoos and police abolitionist organizer Albert Corado, but Hugo’s history as a UNITE HERE organizer and democratic socialist offers an incredible opportunity to build a true left-labor alliance and political pole in one of Los Angeles’ most progressive districts.
Learn more about Hugo and get involved with electing him at dsa-la.org/hugo!
City Council District 15: Bryant Odega
CD-15 is an open race due to proud ex-cop and conservative councilmember Joe Busciano terming out and trying to win the “conservative pro-cop white reactionary” lane in the mayoral race. The district is mostly centered on the Port of Los Angeles and San Pedro, with a strange snaking shape up the 110 due to Los Angeles’ historic insistence on maintaining the port as an economic engine. This odd shape has created a district with impoverished black and brown working-class populations in Wilmington, Watts and South LA, wealthy conservative suburbanites in San Pedro and surrounding areas, and well-organized, but relatively conservative unionized port workers. Though Bernie won CD-15 in 2020, the district has historically brought relatively conservative, but pro-union, members to Council.
The currently leading candidate and anointed Joey Buckets successor is Tim McOsker, an excellent example of the contradictions within the Los Angeles labor movement. McOsker has worked for both UTLA, a relatively progressive union, and the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL), the most conservative recognized union in the city, whose interests are uniformly opposed to those of socialists and oppressed working class people. The LAPPL is spending nearly $100k to support his campaign. McOsker lists support from a few SEIU locals, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), but also the California Apartment Association and Eric Garcetti (look at those heightened contradictions!). He’s taken donations from Great Public Schools Now (a non-profit started by Eli Broad to stick more of LA’s students into charter schools), LA Jobs PAC (a PAC representing chambers of commerce), and a share of real estate developers. Not quite all of organized labor has gone in for McOsker however.
Former Harbor City Neighborhood Council president Danielle Sandoval has won the endorsements of UTLA, a few ILWU locals, and the California Democratic Party Chicano Latino caucus, and the LA Times. Sandoval is running on a “labor progressive” platform, which includes elements of left platform planks like strengthening public education and access to good union jobs, but also a strong emphasis on supporting small businesses and other liberal priorities. In another field, Sandoval’s background and platform could be strong enough to earn a DSA-LA recommendation.
This year, however, there’s a stronger socialist candidate to vote for. Bryant Odega is a working class renter, first-generation immigrant, DSA-LA member, and climate justice organizer with the Sunrise Movement running for council on environmental justice and a Green New Deal as the centerpiece of a broad socialist platform. Bryant is endorsed by Ground Game LA, Culver City Mayor Daniel Lee, Burbank Vice Mayor Konstantine Anthony, Gina Viola, and Black Lives Matter Organizer Baba Akili. Vote for Bryant Odega.
Board of Education District 2: Rocío Rivas
The LAUSD board is responsible for more than 600,000 students in 1,000 public schools. The country’s second-largest school district, LAUSD has faced a steady onslaught of attempted privatization by charter-school-advocating billionaires like Eli Broad and Reed Hastings, that guy from Netflix.
Board District 2, which covers the majority of central and eastern Los Angeles, has been represented by longtime pro-charter vote Mónica García. García’s anointed successor, María Brenes, is perhaps the prototypical example of the way the ostensibly-liberatory non-profit industrial complex is used by the wealthy to erode public services. Brenes is the Executive Director of InnerCity Struggle, a non-profit that advocates for underprivileged students and has some legitimately good work which is undermined by years of grant funding from the late pro-charter billionaire Eli Broad’s foundation and steadfast advocacy for privatized charter schools as a “solution” to underfunded public schools.
On the pro-union side, we have Dr. Rocío Rivas, formerly the Research and Policy Deputy for socialist school board member Jackie Goldberg, whom DSA endorsed in 2019. Rivas is staunchly pro-public education, having previously sought DSA-LA’s endorsement in 2019 before dropping out to support Goldberg, and working with DSA-LA on our “Green New Deal for Public Schools” campaign. Vote for Rocío Rivas.
Board of Education District 4: No recommendation
In LAUSD District 4, a district that covers the entirety of the westside, Nick Melvoin, the incumbent and a charter school supporter who is backed by billionaire school privatization interests, is running against two anti-vax, anti-mask candidates: Gentille Barkhordarian, a mother who has appeared criticizing the district’s COVID-19 policies on One America News, and Tracey Schroeder, a teacher fired for refusing a COVID vaccine. It’s all bad and we cannot possibly recommend someone here.
Board of Education District 6: No recommendation
LAUSD District 6 covers the San Fernando Valley, where incumbent and LAUSD Board President Kelly Gonez has presided over the LAUSD’s masking, testing, and pandemic safety policies, and voted to cut the LAUSD police budget by $25 million in the wake of the George Floyd protests. She got her start working in education policy in the Obama administration, where she was previously a steady pro-charter vote, but has moderated her position recently, keeping an open ear to UTLA and working with Jackie Goldberg to expand early transitional kindergarten. She’s got endorsements from UTLA, charter school executives, and Eric Garcetti, and is expected to win this race handily, which is why we are not recommending anyone in this race, especially since one of them was a cop.
Police union backed School Police Department Sergeant Jess Arana, should not come anywhere close to making decisions about public schools. Marvin Rodriguez, a Spanish teacher in LAUSD, is running a campaign as a Marine Corps “veteran” with a pro-public education platform. We couldn’t find much at all about Rodriguez’s campaign other than his bare-bones website. Without a clear alternative, there’s not much utility in voting against UTLA’s endorsement in this race.
Los Angeles County
Assessor: No recommendation
More information coming soon
Sheriff: NOT Villanueva
In 2018, the sheriff’s race was between the incredibly shitty incumbent Jim McDonnell, who proudly turned inmates over to ICE, and Alex Villanueva, a rank-and-file deputy dissatisfied with department leadership and who promised to stop collaborating with ICE.
We wrote back then “there are no good cops, and even fewer good sheriffs,” and boy were we proven right.
Since taking office, Sheriff Villanueva has “stopped collaboration” with ICE by making them wait outside the jails while sheriffs bring them inmates, reinstated his buddy and accused abusive stalker to the department, overseen his sheriffs shooting over 100 civilians, harassed journalists, halted internal investigations into the rampant and murderous deputy gangs, taken out paid ads targeting individual activists, baselessly attacked and then attempted to blackmail the LA Metro department, covered up deputy abuse of inmates immediately following the George Floyd murder, the list goes on and on. For some deep reporting on this truly depraved law enforcement department, check out Cerise Castle’s history of sheriff gangs, a history that has led Villanueva to directly and repeatedly harass her. There’s shitty cops and then there’s this dude.
