Betty Pleasant's Weekly Soulvine Column

The California Democratic Party will convene meetings next month to elect Assembly district delegates and Assembly district executive board representatives for each of the state’s 80 Assembly districts and there is a lot of mumbling and crumbling going on about the elections in two local Assembly district races: District 54, represented by Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas and District 62, represented by Assemblywoman Autumn Burke.
The state’s Democrats will conduct these election meetings on Jan. 10 and Jan. 11 at which 14 people --- seven men and seven women --- will be elected to represent their Assembly district as Democratic State Central Committee delegates at both the 2015 and 2016 state conventions. One of each district’s 14-member delegation will become the district’s representative on the California Democratic Party’s executive board
Election to district delegate is a juicy plum sought after by the politically involved residents in the community who seek greater participation in the affairs of the people. These are they who want to speak up about and act upon the needs of their neighbors and help develop and promote an agenda that benefits their district’s residents. 
Yes, they get to attend political conventions and hang out with powerful people and elect party officials, but the important thing the delegates do is represent their Assembly district constituency and ensure that their constituency matters (like black lives). They are called upon to endorse candidates in all elections for state and federal offices and to reject any would-be proposal, resolution or ballot measure they deem is detrimental to the people. Basically, then, the district delegates are the voice of the people and they function on behalf of the people.
Candidates seeking to become delegates for Districts 54 and 62 are angry because they are being forced to run against Assemblymembers’ family and against already entrenched elected officials whose agenda may not reflect the will of the people. Candidates vying for delegate posts in Assemblyman Ridley-Thomas’ district are: his father, County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas; his mother, Avis Ridley-Thomas; his twin brother, Sinclair Ridley-Thomas; the Ridley-Thomas family’s long-time public relations employee, Frederic MacFarlane and somebody related to him named Patrick MacFarlane. Others running for District 54 delegate include Alex Padilla, Inglewood city councilman and Jim Clarke, a city councilman of Culver City.
While Assemblywoman Burke is the daughter of retired Supervisor Yvonne Burke, no identifiable relative of hers is running for District 62 delegate. However, community hopefuls find themselves running against Robert Pullen Miles, mayor of Lawndale; Rachel Johnson, Gardena city councilmember and Lesley David Patterson, treasurer of the city of Hawthorne.
One Democratic Party official commented to this reporter that, “This really isn’t fair. Elected officials are running for district seats that rightfully belong to community activists. All state and federal elected officers get to appoint additional delegates of their own choice as a delegate,” the official said. “So instead of running against the community people, local politicians should be bugging people like representatives Maxine Waters, Karen Bass, Janice Hahn et al to appoint them, thus leaving the elected seats at the table free for the community folks,” the official explained. “This is a problem we must work on --- as well as the problem of flagrant nepotism. After all, we are supposed to be the People’s Party,”  the official added.
All registered voters who reside in a specific Assembly district are eligible to vote in delegate elections. The election for AD 54 will be held at 2 p.m. on Jan. 11 in the multi-purpose room of the Veteran’s Building, 4117 Overland Ave. The election for AD 62 delegates will be held on Jan. 11 at noon in Los Angeles Fire Station #5, located at 8900 Emerson Ave.