Steve Knight Concedes And This Simi Valley Starbucks Spills The Tea

Voters say even though the district's turning blue is historic, they're not surprised it's happening. (Photo by Caleigh Wells/LAist)

Something's brewing in northern L.A. County. And it's more than your grande low-fat peppermint mocha. After a super-tight race, Republican incumbent Steve Knight conceded Wednesday to Democratic challenger Katie Hill.

Historically, the race in the 25th Congressional district — which straddles L.A. County and Ventura County and includes communities like Santa Clarita, Palmdale, Lancaster and Lake Los Angeles — has been a shoe-in for whichever Republican candidate was running. Voting in a 31-year-old nonprofit executive is a disruption to the status quo, to put it mildly.

In 2016, many voters there supported Hillary Clinton. This year, Dems saw this, and other districts, as offering a good chance at flipping the House. Turned out they were right.

We went to a Simi Valley Starbucks to hear what voters had to say.

VOTERS AND VENTIS

Renee Taylor-Goldstein, wearing a down jacket in true California fashion, was waiting to pick up her post-election coffee.

She voted for Hill and said the race was the election she cared most about this year. She said she's a centrist, but she's passionate about making health care affordable and making sure her gay daughter grows up in an inclusive environment. That's why she voted the way she did.

Renee Taylor-Goldstein says she and her neighbors have leaned more left since the 2016 election. (Photo by Caleigh Wells/LAist)

But even in a traditionally Republican district, she said she's not surprised at how things are looking. "We've only been here four years and I've actually found it to be more purple than Republican," she said. "Most of my neighbors actually classify themselves as purple right now."

And she thought President Trump's win in 2016 might be part of why her neighbors are changing their views: "The Republican Party's not what they stand for anymore, so they're having to vote candidate by candidate instead."

Jennifer Gysler is one of those people. She started as a Republican and is registered as an Independent now. But she voted for Hill this year. "I thought she had more to offer to the local area," she said. "She seems to be a more independent thinker even if she's a Democrat."

Jennifer Gyser thinks the higher voter turnout this election shows that her district is more contested than people previously thought. (Photo by Caleigh Wells/LAist)

She said it's not just that people have changed their minds, it's that more people showed up to vote this year. "I've lived here for quite awhile and I've seen a fair amount of changes," she said. "I think it's a big conservative area, but I think it just goes to show you how close things really are when people turn out."

But while others might be stressed by the close call, Gysler said that was her favorite kind of election. "I think it's great that it's a close election actually, because that means a lot of people are more vested in what's going on."


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