With Villanueva’s establishment support vanishing, the various elements of Los Angeles’ status quo coalition are flailing to find a replacement. Villanueva kept support from the most opportunistic and viciously right-wing elements – the unions that represent rank and file sheriffs (who like being able to shoot civilians with impunity), Republican assembly members, and a ton of cops. Challengers include Cecil Rhambo, backed by many of the South Central Black establishment and accused (by Villanueva, so take it with a big grain of salt) of being in a sheriff gang himself, Robert Luna, who headed up the Long Beach Police Department and is backed by the LA Times as a pro-police reformer, and several other sheriff captains and deputies all trying to say they’ve got what it takes to fix the department. We even have Eric Strong running on a progressive reformer platform, but you’ll have to excuse us for being suspicious of rank and file sheriffs making big progressive reform promises.
Ultimately, we said it last time and it’s still true: there are no good sheriffs. We’re not making a recommendation, just make sure you vote and don’t vote for Villanueva.
Supervisor District 1: No recommendation
More information coming soon
Supervisor District 3: Henry Stern
If there’s anything less democratic than the Los Angeles City Council, it’s the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, with only five members overseeing more than 10 million residents. It’s also an incredibly powerful body of government, as shown by their ability to continue extending the COVID eviction moratorium. District 3 is currently represented by Sheila Kuehl, who has been a mainstay in California politics since 1994 when she became the first openly gay person elected to the California legislature. Since then, she has bounced from the State Senate to the Board of Supervisors, where she’s now termed out.
It’s a competitive race to fill her spot. The frontrunners are California State Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg, West Hollywood Councilmember Lindsay Horvath (who Kuehl has endorsed as her successor), and State Senator Henry Stern. All three have strong establishment political and labor support, with progressive organizations split between Horvath and Stern. Bob Hertzberg’s tenure in the Senate has recently included not showing up to vote to decarbonize California by 2045, excusing himself from a vote to give farm workers more ways to vote in union elections, and taking a lot of money from real estate and gas industries. Horvath lists endorsements from David Ryu and Joe Busciano, as well as a handful of unions and advocacy organizations, and her campaign filings have included donations from a few real estate developers.
While he’s not a socialist, Henry Stern is the most demonstratively progressive, recently introducing legislation to close Aliso Canyon gas facility by 2023, but also introducing a simple, yet nebulous piece of legislation intended to grant access to mental health treatment, but if interpreted the wrong way can make such treatment involuntary. Recognizing that municipal and county races can be decided in the primary with 50% of those voting supporting one candidate, our priority in this race is to block Hertzberg from 12 years on the board continuing to block climate progress and pro-worker legislation. Horvath, while supportive of progressive action in her city, may not have the infrastructure or the name recognition to successfully block Hertzberg. Henry Stern is endorsed by UTLA, Working Families Party, SEIU 2015, and SEIU 721, and in that we suggest you vote for Henry Stern.
Superior Court Judges
The Defenders of Justice Slate
Look: voting for judges has mostly been a complete mess. Voters have basically no meaningful way to evaluate which candidates are good or bad, seats frequently go uncontested, and the people who get elected are typically well-off prosecutors who’ve spent their careers putting poorer working-class plaintiffs in jail for minor offenses. In general, we do what research we can to find judicial candidates who aren’t ghoulish prosecutors.
In a rare development, however, a group of four progressive women lawyers are running together in a slate, calling themselves “The Defenders of Justice.” Their platform prioritizes care over punishment and opposing mass incarceration. Three of the candidates (Reitano, Lashley-Haynes, and Hancock) are public defenders, while the fourth, Park, was a union-side labor lawyer and progressive activist. Electing progressive judges won’t fix our ultimately broken judicial system, but it sure would help a lot of people to have these candidates overseeing their case instead of the ghouls who built their careers throwing people in jail. Vote for Anna Reitano for Office 60, Elizabeth Lashley-Haynes for Office 67, Holly Hancock for Office 70, and Carolyn “Jiyoung” Park for Office 118.
Office 60: Anna Reitano
Office 67: Elizabeth Lashley-Haynes
Office 70: Holly Hancock
Office 118: Carolyn “Jiyoung” Park
California State Senate
Senate District 20 - Caroline Menjivar
Covering a large swath of the San Fernando Valley, the newly redrawn SD-20 is an open seat between ostensibly two viable candidates. Daniel Hertzberg, is running to replace his dad, Bob Hertzberg, who is termed out and running for the vacated County Supervisor seat. Daniel doesn’t really have any political experience besides being the son of his dad and interning for the occasional congressperson or city councilmember, positions that he got probably because of his dad.
We think that a powerful ex-Speaker and Senate Majority Leader who's worked hard to block climate legislation raising over $600k (including donations from developers, the California Apartment Association, and the maximum from his abandoned campaign for state controller) should not be able to use his resources and network to elect his very underqualified son to his seat. We think you should vote for Caroline Menjivar, who’s not a part of a political dynasty, an EMT who supports healthcare for all, expanding access to childcare, and ensuring a green future for California.
Senate District 22: No recommendation
More information coming soon
Senate District 24: Uncontested
More information coming soon
Senate District 26: Uncontested
Senate District 26, previously Senate District 24, covers the eastside as well as portions of central LA - Koreatown, Echo Park, Silverlake, some of downtown, and Atwater. It’s currently represented by María Elena Durazo, who succeeded current-mayoral-hopeful Kevin de Leon. Durazo is a force of nature in Los Angeles politics, though this is her first elected political position. A full accounting of Durazo’s history at the center of the rising Latino labor movement in the 80s, 90s and 2000s would require a whole book, but suffice it to say she was one of several organizers who transformed the LA labor movement into the multiracial powerhouse it is today, by organizing low-wage immigrant workers with the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (now UNITE HERE Local 11), receiving an award at a DSA Los Angeles dinner in 1993. In any case, she’s unsurprisingly been a champion for labor in her time in the Senate so far, and her reputation is legendary enough that nobody is bothering to challenge her this year. If we had to criticize, Durazo’s stayed a little too loyal to her older allies who have become more conservative tools of real estate and landlords interests (we mean you, Gil Cedillo), and she’s taken some pretty bad actions on housing, like condemning the Reclaim Our Homes reclaimers. Bummer.
