Mitchell poses with her mother at her election celebration in Los Angeles
“I’m thrilled tonight to have all of the volunteers who came out and supported me, who put their feet where their mouths are in terms of pounding the pavement and I feel really good about tonight’s victory,” said Holly J. Mitchell who was elected to California’s 26th Senate District seat in a special election September 17, making her the first African American woman in the State Senate in over a decade.
During her campaign, Mitchell said she looked forward to serving the 26th, encompassed by almost ten percent of Los Angeles County including the cities of Baldwin Hills, Century City, the Crenshaw District, Culver City, Hancock Park, Hollywood, Hyde Park, Jefferson Park, Ladera Heights Leimert Park, South Los Angeles, View Park, West Los Angeles and Windsor Hills. In her newly elected position she will continue to tackle the issues of jobs, healthcare, education, public safety and the environment, she said.
“I believe a healthy California equals healthy families, so [I’ll work on] creating opportunities for working families in California, making sure their children have high quality schools to attend, making sure they have access to health care services, making sure that they have a healthy, clean environment.”
Mitchell beat recurrent candidate Mervin Evans, a democrat and management consultant with over 70 percent of the vote.
“The list is too long of people I want to thank,” said Mitchell on Tuesday.
“Everybody here, folks who stepped out and walked precincts, the people who had parties and fundraisers, a number of electeds who are here, people who endorsed me, the governor, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Kamala Harris, Speaker Don Perez…”
The special election was held to fill the vacancy left in the Senate by Curren Price, who now serves as Los Angeles’ 9th district councilman. Mitchell previously served as assemblywoman for the 54th district, which includes Culver City and unincorporated Ladera Heights, and the Los Angeles communities of Mar Vista, Palms, Westwood, Cheviot Hills, Beverlywood, Faircrest Heights, Century City, Holmby Hills, Mid City, Lafayette Square, Baldwin Hills, View Park, Windsor Hills, Crenshaw District, Jefferson Park, Leimert Park and Park Mesa Heights. Sebastian Ridley- Thomas, son of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is now vying for that seat.
Meanwhile, Mitchell, who had been the front runner during the entire campaign period, began her election night celebration at 8:01 p.m. in Los Angeles, one minute after the polls closed. But, she said, she did not take her impending victory for granted.
“[The campaign] created an opportunity to get out, hit the street, talk to constituents, talk to folks who live in sections of the city that I didn’t represent in the assembly.”
Mitchell’s Senate district will be about twice the size of her Assembly district, with just under a million people.
Her supporters have no doubt she will have a problem rising to the challenge.
“Ms. Mitchell is a class act. She’s very knowledgeable,” said Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer
“She will uplift the senate. She knows what she’s doing.”
Retired senator Kevin Murray, who once represented the 26th said, “I told her, ‘congratulations and we’re proud of you. You made a big step forward and you have another eight years to have an impact.’”
“I had a chance to work with Holly in the state legislature very closely on a lot of key issues,” said City Attorney Mike Feuer.
“Social justice issues, healthcare issues, housing, transportation and she’s a woman of exceptional quality, tremendous integrity.”
“There’s no greater advocate for California’s children than Senator Mitchell,” said Marqueece Harris-Dawson of the California Civil Rights Coalition.
“She’s one of the most dynamic leaders we have anywhere in the state, male or female, black, brown, white or yellow.”
Said Assemblyman Steve Bradford, “It’s going to be a great loss to the assembly. Holly has been a force of nature when it comes to all the issues that impact people of color, working families, mothers, small children and we’re going to really miss her voice on the assembly side. But, at the same time, she’s going to bring that same commitment to the senate. She’s going to add some life to what I call the older house, the more staid… they’re going to need a firebrand like Holly. She’s going to bring that passion, that tenacity, that commitment and understanding of the issues that we need to focus on in California. So, it’s the assembly’s loss, it’s the senate’s gain but California still has a great warrior in Holly J. Mitchell.”