Governor Gavin Newsom has called for a special election to be held on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, to fulfill the currently vacant 54th Assembly District Seat. The series of special elections which feels like musical chairs, started in November, when now Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, won the seat to replace outgoing Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Following Mitchell’s historic election onto the now all female Board of Supervisors, the California Senate seat she previously held, became vacant. Shortly after Mitchell resigned and transitioned into the Supervisors seat, Assemblymember Kamlager-Dove announced her bid to fill Mitchell’s vacated Senate seat. Kamlager-Dove easily cruised to victory in the March 2 election, with almost 70% of the district’s votes in the special election. By winning the special election, Kamlager-Dove became the only African American woman in the California Senate, where she joined Senator Steve Bradford as one of only two African Americans in the California Senate. With Kamlager-Dove’s move to the Senate, her 54th Assembly seat is now vacant and could now possibly be filled in the May 18 election, if any of the current candidates running can garner over 50% of the votes. If none of the candidates can garner 50% of the vote, a runoff would occur sometime in the Summer of 2020.
With Sydney Kamlager-Dove now moving over to the California Senate and with the appointment of former Assembly Member Shirley Weber to Secretary of State, Autumn Burke is the only African American woman now in the California Assembly. Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision not to appoint an African American woman to fulfill Vice President Kamala Harris Senate seat, leaves only one African American woman in the California State Senate and only one African American woman in the California Assembly. Several community residents, as well as political, labor, and community leaders see filling the vacated 54th Assembly seat with another African American woman as a mandate-in-order to keep the balance of representation somewhat equal (there are currently eight African Americans in the California Legislature, six men and two women).
“The strides that woman have made in securing a voice in politics, both locally and nationally, has been unprecedented in the past few years. But we cannot rest on our laurels; we cannot afford to go backwards. The perspective, the voices, and the issues that Black women like former Senator Holly Mitchell and former Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager-Dove brought to the forefront cannot be diminished. We still need that voice in Sacramento; we still need that voice to help address the issues of working moms, of working families, of quality affordable health care, quality affordable childcare, or how to address homelessness and how to recover from the devastation of the pandemic. All of these issues can easily get lost if we don’t have that voice and that perspective back at the table,” stated Tracy Mitchell, president of Mothers in Action, a local, community-based organization servicing children and families in South Los Angeles.
Heather Hutt is the former State Director for Vice President Kamala Harris, back when she was in the U.S. Senate. Hutt was the first African American woman to hold this top executive staff position in the history of California. She declared she would seek to fill the 54th Assembly seat even before Senator Kamlager-Dove won her bid to move to the Senate. Now that Sydney has officially vacated the seat, Hutt has garnered an impressive list of supporters who have signed on in favor of Hutt for the 54th Assembly, which makes her the clear and designated favorite to claim the seat. Almost every member of the California Legislative Black Caucus has endorsed Hutt for Assembly, including Assemblywoman Autumn Burke as well CLBC Chair Senator Steve Bradford and Progressive Caucus Chair Assemblyman Reggie Jones Sawyer, and CLBC members, Mike Gipson and Jim Cooper.
To further demonstrate the broad coalition of support for Hutt, hundreds of women throughout the state, recently signed a letter in support of Heather Hutt for Assembly, as well as powerful labor and political coalitions, including the International Union of Operating Engineers, Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA), several members of Los Angeles African American Women’s Political Action Committee (LAAAWPAC), and Los Angeles Black Pride and Promote have also endorsed Hutt for Assembly. The Latin-X community is also joining forces in support of Heather; she has gotten the endorsement of former Speaker John Perez, as well as Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo. “As Chair of the L.A. City Council’s Housing Committee, I know firsthand how important it is that we elect candidates who are dedicated to creating more affordable housing solutions for Angelenos. I’m proud to support Heather Hutt because she shares this vision for a more proactive approach to addressing our region’s homelessness crisis. Her perspective and experience in public service are greatly needed in Sacramento,” stated Councilmember Gil Cedillo, who has also served in both the California State Assembly and the California Senate.
“Heather Hutt is not new to the 54th District; she is not new to this community. She grew up right here in the community; she raised her three sons here in this district. She has always been someone who can and will get things done for people in this community. The only thing different is she will be the woman at the forefront of issues rather than as the woman working behind the scenes to get things done in this community, as she has done her entire life. It’s her time, it’s her turn,” stated Charisse Bremond-Weaver, president of the Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade.
Heather Hutt said she made the decision to run for the Assembly instead of joining her former boss in Washington, D.C., out of a life-long love for her community and a dedication to serving and uplifting those in need. “I grew up here, in Leimert Park. This is my neighborhood. Being in this community, I understand what’s important, what leadership looks like and what the changes and challenges are. When you love where you are and you love your community, you want to share that love in your work as well as in your personal life,” she said.