Senate District 28: Lola Smallwood-Cuevas
Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, a community organizer, is the clear choice in this solid blue district, which covers Culver City, Palms, Mar Vista, West Los Angeles, Crenshaw, Leimert Park, South Los Angeles, parts of Mid-City, the neighborhoods surrounding USC, and parts of Downtown LA (phew! Many neighborhoods!). The seat is now open because Sydney Kamlager is running to replace Karen Bass in Congress.
Lola co-founded the Los Angeles Black Worker Center and currently serves as project director at the UCLA Labor Center. Her experience with LA’s organized labor informs her priorities: prioritizing public employment, establishing universal healthcare through taxing the rich, upholding a fundamental right to housing. The other viable Democrat is former real estate broker and current attorney Cheryl C. Turner, who has some progressive policies, but is board president of a landlord org, the Santa Monica Redevelopment Corporation, and has close ties to real estate, as seen by her campaign’s donations.
Yeah, no thanks to that. Go with Smallwood-Cuevas.
Senate District 30: Henry Bouchout
SD-30 covers Whittier, Downey, Norwalk, Walnut, and northern parts of Orange County, like Brea. Of the viable candidates in this race, there isn’t really a clear progressive candidate here, with both viable candidates coming from military and law enforcement backgrounds.
The incumbent, Bob Archuleta, is one of the top four state senate races that have received the largest amount of law enforcement money. On top of that, he takes money from oil, “missed” a vote on a law requiring carbon neutrality in California by 2045 (which is a year, uh, much too late in the first place. Also, “missing” a vote is a cowards’ “no”), and opposed outright a bill allowing tenants’ right to organize (probably because the California Apartment Association looooooves him). On top of that, he currently has a sexual harrasment lawsuit against him filed by a former staffer, which is currently making its way through the courts.
Henry Bouchot, not a socialist by any means, is the most viable of the candidates that has a shot of getting Archuleta out of office. He is a Whittier City Councilmember whose campaign priorities include making four-year education free and making universal healthcare a reality in California, while some of his planks, like his public safety and housing, seem like bandaid solutions to structural issues. Still, we think you should vote for Henry Bouchout to get a harasser and oil-money-taking incumbent out of office.
California State Assembly
Assembly District 34: No recommendation
More information coming soon
Assembly District 39: Andrea Rosenthal
AD-39 includes Palmdale, Lancaster, and parts of San Bernardino County, including Victorville. AD-39 is a brand new district from the 2020 redistricting cycle and now a majority Latino district. This race has ostensibly two viable challengers: Andrea Rosenthal and Juan Carrillo. Carillo is the sole Democrat on the Palmdale City Council and has the backing of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, as the sole Latino in this race.
The other viable candidate is Andrea Rosenthal, a community organizer for Strength Based Community Change, a “social change agency dedicated to activating individuals, families, and communities to fight for social justice and equity.” She touts endorsements from a handful of unions, including California Federation of Teachers, SEIU, and NUHW, a healthy smattering of Democratic clubs, delegates, and legislators, and the California Legislative Black Caucus.
With the large and growing multiracial working class populations of Palmdale and Lancaster, this district is ripe for a future of more strident socialist politics, but in the meantime a community organizer with labor support is pretty solid, which is why we suggest a vote for Andrea Rosenthal. The third Democrat in this race is Steve Fox, who was in the State Assembly from 2012-2014, when he sexually harassed his staffers and the Assembly had to pay $200k to settle the lawsuits. Since then, he’s been trying and failing to win an election to get back into the Assembly.
Assembly District 40: Pilar Schiavo
AD-40 is a newly redrawn district that largely takes what used to be Republican-held AD-38 and places it into a Democrats +11 space, covering Santa Clarita and the northwest San Fernando Valley, including Northridge and Granada Hills.
Two Democrats are running to unseat Republican incumbent Suzette Martinez Valledares, who takes money from noted pro-Trump coup-attempter Kevin McCarthy, oil companies, Amazon, and real estate. In the field, we have Annie Cho, a small business owner, who has no platform or priorities on her website, besides some vague mention of “protecting democracy,” but boasts endorsements from some classic upholders of the LA status quo, such as City Council President Nury Martinez, former city councilmember David Ryu, and Assemblymember Mike Gipson.
We also have Pilar Schiavo, an advocate for workers who represented the California Nurses Association as part of a Health4All coalition. Pilar has long advocated for broad left policy positions like Medicare for All, a living wage, and housing for all, positions which are driving the Cho camp to dig up old tweets and accuse her of being “too radical” for the district. Socialists know that materialist left policy positions are not only necessary, but also more popular than centrist waffling. Vote for Pilar Schiavo.
Assembly District 41: Uncontested
More information coming soon
Assembly District 42: No recommendation
Assembly District 42 includes the eastern portion of Ventura County and the wealthiest western regions of LA County – Malibu, Calabasas, Agoura Hills, and the like. Jacqui Irwin is the incumbent, and her husband is the COO of law-enforcement-loving privacy-invading Ring. And Jacqui tried to weaken privacy laws to help the company. We don’t imagine we have a ton of DSA-LA members in this district. But if you are one such class traitor, sorry but you don’t have any good choices to vote for here. Also increase your monthly dues: dsausa.org/recommit
Assembly District 43: Uncontested
More information coming soon
Assembly District 44: No recommendation
Assembly District 44 includes Glendale, Burbank, La Canada Flintridge, and parts of Los Angeles including Los Feliz and Little Armenia. The district has been represented by Laura Friedman since 2016, who moved up from being a Glendale city councilmember. In those six years, Friedman has been a stalwart progressive vote, championing safe bike lanes and pedestrian connections, co-authoring SB562 for California single payer, and fighting for various environmental protections. In this district, a heavily-Bernie-voting district, the only candidate running against Friedman is a random Republican – she should win easily and how you vote here honestly doesn’t matter much, which is why we’re not making a recommendation. We wish Laura hadn’t delayed the funds for high speed rail, and in such a Bernie-heavy district, it’d be cool for our assemblymember to cultivate a more socialist brand. Laura, if you’re reading this, send us an email; we’d love to build a democratic socialist caucus in the assembly with you.
Assembly District 46: No recommendation
More information coming soon
Assembly District 48: Uncontested
More information coming soon
Assembly District 49: No recommendation
More information coming soon
Assembly District 51: No recommendation
More information coming soon
Assembly District 52: Mia Livas-Porter
AD-52 covers parts of central, northeast, and LA’s eastside, including neighborhoods such as Glendale, Echo Park, Silverlake, Los Feliz, Atwater Village, Highland Park, El Sereno, and Glassell Park. Incumbent Wendy Carrillo has been serving the district since 2017, when Jimmy Gomez vacated his seat for the House of Representatives, and has not had to deal with a viable challenger until this year.
