Author: Clark Scally
The California State Assembly election this year will be effected by a range of structural changes, from re-redistricting to the overhaul of the primary system. The race for State Assembly District 51, the district housing Occidental College, will be a of particular interest because it contains the only openly gay male candidate in the Assembly race.
The 51st District, home to 465,643 people, includes Echo Park, part
of Silver Lake, East LA, and Eagle Rock. Most of the 51st District is
part of what is known as unincorporated Los Angeles, meaning it is not
part of the city of Los Angeles but under direct Los Angeles Country
jurisdiction. Since the city of Los Angeles’ offices are less involved
in these regions, a strong state representative becomes especially
important to the continued well-being of the unincorporated
areas. A new representative and a new constituency could mean big
changes for local voices being heard in Sacramento.
Luis Lopez, candidate for the 51st State Assembly District and the only
openly gay male running, is trying to win his first Assembly election. “I feel
I would represent this district very well. I am a homegrown candidate, I
was born in this district, and I served it for a decade as Planning
Commissioner and on the Park Oversight Committee,” Lopez said in a phone
interview. “I was very involved in the fight against Proposition 8,
that denied equal marriage rights [to same-sex couples] and have been
fighting for equal voting representation for Hispanics.” Lopez’s website
(lopezforassemly.com) highlights his plans for expanding quality and
affordable healthcare, prioritizing job creation for the middle class,
and creating fair tax policies.
Lopez graduated from Pomona College and is now the Nonprofit Healthcare
Director of AltaMed, the largest independent Federally Qualified
Community Health Center in the U.S. He currently lives on Yosemite Drive
with his partner.
Jimmy Gomez, Lopez’s competitor, is also a Democrat because of the recent introduction of the
blanket primary system. In this system the top two vote-getters in the
primary become the candidates up for election in November, even if they
are both from the same political party. The Gomez campaign scored a decisive win in the
June primary, coming in first place and beating his nearest opponent by
13 percent. Gomez is a Southern California native who promises to be a strong advocate of marriage
equality. His campaign focuses on creating good
jobs and the improvement of local schools in unsafe communities.
“Jimmy is the only candidate in the race that has experience
creating middle class jobs you can raise a family on. As a community college teacher,
he knows firsthand how the state’s budget cuts to education has had devastating
effects on our students. Finally, as a director for the United Nurses
Associations of California, Jimmy fights every day to increase and ensure
access to quality, affordable healthcare,” an email from the Gomez campaign read.
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