In the elections this fall in California, the Legislative Black Caucus grew to its largest size in 47 years, going from eight members last session to 11. It will likely grow by one more after the special election next Tuesday for Senate District 35.
I am as disheartened as anyone by the national results, but we must take pride in what California has done. California can lead the way for the rest of the country. We show that the process can be improved, that we can make progress on tough, almost insurmountable problems, and that together we can built a more perfect union that will more truly represent all people, especially the underserved today.
More about the five newly elected members. In addition to the three new seats gained in Northern California, the CLBC has two new Southern California members replacing termed out members Isadore Hall and Steve Bradford.
Hon. Kevin McCarty - Assembly District 7
Sacramento City Council member Kevin McCarty has served the city's 6th District since 2004. He was a policy director to former Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante and Assembly Budget Committee consultant to Denise Ducheny. Council member McCarty has been a champion for neighborhoods and led Sacramento's efforts to invest more than $200 million in parks, libraries and community centers. He is an advocate of early childhood education, working to help pass the California Kindergarten Readiness Act to expand learning opportunities for more than 120,000 children.
Hon. Jim Cooper - Assembly District 9
Sacramento County Sheriff's Captain Jim Cooper was the first-ever Mayor of the City of Elk Grove. He served two mayoral terms and four terms as a member of the Elk Grove City Council. As Elk Grove's mayor and council member, he helped establish the city's first-ever gang-narcotics unit, expanded the number of officers on neighborhood patrol, and established the city's emergency (911) communications center. Captain Cooper is decorated, 26-year career law enforcement executive. He is commander of the Sacramento Valley Hi-Tech Crime Task Force that investigates online identity theft and crimes against children.
Hon. Tony Thurmond - Assembly District 15
Tony Thurmond is senior director of Community and Government Relations for the Oakland-based Lincoln Child Center. He is a former Richmond City Council member and West Contra Costa County School Board member. He was the Richmond City Council's liaison to that city's Youth Commission. He is an advocate for working families, community-oriented public safety, educational opportunities for young people and their parents, and job opportunities for at-risk youth. He raised more than $2 million to assist emancipated 18-year-olds exiting Contra Costa County's foster care system.
Hon. Autumn Burke - Assembly District 62
Autumn Burke is a partner with Mandeville Group, LLC, a Los Angeles-based minority and woman-owned consulting firm specializing in public-private partnerships and strategic planning. She formerly served as vice president of LA Events. As a consultant, she worked with the City of Chino to convert a community park's lighting system to low energy LED lights. She helped the nonprofit Brigitte and Bobby Sherman Children's Foundation build a self-sustaining orphanage in Ghana. Autumn Burke is the daughter of Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, former L.A. County Supervisor, former U.S. Representative and former state Assembly member; and William Burke, Ed.D., chairman, South Coast Air Quality Management District.
Hon. Mike Gipson - Assembly District 64
Mike Gipson is a three-term member on the City of Carson City Council. He was first elected in 2005 and has served as Carson Mayor Pro Tem. He is district director for Jerome Horton, chairman, California Board of Equalization. He formerly worked as an area organizer for United Teachers Los Angeles, a labor organization representing 48,000 teachers. He was legislative and political director for SEIU, Local 399, political director for SEIU, Local 1877 and business representative for SEIU, Local 99. He is a former sworn officer with the Maywood Police Department. Council member Gipson is chairman of the Board of Director for Positive Imagery Foundation, an L.A.-based public health agency that manages HIV/AIDS and STD prevention programs in L.A. County African-American and Latino communities.
Re-Elected CLBC Members
Hon. Holly J. Mitchell
Senator, 26th District
Chair, California Legislative Black Caucus
Senator Holly J. Mitchell, a Democrat representing Culver City and parts of the city and county of Los Angeles, earned her bachelor's degree from the University of California, Riverside. She was elected to the Senate in 2013 after serving the 54th Assembly District from 2010. She worked as a policy analyst for the Senate Health and Human Services Committee chaired by then Senator Diane E. Watson. She served as legislative advocate for the Western Center on Law and Poverty, executive director of Los Angeles-based Black Women's Health Project and chief executive officer of Crystal Stairs, a nonprofit Los Angeles-based child development agency. Ms. Mitchell's legislative agenda is focused on improving Californians' access to quality health and education, and assisting working families through job creation and expanding economic opportunity.
Hon. Cheryl R. Brown
Assemblymember, 47th District
Assemblymember Cheryl R. Brown was elected on November 6, 2012 to represent California's 47th Assembly District, which includes San Bernardino, Rialto, Fontana, Colton, Grand Terrace, Bloomington and Muscoy. Her key legislative priorities include economic development, small business growth, public safety and education. She is currently the chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Small Business Financing and Development Opportunities. As chair, her primary goal is to promote a strong agenda for economic development and create an environment for small business growth. Prior to joining the California State Assembly, Brown worked for the San Bernardino County Planning Department. She later served on the County and City Planning Commissions for 17 years. During her tenure as a commissioner, she was elected president of the California County Planning Commissioners Association.
Hon. Christopher Holden
Assemblymember, 41st District
Assemblymember Chris Holden, a Democrat representing Pasadena, earned his bachelor's degree in Business Administration from California State University, San Diego. He was elected in 2012. He serves as Assembly Majority Whip. Mr. Holden was previously elected to the Pasadena City Council. He was elected Pasadena Mayor in 1997. He was instrumental in expanding the Metro Gold Line connecting the San Gabriel Valley region to Metro Los Angeles, creating jobs and new business activity. He is president and owner of Pasadena-based CHMB Consulting Firm. Mr. Holden's legislative agenda is focused on construction and transit-oriented development for the Metro Gold Line Pasadena-Azusa-Montclair extension, economic opportunities for start-up companies and small businesses and support for active duty military personnel.
Hon. Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr.
Assemblymember, 59th District
Assembly Member Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer Sr., a Democrat representing Los Angeles, earned his bachelor's degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California. He was elected in 2012. He previously served as director of Asset Management for the City of Los Angeles, chair of the L.A. County Small Business Commission, Assistant Deputy Mayor for the City of Los Angeles. He was vice president of the L.A. Professional Managers Association. Mr. Jones-Sawyer's legislative agenda is focused on job creation, fair employment, justice and corrections, improving access to California's education systems, and school campus safety.
Hon. Sebastian Ridley-Thomas
Assemblymember, 54th District
Assembly Member Sebastian Ridley-Thomas was elected in December 2013 to represent California's 54th Assembly District, which includes the Los Angeles County communities of Century City, Culver City, Westwood, Mar Vista, Palms, Baldwin Hills, Windsor Hills, Ladera Heights, View Park, Crenshaw, Leimert Park, Mid City, and West Los Angeles. He previously served as public policy director for State Senator Curren Price. In this capacity, he advised the senator on economic development, transportation, housing, public safety, and local government issues - all of which are of critical importance to constituents in the 54th Assembly District. Ridley-Thomas also worked as a staff member in the district office, where he was responsible for a caseload of 900,000 residents in Greater Los Angeles.
Hon. Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D.
Assemblymember, 79th District
Assemblymember Shirley Nash Weber, a Democrat representing San Diego, earned her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from University of California, Los Angeles. She was elected in 2012. She previously served as a professor at California State University, San Diego. Dr. Weber is former president of the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education. She chaired the San Diego Citizens Equal Opportunity Commission. Dr. Weber's legislative agenda is focused on small business procurement, K-12 education curriculum, public safety, student financial aid, and juvenile justice youth assistance programs.