Carrillo’s time in office has been marked by a fair amount of issues, including an official reprimand from the Speaker of the Assembly over inappropriate physical contact as well as one of her staff members, George Esparza, making inappropriate sexual comments. Esparza was also federally indicted in May 2020 for his involvement in the Jose Huizar bribe crimes, which he continued after he started working in Carrillo’s office. And, further disrespecting the working people she is supposed to serve, Carrillo was seen in Hawaii in November 2020, during the start of a coronavirus surge.
Still Carrillo’s past as a communications staffer with SEIU has helped her establish support among most of LA’s organized labor, and she has a few labor priorities, such as preventing workers from being misclassified and ensuring workers can keep their jobs after taking paid family leave. Chalk another one up to the labor-business status quo coalition.
Challenging Carillo is Mia Livas-Porter, a Democratic Party activist and longtime organizer for gun control. Livas Porter isn’t a socialist, but her platform includes many key left priorities including universal healthcare in California, ending mass incarceration, and a Green New Deal for California. We think that AD-52 deserves more than what Carrillo has brought over the last few years and that’s why we recommend you vote for Mia Livas-Porter.
Assembly District 53: No recommendation
Assembly District 53 covers Pomona and some parts of western San Bernardino county. Incumbent Freddie Rodriguez, in office since 2014, loves to not vote. If not voting for progressive issues can be counted as a vote against progressive issues, then he is pro-surveillance, anti-Green New Deal, anti-worker protection, pro-prison industrial complex, anti-tenant, and against public banking. He’s about as progressive as Rahm Emanuel but with less conviction and more union endorsements. His only opponent is a GOP candidate running her campaign off of a 500-follower Facebook page which talks a lot about “protecting abused children”, with abuse in this case being defined as “wearing a mask”. Nobody worth voting for here.
Assembly District 54: Uncontested
More information coming soon
Assembly District 55: Isaac Bryan
Isaac Bryan is basically guaranteed to win this race, seeing his only challenger is a Republican in a very safe blue seat, but we wanted to write a recommendation for him, reflecting on his short time in office. Replacing Sydney Kamlager after she left to serve in the State Senate, Isaac has stood for the working class of his district, that includes Culver City, Palms, Mid-City, West Adams, Crenshaw, Baldwin Hills, Ladera Heights, Leimert Park, Jefferson Park, West LA, Westwood, and Century City.
Founder of the UCLA Black Policy Project, he’s voted on such legislation that supports protecting those deemed eligible for prison release from being transferred to immigration detention, establishing a Fast Food Sector Council to set industry wide standards on wages, working hours, and other working conditions, and prohibiting the use of injurious and life-threatening projectiles or chemical agents by law enforcement agencies when dispersing protests. We join DSA-LA endorsed candidates Eunisses Hernandez, Nithya Raman, and UTLA in saying reelect Isaac Bryan.
Assembly District 56: No recommendation
More information coming soon
Assembly District 57: Uncontested
More information coming soon
Assembly District 61: Tina McKinnor
So, for this race you’ll have two different elections to vote for: the General for a Special Election to fill the last two months of the seat Autumn Burke vacated, as well as a primary election for November. It’s annoying, but at least you’ll be voting for the same candidate twice, and that candidate is Tina McKinnor.
AD-61 covers Venice, Marina del Rey, Westchester, Inglewood, Hawthorne, and Lawndale. Tina McKinnor is a longtime political activist, currently serving as Civic Engagement Director with LA Voice, with roots in her district She supports single-payer healthcare, ending oil drilling in neighborhoods, and opposes efforts to further criminalize homelessness.
Both McKinnor and her most viable challenger, Robert Pullen-Miles, previously worked in Autumn Burke’s office, which is maybe a sign that they’re not outrageously far apart, but Pullen-Miles is worse. Currently mayor of Lawndale, he doesn’t seem to have any concrete policy points (and definitely none that would be considered “progressive”) and has taken money from the California Real Estate PAC, a bunch of hotels, and fossil fuels. The clear choice here is to vote for McKinnor.
Assembly District 62: Maria Estrada
For the third time, Maria Estrada is running against Speaker of the Assembly, Anthony Rendon in AD-62. This district covers Huntington Park, South Gate, Lynwood, Paramount, Bellflower, and Lakewood. Maria Estrada first ran against Anthony Rendon in 2018, after he tabled CA’s single-payer healthcare bill SB562 in 2017.
Estrada lost her 2020 race against Rendon by less than 10 points 53.7% - 46.3%. She has voiced support of universal basic income, investment in education and infrastructure, public banks, federal jobs guarantee, abolishing ICE, banning private prisons, protecting unions, stopping the expansion of charter schools, but there are reasons to be concerned about her candidacy. Her campaign’s web presence now seems to be running entirely via Facebook, has no campaign finance on file for 2022, and in the past has gotten into trouble with other progressive activists for public posts praising anti-Semitic preacher Louis Farrakhan and for other spats with activists.
To repeat our 2020 voter guide: “Still, electing Estrada, long-shot though it may be, would be a clear repudiation of the Democratic Party’s most corrupt, centrist tendencies, and that is sufficient reason to suggest voting for Estrada.”
Assembly District 64: Elizabeth Alcantar
The new boundaries of AD-64 cover Bell Gardens, Downey, Santa Fe Springs, Norwalk, La Mirada, and La Habra. There is a wide field of candidates vying for this open seat: Ana Valencia, Norwalk Vice Mayor, Blanca Pacheco, mayor of Downey, and Robert, Cancio, Norwalk-La Mirada school board member.
But, the choice is obvious in AD64: Elizabeth Alcantar is the best candidate to fight for working-class folks. Alcantar served as mayor of Cudahy when Delta Air Lines dumped 15,000 gallons of jet fuel over dozens of schoolchildren, after which she successfully secured free treatment for those impacted. Alcantar is a community organizer who seeks elected office to continue fighting for her community.
The most viable challenger, Blanca Pacheco, on the other hand, has accepted contributions from problematic sources like the CA Association of Collectors and General Motors, and has coalesced endorsements from many in the California status-quo coalition. In a district where economic opportunities and environmental justice are often denied, we need someone who will prioritize the needs of real people over corporations and their financial interests. As a Working Families Party candidate, Alcantar has endorsements from major labor unions, the Los Angeles Labor Federation, and SEIU CA. That’s why we’re recommending you vote for her.
