Wednesday, March 20

Editorial: Sebastian Ridley-Thomas clear choice for 54th Assembly district


Sebastian Ridley-Thomas possesses the right mix of state policy expertise and vision for the 54th Assembly district to act as an effective representative for the area in the California State Assembly.

As a young, energetic candidate with experience as a policy expert on Los Angeles-specific and statewide levels, Ridley-Thomas will act as a strong champion for UCLA as its own entity, and not simply as an arm of the University of California.

Further, his promise to continue efforts to promote Covered California, California’s Affordable Care Act program, particularly by enrolling greater numbers of young residents, as well as his firm grasp on infrastructure development and plans to improve transportation options in the district make him a particularly promising candidate.

Among Ridley-Thomas’ strengths is an understanding that the vitality of higher education institutions, specifically UCLA and the West Los Angeles College, in the 54th is central to guaranteeing the broader economic and social health of the area.

In an interview with the editorial board, Ridley-Thomas said he sees UCLA and the West Los Angeles College, each with their own vocational and academic strengths, as a combination with promising returns for infrastructure development and job creation in the district.

If, as Ridley-Thomas said he hopes, the 54th district can retain its graduates and provide them jobs in areas such as construction and engineering, for example, the district as a whole will stand to prosper.

Ridley-Thomas also spoke to the board of the importance of building greater exposure of UCLA’s stature as a premier research university and bolstering its academic mission by encouraging the establishment of endowed chairs at the university and improving state financial aid offerings such as Cal Grants.

Ridley-Thomas already possesses more experience in the state politics than either of his competitors, former Culver City mayor Christopher Armenta, Olympic Park Neighborhood Council President John Jake and independent write-in candidate Dr. Morry Waksberg.

Ridley-Thomas previously worked in the offices of former State Senator Curren Price, where he tackled issues including small business improvement, taxation and infrastructure, and currently holds a post as Senior Deputy for Education, Economic Development and Healthcare in the 9th Council District of Los Angeles, where Price is councilmember.

Confidence in Ridley-Thomas’ familiarity with state politics are reflected in his endorsements, which include Gov. Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, as well as Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz, whose council district includes UCLA, and State Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), who formerly held the Assembly seat in the 54th District.

This board believes Ridley-Thomas can provide a unified voice for the district’s interests. If elected, we hope he will demonstrate a willingness to collaborate closely with UCLA administration and student lobbying efforts to build a strong presence for the university in Sacramento.

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  • Bazley

    All UCLA students need to vote in this election (and others) to show how influential the student vote can be and to send a signal to our newly elected representative that UCLA students demand that UCLA’s interests are being represented in the state assembly

    The polling place closest to UCLA is at the AGO (Alpha Gamma Omega) Fraternity house at 515 Landfair

    Get out there and vote!

    • AnOski

      Yeah, for Armenta. At least he’d have a clue as to how to do the job.

  • Informed Voter

    “As a young, energetic candidate with experience as a policy expert on Los Angeles-specific and statewide levels, Ridley-Thomas will act as a strong champion for UCLA as its own entity, and not simply as an arm of the University of California.”
    This is very problematic thinking – the UC system is not a series of independent entities. We fail and succeed together, as a unit. Picking and choosing aid to specific schools isn’t going to get us anywhere positive as a whole. Plus, what does “a strong champion for UCLA” even mean at the assembly level? It sounds like this sleaze ball who is trying to get elected simply regurgitated some nice buzz words to the DB staff to get the endorsement.

    “Ridley-Thomas also spoke to the board of the importance of building greater exposure of UCLA’s stature as a premier research university and bolstering its academic mission by encouraging the establishment of endowed chairs at the university…”

    Assembly members have close to zero power over establishing endowed chairs. Endowed chairs come from wealthy donors to the university, not state funding.

    • John T

      > “the UC system is not a series of independent entities.”

      The different UC campuses might not be independent, but they do have some degree of autonomy, and this degree of autonomy has been rising for decades. This 2012 Daily Californian [1] summarizes this:

      “In recent years, increased campus autonomy has been at the forefront of discussions about the future of the UC system. In 2008, the UC Office of the President cut its budget by $56.7 million, over half of which was saved by transferring programs from the office to campuses. And in January, UC San Francisco outlined a proposal that would afford that campus more financial and governing autonomy from the UC system.

      Historically, efforts to obtain more autonomy for UC professional schools have fallen short. The UCLA Anderson School of Management made the most headway after it developed a proposal for increased self-sufficiency. However, in part due to faculty opposition, progress has since stalled.

      But the history of the devolution of power from the university to campuses stretches long before the past few years. Before 1952, the position of campus chancellor did not exist. Academic Senates were not delegated to individual campuses until 1963.”

      You might notice that the article itself is actually about a proposal by the Cal chancellor last year to essentially strip control of capital project approval (e.g. building construction), academic programs, and salaries from the UC Regents.

      Obviously there are both proponents and opponents of this proposal (and the “devolution of decisions” in general). One main point of contention is that such decentralization would disproportionately benefit large campuses like Cal and UCLA, at the detriment of the smaller UC’s.

      In any case, though a single State Assemblyman might not have that much influence over the UC, what Ridley-Thomas is saying (i.e. “strong champion for UCLA as its own entity”) are more than just “nice buzz words to the DB staff.” It actually means he has a stance on this issue.

      [1] http://www.dailycal.org/2012/04/23/birgeneau-campus-officials-propose-to-increase-campus-autonomy/

      • AnOski

        Which means nothing given his lack of jurisdiction. Which doesn’t surprise me considering that he’s practically just graduated from college and held a few low-level jobs prior to running for this position.
        He shouldn’t have any idea of what he would be doing, and, by the sound of what he’s saying, he doesn’t.