Five UCLA alumni are running for Assembly District 54 delegate positions with the California Democratic Party.
Andrew Lewis, Lindsay Carlson, Isaac Bryan, Naomi Goldman and David Bocarsly are all candidates on the Grassroots Progressives slate, which endorses nine other candidates. A total of 38 candidates are running for the 14 positions in Assembly District 54.
The district includes Westwood Village, Culver City, Palms and other areas in West Los Angeles. Assembly delegate election meetings are held once every two years to elect seven women and seven men to represent the district they are registered as a Democrat in, said Lewis, a North Westwood Neighborhood council member. According to the California Democratic Party website, included with the group of seven men are any candidates who do not identify as female.
The elected delegates are tasked with promoting the party agenda, endorsing candidates for office, voting to endorse resolutions and ballot measures and electing party officials, including a new party chair and a presidential nominee, Lewis said.
Their slate platform focuses on affordable housing, immigration reform and criminal justice reform, Lewis said.
Lewis said some constituents are not aware of the elections because they are only for the Democratic Party, but that she thinks it is important to mobilize students because the elected delegates will be representing them on the state level.
Carlson, a senior counsel at the law firm Bowman and Brooke LLP, said the elections allow regular voters in the district to have a say in Democratic Party politics because the delegates are chosen by local residents.
Bryan, a policy adviser for the UCLA Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, added he thinks the elections are important because the chosen delegates decide the future of the party.
“We aren’t party insiders or bureaucrats,” Bryan said. “We are passionate community organizers that represent the interest of the neighborhood.”
Lewis said slates like the Grassroots Progressives gained momentum in 2017 when grassroots activists worked together to gain representation in the California Democratic Party Convention for the midterm election. These grassroots activists now represent a third of the convention voters.
Goldman, a principal at NLG Communications, said the slate takes pride in the diversity of their candidates who come from a variety of ethnic, generational and residential backgrounds.
The candidates said they hope to bring more community representation on issues regarding homelessness, health care, criminal justice and party reform.
Lewis said he hopes to bring affordable housing into the district.
Carlson said she hopes to make the party more inclusive and equitable via party reform and greater transparency. Carlson was a delegate in 2017 and is also running against two others for a position on the delegate executive board. The executive board manages the party beyond the convention, she said.
Goldman said she hopes to make the party more inclusive and diverse by pushing for a code of conduct to prohibit sexual harassment and discrimination.
Bryan said he plans to focus on criminal justice reform and address the issue of mass incarceration.
Bocarsly, a community liaison for California Democratic Sen. Ben Allen, said he aligned with all of the slate’s platform, especially its emphasis on providing health care for all, improving higher education opportunities and reforming the criminal justice system.
The five candidates said their experiences as students at UCLA helped launch their political careers. Bocarsly said his time as president of the Undergraduate Students Association Council in 2013 made him realize how connected higher education and state government are.
Carlson and Lewis added the connections they made at UCLA also helped further their career.
Voting will take place Sunday from 2:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. at Culver City Middle School. Any Democrat registered in District 54 is eligible to vote. Candidates will give speeches at 2:15 p.m.