Assembly District 65 - Fatima Iqbal-Zubair
The new 65th assembly district comprises the communities of: Watts, Compton, Harbor City, Wilmington, parts of South Central, Willowbrook, parts of San Pedro, and Fort MacArthur. This district includes people in some of the most population dense communities in the state. In addition to this, the district houses the highest rates of air pollution and environmental toxins that include poor water quality and high mortality rates.
What has the incumbent Mike Gipson done to address these issues? He has abstained or voted against environmental solutions that would most directly affect the people of district 65. During the pandemic, Gipson voted against essential workers and received money from healthcare companies. He’s also taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from Big Oil and Real Estate Developers that continue to harm our kids’ health and sell out our neighborhoods.
AD-65 has the opportunity to elect the unafraid and unbought Fatima Iqbal-Zubair, a Muslim immigrant woman of color and democratic socialist STEM teacher who takes zero corporate, police, developer or fossil fuel money. Fatima ran a DSA-LA endorsed campaign against Gipson in 2020, and is running and working with DSA-LA again, in a redrawn district. She is ready to stand up to the special interests that Gipson has failed to hold accountable. That’s why she’s got the support of Our Revolution, Ground Game LA, Sierra Club, Sunrise Movement LA, CBE Action and US. As an educator in the Compton Unified School District, Fatima is already working on the ground in South Central for our chapter’s Green New Deal for Public Schools priority resolution.
Fatima has seen and learned firsthand about the issues in the district and is prepared to advocate for the families in AD-65 and across this state on day one. We need everyone (cousins, tias, tios, grandma, grandpa) in every household in the district eligible to vote to cast their vote for her.
Want to get a DSA-LA member elected to the California State Assembly? Learn more about Fatima and our efforts to get her in office at dsa-la.org/fatima
Assembly District 66: No recommendation
More information coming soon
United States House of Representatives
23rd Congressional District: Derek Marshall
The majority of this district is in San Bernardino County, but we’ve got a tiny bit of it in Northeast LA and there’s a candidate that holds many of DSA’s values, so we’re going to talk about it.
This district is currently held by Republican Jay Obernolte, who is a businessman, video game developer, and once member of the California State Assembly. In Congress, Obernolte has voted to overturn the 2020 election, voted against COVID relief, and generally just refuses to let the government help working class people and instead just goes along with the far-right cesspool that is the GOP (so, classic Republican). However, he has recently been outraised in fundraising by Derek Marshall, an ex-Bernie Sanders staffer and current DSA member who supports Medicare for All, a living wage for all, and the Green New Deal. To all who are reading this in the Northeast outskirts of Los Angeles County (or folks hanging out in the high desert, hello!), vote for Derek Marshall.
Oh, and join Inland Empire DSA.
26th Congressional District: No recommendation
More information coming soon
27th Congressional District: Ruth Levanos
CA-27 is one of the last GOP-held districts in Los Angeles county (this district was previously called CA-25 before the 2021 redistricting process), covering Santa Clarita, Simi Valley, and Northern Los Angeles County–parts of Los Angeles county that are rapidly diversifying. Because this is a district to flip, this race has been highly scrutinized, with lots of money flowing into it.
Mike Garcia won this seat when he defeated Christy Smith in a special election upon Katie Hill’s resignation from congress. Garcia voted to overturn the 2020 election, opposes abortion, and basically falls in line with the fascist Republican agenda. Smith, who used to be a state assemblyperson, is running once again to defeat Garcia, and boasts endorsements from the establishment wing of the California state government, your usual suspects of Dem clubs, and the LA County Federation of Labor. Her record in the assembly and during her campaigns for Congress has consistently been that of a “girlboss moderate”, championing liberal feminist causes while opposing policies like Medicare for All.
Ruth Levanos is a teacher, chapter chair for UTLA, Simi Valley councilperson, and is running on a strong left-liberal platform that supports Medicare for All, building a green economy with union jobs, ensuring access to public education. It’s going to be hard to overcome the inertia of establishment Dems pretending that Christy Smith is the only candidate in the race, but there’s no question that Luevanos has the superior platform.
28th Congressional District: No recommendation
More information coming soon
29th Congressional District: Angélica Dueñas
This San Fernando Valley district includes North Hollywood, Van Nuys, Panorama City, Pacoima, San Fernando, and Sylmar. This is the third rematch Dueñas faces against incumbent Tony Cárdenas, running as a Green Party candidate against him in 2018, and then a Democrat in 2020.
In the most recent General Election, Angelica got 43% percent of the vote to Cárdenas’ 56%. Cárdenas, an ex-Los Angeles City Councilmember as well as State Assemblymember, is your classic establishment, pro-business Democrat, taking money from PACs that represent the airline industry, big Pharma and Healthcare, and AIPAC. He’s pretty tight with Joe Biden positions-wise: his website states that Healthcare for All is a platform plank of his, but Medicare for All is nowhere to be found in his explanation.
Angélica Dueñas, born and raised in the SFV, was inspired to run for office by Bernie Sanders, and much of her platform aligns with what he’s campaigned on: Medicare for All, a Green New Deal and jobs guarantee, repealing Taft-Hartley. The choice is clear here for the SFV: vote for Angélica Dueñas.
30th Congressional District: Maebe A. Girl
Incumbent Adam Schiff is one of the most well-known members of Congress due to his leadership role in the impeachment process and all things Russiagate. Unfortunately, his power comes at the expense of his district – which includes Hollywood, Silverlake, Glendale, and some of Echo Park – where he is known for ignoring issues that actually matter, like homelessness. He is a reliable vote in support of any defense budget increase or military escalation—not surprising since he takes in loads of money from the likes of Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman, and he continues to support ICE, for which DSA-LA protested his office in 2018. Schiff occasionally throws out progressive bromides, claiming to support Medicare for All and Green New Deal, but warmongering is his true passion. Well, that and doing appearances on MSNBC or CNN.
Instead of Schiff, you should vote for Maebe A. Girl, a drag queen who ran against Schiff unsuccessfully in 2020, and supports defunding the US imperial war machine to fund a Green New Deal, housing and Medicare for All, and proudly models her politics after AOC and Bernie. Don’t worry about the rest of the names on your ballot, the other candidates in this heavily-Democratic race are all random nonviable Republicans.
