Mark Ridley-Thomas (photo E. Mesiyah McGinnis / LA Sentinel)

‘They rejected the untested; they embraced the battle-tested’

By press time, Tuesday, November 3, on the evening of Election Day, in the Los Angeles City Council District 10 race, attorney, Grace Yoo was behind Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas by a big enough gap of 61.61% of the vote, that it was widely expected that Ridley-Thomas would take the seat.

Council President Nury Martinez sent virtual congratulates.
“At such a critical time, Councilmember-Elect (Ridley-Thomas) brings
experience and results in his return to the Los Angeles City Council,”
said Martinez via Twitter.

The 10th District includes South L.A. communities such as West Adams, Leimert Park, Koreatown, Mid City, Arlington Heights, and Little Ethiopia. Ridley-Thomas will replace Councilman Herb Wesson, who was behind Holly Mitchell for the L.A. County Board of Supervisor’s seat as of late Tuesday night.

Mark Ridley-Thomas, his campaign staff, family, and supporters take a quick photo, safely, with masks, after his victory on Election Day. (photo E. Mesiyah McGinnis / LA Sentinel)

On Tuesday evening, Ridley-Thomas hosted a small socially distanced gathering on the outside stage at Lula Washington Dance Theatre studios on Crenshaw Blvd.  He expressed his deepest gratitude to his campaign staff and supporters and virtually addressed the people of the 10th District.

His role as an elected official:  This is what I do.  Anything worth having is worth working for.  We all know that.  Officeholders need to take that as their cradle; they need to take their sense of oath as fundamentally important, that drives them to work as hard for their constituency, the best they can.

The 10th District voters: They kind of bucked the trend; the virulence of an anti-incumbency wave was pushed back by the people of the 10th District.  We know the best when we see it, and we’re going to put it forward, so all of us can aspire to be better than would otherwise be the case.  They rejected the untested; they embraced the battle-tested.   They understood that homelessness is my priority unapologetically; not just a campaign speech, but tomorrow, I’ll be at a homeless encampment doing what I do in trying to construct new models for how we address what I think is the defining moral crisis of our time.

Mark Ridley-Thomas thanks his campaign his staff and virtual supporters on Election Day. (photo E. Mesiyah McGinnis / LA

His agenda for the 10th District: We are not going to be unwilling to re-imagine law enforcement with the kind of creativity, balance, and wisdom that we ought to bear.  We will not be precipitous, we will thoughtful.  We will respect first responders and essential workers because I believe in Dr. Martin Luther King’s expression, ‘All labor has dignity.’

So, tomorrow, the work begins.  We will party virtually tonight.  I look forward to working with residents of the 10 District.  (Smiling) I know they are going to try and get every ounce of what they can get from me, while they can, over the length of the term in which I’m engaged.  I have to run!  I have to run hard because I don’t have much time to do what I need to do.  But I plan to make a difference with [the community’s] help.

Who is he in one sentence: A hard-charging advocate for the homeless, and someone who will stand up for the arts, and not be reluctant to re-imagine what government can be.

Ridley-Thomas’ wife, Ava, spoke briefly to the Sentinel regarding his new role: I am so delighted that my husband chose to use his talents to benefit our community in the way that he has over all of these years.  I think we have benefited tremendously as a community. I’m very proud of that. And I have much appreciated the support of community members throughout the years.  Sometimes, it was much closer … these races.  But, each time, the people have affirmed the kind of leadership he has provided.

And I am deeply grateful as a community member, as his wife, of course, and our long companionship since high school.  I’m proud and expecting great things for the 10th District.  It’s so clear that he knows how to get things accomplished for us; he’s committed and enthusiastic about it, and I just appreciate the support of community members in the process.

Ava Riddley-Thomas and husband, Mark Ridley-Thomas in solidarity at the virtual campaign celebration. (photo E. Mesiyah McGinnis / LA Sentinel)

Check out the video below.


Additional photos by E. Mesiyah McGinnis