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.