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Linda K. Jones
High Desert African American voters seek to send one of their own to California State Assembly on November 2nd
Sentinel Wire Service
Ever since the great African American migration of the mid-1980s to the late-1990s--a geodemographic shift that saw large numbers of families move from South Los Angeles to new homes in the High Desert and Inland Empire--it was only a matter of time before new voting patterns would merge and recently settled African American residents would begin to clamor for more progressive representation than is typically found in the traditionally conservative communities that had become their new home.
The first real glimmer of hope in the quest to establish a new African American political beachhead in regions to the north and east of Los Angeles emerged two years ago.
Linda K. Jones--a former South Los Angeles resident, elected school board member, career teacher and former licensed vocational nurse--moved to Palmdale with her husband and four daughters in 1996. In 2008, she mounted a strong campaign in her bid to win a state legislative seat representing the 36th Assembly District.
Despite her valiant campaign effort--bolstered by solid support from L.A. Democratic Party and African American state political leaders, and with Barack Obama running for President on the same ballot boosting Democratic votes nationwide--Jones fell short by a scant 4,661-votes out of 154,343 votes cast in the November 2008 general election.
Though Jones wasn't victorious at the ballot box, her campaign raised hopes of African American voters and supporters from Palmdale to Victorville. Jones' surprising political showing was widely regarded as a good progressive political door opener in the High Desert's traditionally staunch conservative GOP stronghold.
Jones garnered 48.3% of the votes cast in her race against her Republican Party opponent Stephen T. Knight. Before Jones, no Democratic Party nominee had ever come so close to defeating a Republican in 30-years.
On November 2, 2010, Jones seeks to unseat incumbent Assemblyman Steve Knight in a replay of their 2008 legislative race. Jones said she believes Knight has lost touch with the concerns of working families in the High Desert as he curried favor with hard-line GOP conservatives and entrenched special interests in Sacramento.
"Steve Knight voted against requiring maternity coverage in health insurance plans. Knight has voted against a bill that would require medical coverage for children with pre-existing conditions. Knight stood by silently when one big health insurance company sought to raise monthly health insurance premiums by a staggering 33%," Jones said.
"What as Steve Knight thinking?" Jones asked. She quickly answered her own question, "He wasn't thinking about us!"
Jones is pushing hard during the final two-weeks leading to Election Day. She has lined up major support from organized labor. She hopes to benefit from strong endorsements by key African American political leaders like Congresswoman Diane E. Watson and California Assembly Speaker Emeritus Karen Bass.
"We know Steve Knight hasn't been thinking about us for the past two-years he's spent in Sacramento. We're hard working High Desert families that have been hit hard by the recession. Our needs have been ignored by Steve Knight," Jones said.
"I will work to create new jobs in our High Desert communities. I will focus new attention on the needs of High Desert families that have lost jobs, lost homes to foreclosure, and who've lost hope." Jones stressed.
With little more than two-weeks before voters go to the polls, Jones wants High Desert voters--and African American voters in particular--to know what she is thinking.
"We didn't win in 2008, but we came close. I firmly believe we can win this race, if Democrats in the High Desert cast their votes. Go to electlindajones.com to become part of my 2010 campaign for new state leadership in the High Desert," Jones said.
If Jones wins, she would be the first African American state legislator elected by voters in a High Desert community. A victory by Jones on November 2 would be major political upset. For African Americans in the High Desert, a Jones win would add new meaning to the phrase: "There's no place like home."