With a vacant Senate seat in tow, the race is on and the candidates are pulling out all the stops to get their message to the people.
The race for state's 26th Senatorial district is shaping up to be one of the hottest races of the campaign season. According to the registrar-recorder's office, 11 candidates have filed to run for the seat and they come from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and expertise including elected officials, a commissioner, a management consultant, a financial analyst, an educator and a communications technician. A special election is scheduled for March 24th to fill the vacant seat.
According to his website, Robert Cole is a commissioner for the Economy and Efficiency Commission, that promote fiscal responsibility for departments, agencies and operating county services. He is a longtime political consultant, who was a senior staff member in the Obama-for-President California campaign. Cole states that he is running for the 26th Senate District to bring about the change that California so desperately needs since the state and local budgets are in crisis. His platform focuses on education, labor, the environment, health and economic development.
Cole said that he is running to be a State Senator to be the change that California needs to restore accountability to government and break through the walls of bureaucracy in Sacramento to get the budget back on track and prevent a repeat of the 2009 budget crisis delay in 2010. Cole said, "We have a budget that is about to lay off teachers yet we found money for the horse-racing industry. I think a lot times when people get to Sacramento, they forget who put them in office, and they start putting special interests before the needs of the people. Now is the time for change, a time for new leadership, for someone who will put people before politics. The budget was passed with some contingencies." In commenting about the other candidates, Cole said, "I think it's admirable for anyone to want to be a leader and the difference is, some of the other candidates see this as a job, I see it as a responsibility." He concluded, "As your state senator, it will not be politics as usual! I will be a strong advocate for committed funding for higher education."
Mike Davis is in his second term as assemblyman of the 48th district and is a longtime activist in local politics. Prior to becoming an elected official, Davis worked for several elected officials including the senate campaign of Barack Obama and the mayoral campaign of the late Tom Bradley. According to Davis, "This is a great opportunity to further serve the residents of Los Angeles in the Senate and it gives you an opportunity to focus on public policy that will help increase the quality of life. I've been fortunate while I have served in the Assembly over the last two years, to work with the Governor (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and the Speaker (Karen Bass) and all of the state's representatives in passing legislation that deals with creating jobs for women and minorities; for increasing penalties for those who abuse elders; for protecting the jobs of our military men and women; and for strengthening the laws that notaries use in closing housing deals to minimize fraud in those transactions."
According to Davis, 50 percent of the Senate District is in his 48th district. In commenting on the other candidates, he added, "I think my candidacy is different in that each of the assignments I have had in government have been centered in the 26th Senate District: my first assignment as district director to Congresswoman Maxine Waters as far back as when she was in the Assembly; also senior deputy to (former) Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke; and I've worked in numerous campaigns. I was the first state legislator to endorse Barack Obama for president two years ago, having worked with him when he ran for the U.S. Senate. Finally, the 26th district Senate seat significantly encompasses my assignments in this area."
Saundra Davis is the vice-president of the Culver City School Board, her second four-year term on the board, and is chief executive officer of Community Centers, Inc. According to her campaign literature, she is "the people's choice, a new voice to represent you in Sacramento." She has been endorsed by Congresswoman Diane Watson; Culver City Council-members Christopher Armenta and Mehaul O'Leary; Attorney Scott Zeidman and Steven Gourley of Culver City Board of Education; and California Teacher's Association, Adult Education.
Her top priorities are education, the burgeoning state budget, jobs, economic development healthcare and crime. Davis said, "First of all, I am a wife and the mother of eight children, and I feel I am the most qualified and capable to do the job, because most people run on education but I AM an educator. I've been teaching in LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School District) for nine years; I am also the CEO of the largest Worksource Center in city of Los Angeles; and the greatest concern of the people right now is unemployment and that's what I do. I help people to get jobs; at the Worksource Center, we make sure people have the education, training and provide the job placement for them to get jobs. So I know all about that."
In commenting about the other candidates, Davis said, "I like them as people. I think that since we have such issues in the State Assembly, that they need to stay where they are and fix those issues. I am not one of the recycled group of individuals who have just gone from position to position. I am her with new energy and new ideas and I am committed to serving the people for the full term of office."
Curren Price is the assemblyman of the 51st district, vice chair of the Legislative Black Caucus and former city council member of Inglewood. He has been endorsed by L.A. Police Protective League, the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS) and Stonewall Democratic Club. He is the chair of the Governmental Organization Committee; on the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, Business and Professions; and Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and the Internet.
Price has said, "I want to continue the positive progressive leadership that the district has experienced under (former Senator) Mark Ridley-Thomas. My priorities are doing all that I can to assist in job creation one of the important issues in the district. I want to make sure that district residents are aware and informed about the new green jobs that are now coming into the economy, so that they can participate in that either as workers or doing recycling or conservation or manufacturing. Health is another big issue in the district so I want to be a voice for reform to make health care possible and available. I certainly support the single parent plan for example, and I think that President Obama's pledge to work on health care issues is going to be an opportunity to do the same thing at the state level." In commenting about the other candidates, Price said, "I think they're fine, but I think clearly that I have more experience; I have more background and I have a history of performance and achievement. The thing that singles me out is that I as a uniquely qualified candidate is my background as a public official, as an elected official, working at a university and I have a history in the private sector."
Each candidate has his/her own unique flavor to bring to the electorate that they will be representing and it is important to give the voters relevant, up-to-date information from which to base their ultimate decision.
The 26th District has over 800,000 residents in the city of Los Angeles and Culver City and includes the communities of Baldwin Hills, Beverlywood, Century City, the Crenshaw District, Hancock Park, Hollywood, Jefferson Park, Koreatown, Ladera Heights, Lafayette Square, Larchmont, Leimert Park, Los Feliz, South Los Angeles, View Park and Windsor Hills, among others.