For years, the members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors were known as “The Five Kings,” a title used to describe the powerful all-male Board of Supervisors, which remained that way until 1982 when Yvonne Brathwaite-Burke shattered the glass ceiling and became the first woman and the first African American to be elected to the Board of Supervisors.
Now the prestigious and powerful board of five could be referred to as “The 5 Queens,” but more often is referred to as the “Fab Five.” With the election and swearing in of Holly Mitchell, who replaced outgoing Supervisor and now 10th District Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, in a private and socially distanced ceremony on Sunday, December 6, Supervisor Mitchell completes the circle and makes the Los Angeles County Supervisor’s Board all-female for the first time in the board’s history.
Equity will be at the center of all of our work,” Mitchell promised in her remarks. “As we fight to bring more housing to those in need, more mental health services, more job opportunities and real second chances for re-entry, they will be accomplished through that lens. And I look forward to collaborating with the newly-formed anti-racism initiative established by the supervisors.”
Mitchell joins the Board of Supervisors during some of the worst times in Los Angeles, California and U.S history. Un-precedented unemployment, homelessness, a new state-wide shutdown order due to the COVID-19 pandemic, overcrowded hospitals and a shortage of ICU beds, all are issues facing Mitchell on her first full day on the job. This, along with racial tensions and strained relations between the community and law enforcement, are but a few of the problems facing the newly sworn in supervisor and her colleagues.
The second supervisorial district, which garners the largest African American population within all of Los Angeles County, covers some of the most diverse parts of Los Angeles, including the Wilshire Center and the Miracle Mile, south to Carson & Compton west to Mar Vista, and east to Lynwood.
“She was dubbed as ‘California’s conscious,’ now she is the County’s conscious,” stated Compton City Council Woman, Michelle Chambers.
“From the moment Supervisor Mitchell told me she was running for this seat, my support of her was my next breath. I’m honored she is the representative for the City of Compton and I’m certain the residents of Los Angeles County 2nd Supervisory District will be pleased with the results of their vote.”
While Mitchell is the newest member of the board, she is no stranger to local and state politics, and was even in early consideration as a possible U.S. Senate appointee to replace now Vice President-elect Kamala Harris by Governor Gavin Newsom. Mitchell was first elected to the California Assembly in 2010 after leading the well-known community-based organization, Crystal Stairs as it’s CEO. In 2013, she was overwhelmingly elected to the California State Senate during a special election replacing Curren Price. While in the senate, Mitchell has served as a member of the California Legislative Black Caucus, and in 2016 became the first African American to chair the powerful Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, where she has overseen the passage and adoption of two consecutive state budgets and is considered one of the driving forces behind insuring that Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital retained its full funding during this past fiscal year.
Furthermore, with a base in community organizing, Mitchell is known and respected by many as a strong advocate and powerful ally for those who have traditionally been underserved and misrepresented. In 2018, Mitchell was named vice chair of the Joint Legislative Subcommittee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response, formed in response to the #MeToo movement and in several instances where accusations forced some lawmakers to resign.
Mitchell believes that as a member of the Board of Supervisors, she can create a more equitable, inclusive and prosperous Los Angeles County. She has been a strong advocate for more quality affordable housing; she has advocated for criminal justice reform and given her previous experiences with Crystal Stairs as a devoted and powerful advocate for foster youth, youth homelessness, and extended access to mental care services.
Mitchell is a strong advocate for the people of Los Angeles County but what she is most prideful of and had on full display during her swearing in ceremony, is her relationship with her son, Ryan, who was front and center, holding the Bible used to swear his mother in to office during her historic ceremony. Judge Martin Jenkins, California’s first and only African American Supreme Court Justice administered the oath of office.
Assembly member Sydney Kamlager-Dove, who is running to fill Mitchell’s now vacant Senate seat and is considered by most as the front runner to replace her in the Senate, stated, “Holly Mitchell has proven to be resilient, courageous and formidable in the face of all kinds of adversity. She will lead the 2nd Supervisorial District with the same problem solving, constituent-first passion that made her successful in the state legislature. She keeps it 100, and that is exactly the kind of leadership we need right now.”
The other women on the board are: Hilda L. Solis (First District), who served as United States Secretary of Labor during the Obama administration; Sheila Kuehl (Third District); Janice Hahn (Fourth District); and Kathryn Barger (Fifth District). Mitchell will also serve as the Supervisor pro-tem on the board.
During the virtual swearing-in ceremony, soul singer and Oakland native, Goapele, sang “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” and religious leaders representing Christianity, Judaism and Islam, offered prayers. The event’s Master of Ceremony, Manuel Pastor, a professor at the University of Southern California, also paid tribute to Native American ancestors he called the “caretakers of the land.”