31st Congressional District: No recommendation
More information coming soon
32nd Congressional District: Shervin Aazami
Brad Sherman has repped the SFV for the entire life of a Gen Z-er (since 1997). Wow, don’t you feel old thinking about that! And in those 25 years, Sherman has been a consistent war hawk, voting for increased military spending and has been a fervent AIPAC supporter. He bristled at any sort of Medicare expansion… until 2019, when he joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus to head off a primary challenge. Now he slaps his name onto Medicare for All bills, but has never acted with any sort of political backbone to get healthcare for all passed (or really, any bill passed). Despite all this, he keeps winning his seat handily.
But now in 2022, Sherman faces a heavily redistricted seat and new challengers. One is Aarkia Rhodes, a #YangGang teacher who’s really into bitcoin and fundraising a lot of weird techbro money off of it. The other is Shervin Aazami: a socialist SFV native who spent years in DC working for the CDC and National Indian Health Board before returning to the valley. Aazami’s platform centers (and names!) “the working class”, includes Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and heavily emphasizes divesting money from war to public resources. The odds aren’t great – CA-32 is one of Los Angeles’ most conservative congressional districts, and Sherman has shown a frustrating ability to make just enough faux-left overtures to evade primary defeat, but you should definitely support that defeat by voting for Shervin Aazami.
34rd Congressional District: David Kim
This race, covering downtown, Koreatown, Chinatown, Northeast LA, and East Los Angeles, is a rematch between Democratic Socialist immigration lawyer David Kim and former labor organizer and incumbent Jimmy Gomez. David Kim narrowly lost to Gomez in 2020, and the leftist challenge sent Gomez scrambling, going out of his way to align himself with the Squad. In this most recent congressional term, Gomez has been a lead author and co-sponsor of left congressional priorities like Medicare for All, Green New Deal, eviction moratoriums, and legislation to tax the rich, even voting against the most recent proposed military budget and immigration enforcement. But symbolic votes and bill co-sponsoring is easy: Jimmy is still taking tons of money from real estate, healthcare corporations, and big banks.
With no danger of losing the seat to a more right-wing candidate, you should absolutely vote for David Kim, who is refusing to take money from these corporate interests, and is running as a proud Democratic Socialist to stand for workers in the House. David Kim has been a consistent fighter for Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, getting big money out of politics, and abolishing ICE. Unlike Gomez, David rejects all corporate money and is running a grassroots campaign, and has led on establishing a left platform, while Gomez seems to trail behind when pushed. The district has changed somewhat to favor Gomez since the 2020 election, but with Kim’s excellent result in the 2020 general election and continued engagement with grassroots left politics, use your vote for an even stronger alternative.
This blurb was updated on May 9 to reflect that Jimmy Gomez did not vote against Iron Dome funding. He voted in favor.
35th Congressional District: No recommendation
More information coming soon
36th Congressional District: No recommendation
More information coming soon
37th Congressional District: Daniel Lee
The 37th district includes Mid City, some of West LA, and the northern portions of South LA. It’s currently represented by Karen Bass, but she has opted to run for Mayor instead. The clear frontrunner to replace her iis the thoroughly-Establishment Sydney Kamlager, who’s endorsed by every center-left elected in the county and basically all of organized labor. While in the assembly, Kamlager voted against renter protections, public banking, helped clear the way for the gentrifying Clippers arena in Inglewood, before endorsing billionaire Mike Bloomberg for president in 2020 (ew).
In addition to an array of small-money non-viable candidates, Kamlager is being challenged by former LA Councilwoman Jan Perry, lefty media platform Young Turks co-founder and “Epic Politics Man” Michael Shure, and Culver City Mayor Daniel Lee. Jan Perry was on the losing fight of a split within the status quo coalition when then-Council President Herb Wesson drew her out of her council district, and though she still has enough establishment connections to pull in over $200k in donations and some elected endorsements, she hasn’t won elected office in a decade.
You should vote for Democratic Socialist Dr. Daniel Lee, the only candidate in this race who understands that we need to fight inequity from the root. Lee became the first African-American Culver City Councilmember in 2018, and has been a DSA-LA member for years. His platform includes divesting pension funds from corporate landlords, reallocating overfunded police budgets for community services, abolishing ICE, phasing out fossil fuel production while helping workers transition to clean jobs, Medicare for All, and has been endorsed by DSA as an active member in a previous unsuccessful bid for California State Senate. Meanwhile, Sydney Kamlager’s donors include AT&T and real estate firms in this campaign, plus Blue Shield, Airbnb, and Facebook for previous races. Kamlager may know how to talk about progressive issues, but it certainly doesn’t mean she’s willing to do what it takes to stop corporate greed from hoarding resources and leaving the rest of us with table scraps.
38th Congressional District: No recommendation
More information coming soon
43rd Congressional District: No recommendation
More information coming soon
44th Congressional District: No recommendation
More information coming soon
United States Senate
We recommend voting for the Left Unity Slate candidate, John Thompson Parker, for the full-term U.S. Senate seat. He’s the only socialist candidate running for this office and the only candidate calling to defund the police and cut military spending.
Moreover, Parker is the only candidate to stand with DSA in opposing U.S. sanctions on Cuba, military bases in Japan, weapons in Yemen, arms race against China, and attempted coups in Venezuela. Like DSA, he opposes U.S. escalation in Ukraine and Eastern Europe and calls for an end to NATO expansionism. He had the courage to organize protests against Israeli government attacks on Palestinians. This May he’s been in Ukraine and Russia on a fact finding trip, similar to his trip to Iraq before the Iraq War to report on what the U.S. media isn’t covering. As U.S. intelligence whistleblowers on Iraq are saying, we are now at serious risk of global nuclear war.
We should note that the incumbent, Alex Padilla, has moved left relative to his positions when he was a state senator. He now supports the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. However, he doesn’t call for making major cuts in spending on cops or the military. Although Parker’s views aren’t the same as DSA’s on all issues, voting for him is a way to signal to Padilla that there’s support for moving more to the left.
Confusingly, there’s also a separate race for the U.S. Senate, to fill the remainder of former Senator Kamala Harris’s current term. In this second race, the only candidate in that contest who isn’t conservative on cops and other issues is Dan O'Dowd. He’s a tech billionaire who cites corporate accountability advocate Ralph Nader’s famous book, Unsafe at Any Speed, when raising concerns about the safety of self-driving vehicles. We agree: Elon Musk sucks.
