Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Staff Writer
Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer was born into a political family, and he has turned out to be a chip off the old block. His uncle was one of the “Little Rock Nine”, who were the nine children who bravely integrated Central High School in Arkansas in 1957. His family played a major role in helping integrate schools in his home state of Arkansas.
“My commitment to public service is due to my upbringing,” Jones-Sawyer said.
That commitment has led him to become the highest-ranking African American officer in the California Democratic Party (CDP). He was elected Secretary of the CDP in 2001, and in April of this year, he became the first person to be elected to that position for a third straight term.
With that position Jones-Sawyer handles the internal workings of the party. One task that he has is to ensure that the party members are able to communicate with each other effectively. He has taken advantage of new networking systems, such as Facebook and Twitter to maintain a constant flow of communication.
Jones-Sawyer makes the CDP more accessible to its delegates and Democrats. He gives Democratic activists the tools they need to be successful.
Last year Jones-Sawyer gave the largest all donor fundraiser for the CDP. Over 300 Democrats raised $15,000, where the average donation was $50 for Speaker Bass and then Party Chairman Art Torres hosted the event.
As a high-ranking official, Jones-Sawyer was part of a team that elected a Democrat in every statewide constitutional office, ensured that control of the State Senate and State Assembly remained in the Democratic hands. He also helped Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi become the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives and Assembly-woman Karen Bass become the first African American woman Speaker of the California State Assembly, and the nation.
Jones-Sawyer works as the Director of Asset Management for the City of Los Angeles, where he directs senior level administrators and real property management staff in managing over $22 million worth of leases and 900 city-owned properties worth in excess of $4 billion.
Jones-Sawyer has a long history in politics. From 1994-1998, he served as Assistant Deputy Mayor for Mayor Richard Riordan. He was a senior advisor to the Mayor and directed the operations of the departments of City Planning, Building and Safety, Housing, Housing Authority, Environmental Affairs and Community Redevelopment Agency. He oversaw several budgets and staff totaling more than $110 million and 1,344 employees.
In recent years Jones-Sawyer has served as President and/or Chair of the Baldwin Hills Conservancy, USC Black Alumni, SEIU, New Frontier Democratic Club, and the Los Angeles County’s Small Business Commission.
Jones-Sawyer received his Bachelors of Science in Public Administration from the University of Southern California, and he completed the Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Jones-Sawyer is a Life Member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and the NAACP.
As for the future, Jones-Sawyer does not see himself running for a fourth term as the Secretary of the CDP.
“I am running for State Assembly for the 47th District,” Jones-Sawyer said. “So I hope I’m not going after a fourth term with the CDP.”