Sydney Kamlager will fill the seat left vacant by California’s 54th District Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas after winning a special election on April 3. Kamlager beat out three other candidates, one Republican and two Democrats, with almost 65 percent of the vote. Kamlager said her previous experience will allow her to “hit the ground running” as she takes the baton from Ridley-Thomas who is now focusing on his health.
“As a policy maker and as a district director, I have the experience,” Kamlager told reporters during her campaign.
“I know how the state works. I have working relationships with other decision makers, stakeholders and community advocates. Many of the policies that I have championed are now in effect throughout the state…”
Kamlager’s career began at the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) in Venice, CA, where she programmed public art programs in each of the city council districts throughout Los Angeles. In 2002, she became the director of External Affairs at Crystal Stairs. She was responsible for the agency’s legislative, advocacy and public policy agendas as well as for its parent and provider advocate program, Community Voices. While at Crystal Stairs, she trained and mobilized community advocates, fought against state budget cuts to child care and helped raise the local profile of the organization and child care’s contribution to the local economy.
In 2010, Kamlager became a key consultant on the campaign to elect Holly J. Mitchell to State Assembly. Mitchell won and Kamalger became her district director. She has served in that capacity while Mitchell was in the State Assembly and while in the State Senate, focusing on education, restorative justice and the arts.
In 2015, Kamlager ran for Seat 3 of the Board of Trustees for the Los Angeles Community College District. She won that election on March 3, 2015, garnering over 52% of the vote among four candidates. She is the fourth African-American woman to be elected to the LACCD Board of Trustees since 2001 and the third African-American women to be elected to Seat 3 since 1987. In 2017, she was elected President of the Board of Trustees. It is the second time in the District’s 77 year history that an African-American woman was elected President of the Board.
“Sydney has proven herself as a policy leader and a strong advocate for community college students and faculty as a member and president on the LACCD Board of Trustees,” said Senator Mitchell during Kamlager’s campaign.
“Sydney has demonstrated her full appreciation of what it means to be a skilled public servant by taking care of the day-to-day community needs of the people of the 30th Senate District that I represent. The voters of the 54th Assembly District already know Sydney. They can confidently be assured that Sydney will deliver for them when they elect her to represent them in our State Capitol. I wholeheartedly and forthrightly endorse Sydney Kamlager-Dove for 54th Assembly District in 2018.”
U.S. Representative Karen Bass agreed.
“I’ve watched Sydney grow to become a highly effective policymaker for the L.A. Community College District while remaining a diligent district director for the California State Senate serving Sen. Holly Mitchell,” she said.
“Sydney has long been an advocate for women and children. She has the right attitude, temperament and progressive mindset we need in Sacramento, particularly in light of the policy challenges we face in California with an administration in the White House whose ultra-conservative polices pose a direct threat to health and human services that provide support to women, seniors and children. I look forward to working on federal-state matters with Sydney Kamlager-Dove when the voters for the 54th Assembly District elect her as their representative in Sacramento.”
The April 3 special election was one of three in California. The other two were forced by the resignations of San Fernando Valley Democrats Raul Bocanegra and Matt Dababneh following accusations of sexual misconduct. Kamlager has listed her four priorities as education, criminal justice, healthcare and environmental improvements.