Ahhh, life in a forty-million person one-party state. The sheer number of votes required to win office statewide, combined with the deliberations of the California Democratic party machine have given us incumbents, mostly Newsom-appointed, in nearly every statewide race. They’re mostly not facing serious primary campaigns either from within the party or from the Republican Party.
So, how should you vote? For a good portion of these statewide races, we’re mostly putting recommendations for the “Left Unity” slate of candidates, put together by the minor Green and Peace and Freedom Parties. They’re running on a shared platform emphasizing public banking, single-payer healthcare, electoral reform, and taxing billionaires.
We’ll be blunt: they have very little chance of winning. However! Your vote in most of these primaries may affect who gets to lose to the incumbent in the general election, or whether the incumbent wins in the primary outright. So with that in mind, you may as well vote for the most left candidate available, to see what appetite there is for third-party, left-wing candidates, in case one of them can break through to the general and use the platform to spread some good ol’ ecosocialist propaganda. Could be cool.
Gavin Newsom, or “Gruesome Newsom” as the right-wing recallers call him, just defeated his recall handily, with almost 62% of voters voting against the recall and saving us from Governor Larry Elder (shudders). We also would like this moment to remind you about this photo with his ex-wife, and current Donald Trump Jr. fiance, Kimberly Guilfoyle:
In 2018 we wrote about why you shouldn’t trust Gavin’s progressive campaign promises, and his governorship has mostly borne that out. He’s passed a handful of semi-progressive half-reforms, and entirely failed to fulfill those that could actually offer transformative reforms, like advancing a true eviction moratorium or requesting a federal waiver to explore a California single-payer healthcare system.
Newsom neutralized numerous progressive proposals last year with a stroke of his veto pen, including stopping evictions from nursing homes during the pandemic, Tenant right to counsel/provide lawyers for renters, allowing mail in ballots for agricultural worker unionization drives, making it easier for unhoused people to sign up for Medi-Cal, and measuring the climate impact of transportation funds And he abandoned his purported support for single payer healthcare as soon as he couldn’t blame Trump for blocking it.
On the rest of the ballot, you’ll get your typical array of clowns and jokers looking to waste some time on a pay-to-run-for-office scheme or just hoping to drive some business when people Google their names.
The only well-funded opponent is State Senator Brian Dahle, endorsed by the state GOP. Representing northeastern California (aka “state of Jefferson”, aka DEEP Trump country), Dahle is running on a typical California Republican platform – cut all taxes, arrest homeless people, and worship cops. Not great.
Fortunately, there’s a socialist community organizer with decades of experience running against him. The Left Unity Slate candidate is Luis Javier Rodriguez. He’s a famous Chicano author and the former Poet Laureate of the City of Los Angeles who founded Tía Chucha’s Centro Cultural in Sylmar. He supports CalCare, a phase out of fossil fuels, and an end to mass incarceration, among other issues.
Lieutenant Governor doesn’t do a lot except have a bully pulpit and serve as backup to the Governor. Basically, it’s California’s Vice President.
Incumbent Eleni Kounalakis is the daughter of a Sacramento-area real estate developer who’s a major Democratic donor She then ran some of her dad’s firms and then with no prior political experience (but a lot of wealth, ahem) got herself appointed as US Ambassador to Hungary. She then won the Lieutenant Governor position in 2018 against a labor-backed State Senator from eastern LA county with a ton of real estate money. She’s almost certainly going to win again, and probably in the primary too. Even with that incumbency advantage, she isn’t looking to do anything exciting. She isn’t campaigning on CalCare or free college.
The Left Unity Slate candidate, Mohammad Arif, supports Medicare for All and free college education, which is something the Lieutenant Governor can influence because of its ex officio seat on the University of California Board of Regents.
Secretary of State
The current Secretary of State, Dr. Shirley Weber, is an appointee of Governor Newsom and faces no viable opponents. Although she supports voting rights, another role of the office is to oversee corporations and LLCs, which includes many charter schools. In her previous role as an assemblymember, Weber was one of only two Democrats to not vote for AB 1505 in 2019 to empower districts to evaluate charter school applications based on economic impact. She was one of only four Democrats to not vote for AB 1507 in 2019 to grant districts more leeway in evaluating charter school applications. She also voted against AB 1478 to require charter schools to get permission from local school districts to operate, showing a pattern of siding with charter schools, not with oversight.
Charter schools are bad. All my homies hate charter schools.
Weber’s highest-fundraising opponent is Republican Rachel Hamm, who’s raised $140,000 from her YouTube channel with videos about how Biden stole the 2020 election. Grifters gonna grift.
The Left Unity Slate candidate, Gary N. Blenner, wants to use the Secretary of State’s role in overseeing elections to support and expand ranked choice voting. His campaign ad says “you don’t have to hold your nose voting for Democrats who aren’t progressive.” You know what? He’s right. Vote Blenner.
The State Treasurer is an extremely boring position: the responsibilities are almost entirely administrative, at least for now. Maybe if the state moves forward with a California Public Bank (assemblyman Miguel Santiago introduced a now-passed bill to study it last year), then it could get interesting.
Incumbent Fiona Ma was a relatively good assemblymember before she got elected Treasurer in 2018. She’s almost certainly going to win again, despite being accused of sexually harassing a former staffer (which she denies). She’s endorsed by the California Democratic Party and is a member of the Council on Inclusive Capitalism.
You should vote for Left Unity’s Meghann Adams. She’s a 15-year anti-war activist, a San Francisco socialist bus driver and the president of her local union. Also, buses rule.
The California Democratic Party’s choice, Ricardo Lara, claimed to support Medicare for All by authoring SB 562 when he was a legislator, but after he was elected as Insurance Commissioner, he flipped, with insurance companies giving him campaign money. While he’s been doing nothing to support CalCare, the LA Times exposed how he was caught collaborating with an insurance company that donated to his campaign.
His top challenger, San Francisco Democratic Assemblymember Marc Levine, has garnered a significant amount of money and endorsements to unseat him, so he’s likely to make the runoff. While he’s not been caught in a scandal like the incumbent has and thus might be the less problematic candidate in the runoff, his legislative record gives cause for concern. Not only did he have a pattern of not voting for charter school accountability bills in 2016, 2018, and 2019, he voted against a bill that would have mandated employer-funded insurance coverage of delivery drivers, AB 1360, which raises concerns that he would side with employers vs. workers on questions of insurance coverage.
Another challenger, Nathalie Hrizi, is on the Left Unity Slate. She supports Medicare for All, rather than the current system of insurance companies, and she is edits a socialist feminist zine, Breaking the Chains. It is very important to have “zine-maker” representation in elected office.
State Board of Equalization: No recommendation
More information coming soon
The current Attorney General, Rob Bonta, has done a reasonable record of supporting progressive causes. There are two Republicans trying to beat him, Nathan Hochman and Eric Early, and a former Republican, the notorious Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, who is running an active campaign with significant fundraising.
We’re strategically recommending you vote for the Left Unity Slate candidate, People’s College of Law professor Dan Kapelovitz. A vote for him could take advantage of the split among the conservative candidates and potentially shut all of them out. Bonta is virtually guaranteed of making the runoff, but if each of these current and former Republicans split the vote, by voting for Kapelovitz, there might be a chance we could stop all the conservatives from moving forward and posing a possible threat to Bonta in the runoff.
Controller: Malia Cohen
We find ourselves in a bind over the Controller’s race. Only one Republican, Hoover Institution staffer and LA Times-endorsed Romney 2012 alum Lanhee Chen, is running, with four establishment Democrats – anti-union political consultant Steve Glazer, incumbent LA City Controller and noted cop-lover Ron Galperin, self-funding anti-choice opportunist and Monterey Park City Councilmember Yvonne Yiu, and Board of Equalization member and SF Police Commission President Malia Cohen.
Mathematically, this primary is a question of “which Democrat gets to beat Lanhee Chen.” Yiu ducked a symbolic vote for a resolution supporting abortion rights in Monterey Park, Galperin wants more sworn officers on the street, Glazer called for the Legislature to ban strikes by BART and other transit workers before running for Senate, while Cohen, while moderate in her own City, still led the successful effort to make City College of SF free. We don’t have good choices here, folks, but Cohen’s the best of a very bad lot.
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Marco Amaral
The State Superintendent of Public Instruction is in charge of overseeing a public school system that has over 9,000 schools and more than seven million students. Along with the California Department of Education, the Superintendent is responsible for student achievement, recruiting and supporting teachers, and monitoring school districts’ compliance for accountability. They are also responsible for questioning why Principal Skinner’s hamburgers are called steamed hams, despite the fact they are obviously grilled. (We are now being told this is just the responsibility of Superintendent Chalmers on The Simpsons.)
When we last voted for this position in 2018, it was a big battle between the pro-Charter school lobby and public school backers. Narrowly, the public school side won out, electing Tony Thurmond. Now, the charter lobby is largely absent from this race, and all the right-wing, reactionary candidates in this race are deeply unviable (and some are… very strange). Thurmond’s tenure has largely dealt with administering public school in the time of a pandemic, where most of the calls about masking, vaccines, etc. have been made by Governor Newsom’s office anyway. Policy-wise, Thurmond’s tenure has been mostly inoffensive, albeit that it was reported that his office was a “toxic” place to work and his deputy superintendent did not actually live in California.
While Thurmond has the benefit of incumbency, endorsements, and name-recognition in this race, Marco Amaral is running on a progressive, working class centered platform. He believes that education workers should be paid a $25 per hour minimum wage, removing school police from campuses, free public college and trade schools, and recognizing that public education is tied to our fight for a Green New Deal. With no danger of tipping the scales to a privatizer, we think you should vote for Marco Amaral, a Special Education teacher who will stand up for public schools, students, and our teachers.
City Council: Karen Kwak
Glendale has a city council-manager style of municipal government, where five council members are elected for basically part-time jobs, while the city manager’s office oversees much of the direction of the city’s programs. The city council, however, does appoint the city manager. Glendale also doesn’t have council districts, so you will be choosing up to three people for at-large seats on your ballot here, even though Glendale has a similar population size as Salt Lake City.
The three incumbents up for re-election are all from the same zip code, homeowners in North Glendale. DSA-LA thinks you should mark Karen Kwak down on your ballot. Karen is an active organizer with the Glendale tenant’s union, and is one of two renters running in this election. As a city with 67% renters, the majority of whom are rent burdened, Karen will be a vital voice on city council to advocate for the working class, on a council where issues from renters often go unheard.
School Board, Trustee Area B: Ingrid Gunnell
The pandemic has laid bare the importance of education and schools as a public good—from providing meals for kids and the community, to ensuring that teachers have enough resources in the classroom as well as a liveable wage to provide an engaging and inclusive curriculum.
In Glendale Area B, we have two candidates: Lerna Amiryans, a leader of the Glendale PTA, is running on “safe and secure schools,” a campaign plank that has garnered support from both the Los Angeles School Police Association and the Glendale Police Officers Association. The clear choice in this race is Ingrid Gunnell. Ingrid is an experienced educator, a leader in UTLA and will stand for the needs of both workers in schools and students in Glendale. Ingrid has supported DSA-LA’s Green New Deal for Public Schools campaign, recognizing that education—in its infrastructure, curriculum, and labor—is integral to ensuring our planet’s habitable future.
Community College, Trustee Area 3: Steven Gibson
Community College, Trustee Area 7: Alton Wang
Strategically, Pasadena and its neighbors are the anchor for right-wing power across the county. The last two Republican County Supervisors - Mike Antonovich and Kathryn Barger - have lived in the SGV and been bolstered by voters in the Antelope Valley, while the Rubio sisters - oil and charter schools' favorite LA Democrats - are based further east in Baldwin Park. While we're facing off with a clearly Democratic machine in places like LA, the "bench" in Pasadena, San Marino, Arcadia, and along 210-10 corridor - is open for a new, progressive, and energetic candidates who can (by supporting unions, investment in Green New Deal programs, and modeling progressive governance in smaller settings) make space and set good examples for winning candidates and campaigns city wide.
Pasadena City College, in particular, is ripe for this. The faculty have issued a vote of no confidence in their President-Superintendent, their existing board has overseen accreditation trouble and enrollment drops over the last 20 years, and some of their incumbents are reacting by parroting fascist talking points about voter fraud and glorifying Trump as a “wall against socialism.” Bernie 2020 and AB 1400 organizer and comrade Steven Gibson and Arcadia #StopAsianHate activist and union-endorsed Alton Wang are running not simply to drag Pasadena out of this morass, but to model ethnic studies investment and GND funding as a tool to improve our schools - a massive pilot program for the progressive change our cities need. We’re asking you to vote for DSA-LA comrade Steven Gibson and progressive ally Alton Wang to illustrate that we’re not going to leave public money to fascist clowns just because nobody’s paying attention.