Election 2020: Your Guide To The Race For LA County District 2 Supervisor
This is part of Voter Game Plan, our project to get you prepped for the 2020 elections. Read up on races, ballot measures, upcoming deadlines and the big changes happening in the way we vote for the March 3 primary. And if you have questions about voting, ask us anything.
The race for supervisor of L.A. County District 2, which includes Inglewood, Carson, Gardena and Culver City, is shaping up to be the most contentious of the three county supervisor races on the ballot this year. The current District 2 supervisor, Mark Ridley-Thomas, is termed out (and, incidentally, running for the L.A. City Council seat currently occupied by District 2 contender Herb Wesson), leaving the field open for familiar faces and newcomers alike.
A refresher: The five-member Board of Supervisors manages L.A. County's $30 billion annual budget and oversees services for the 10 million people who make up the nation's most populous county. Among those services: mental health, care for the homeless, foster care, juvenile detention, public health, law enforcement and the L.A. Sheriff's Department, L.A. Metro, county beaches, parks, libraries and governing over the unincorporated cities.
In short: This is an incredibly powerful seat to hold.
Below are the candidates in the District 2 race and where they stand on major issues. These are the top four candidates in terms of funds raised, in alphabetical order, by last name. There are 10 candidates in total for the nonpartisan seat — you can find out more about the others here. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, the top two will head to a runoff in November.
Jeong became known in the community for rallying opposition against a "bridge housing" shelter in Koreatown in 2018 — a fight that put him at odds with fellow District 2 candidate Herb Wesson, then the city councilmember who had pushed those plans forward. Jeong founded the Wilshire Community Coalition to protest the shelter, saying Wesson didn't seek enough public input on the plans, and was eventually successful in getting it moved out of Koreatown's borders (though only a half mile from the original location).
The organization also opposed a mural of Ava Gardner at a school campus in Koreatown, saying the imagery bore similarities to the Japanese Imperialist Army's "Rising Sun" battle flag. Jeong, a registered Democrat, describes his non-politician status as one of his "biggest strengths" and says he's willing to upturn status quo policies that he says haven't resulted in more affordability for L.A.'s residents.
On housing: Jeong recommends breaking from existing policies, leadership and budget when it comes to building housing in L.A. He says the current system makes new housing construction too costly and slow because of permitting and regulations. Jeong instead proposes a "modular model" of construction, by which housing units would be constructed overseas to bypass local regulations, and then shipped to the U.S. "fully furnished, and stacked just like Legos to form complete homes and apartments."
He also recommends more transparency for how the government spends money for housing.
On homelessness: Jeong points to his "modular model" plan for building housing as a way to begin eliminating homelessness in L.A., and recommends that current funds being used for Measure HHH be renegotiated toward his plan instead.
On child welfare: Jeong says as supervisor, he would "dramatically" increase funding and availability of childcare in L.A. County, and work to streamline approvals for childcare centers. He says that he would also use subsidies to encourage employers to hire high-risk youth to prevent the foster-care-to-homelessness pipeline.
On juvenile justice: He says it's important to focus on preventing youth from winding up in the justice system by focusing on mentoring and education. Jeong also says he would try and forge more trust and accountability between law enforcement and the communities they serve in order to ensure that young people don't end up incarcerated for status offenses or petty crimes.
Mitchell was elected to the state Assembly in 2010 and then the state Senate in 2013, and spent the past two years as chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review committee. Prior to joining the legislature, she was head of family and child development nonprofit Crystal Stairs.
She's a Democrat and has touted her work on criminal justice reform, transitional housing placement for foster youth and extended access to mental health care services among her proudest achievements in the legislature.
As senator, she also tackled the issue of black infant mortality, securing an additional $8 million for the Black Infant Health Program and sponsoring a law mandating implicit bias training for health care workers who treat pregnant women.
On housing: As state senator, Mitchell voted against SB 50, the state bill that would have allowed for taller and more dense housing developments near transit hubs, saying it didn't do enough to address concerns about gentrification and displacement. As senator, she also authored a bill banning landlords from rejecting prospective tenants solely for using Section 8 vouchers.
To tackle the housing crisis, she says she will focus on measures to protect communities at risk of being priced out of their homes and ways to create new affordable housing. Her proposals include expanding subsidized housing and supportive services to some residents who rely on government assistance for paying rent, supporting job growth to boost residents' incomes, and looking to ensure that new developments have a satisfactory proportion of affordable units for each community.
On homelessness: Mitchell supports a "housing-first" model, which advocates for housing as a means to solving homelessness without preconditions like workforce training or sobriety. She says if elected supervisor, she would aim to improve the efficiency of the L.A. Housing Services Authority by increasing transparency on data collection and funding distribution to help more departments see what strategies are effective in getting people out of homelessness.
Her full homelessness plan includes proposals like creating loans for people at risk of becoming homeless, incentivizing homeowners to build accessory dwelling units to rent to low-income tenants, expanding home-sharing programs and investing in mental health services.
On child welfare: Mitchell says decreasing social workers' caseloads is the first step toward creating a more functional and thoughtful child welfare system. She proposes using existing funding to add more social workers to drop caseloads from 40 per social worker to 15.
On juvenile justice: As senator, Mitchell authored a slate of legislation aimed at juvenile justice reforms. Those that passed include laws to prohibit counties from sending children under age 12 to juvenile hall, end administrative fees for youth in the juvenile justice system, bar youth from being sentenced to live without parole and eliminate the possibility for teens under age 16 to be tried as adults.
She has called for repurposing L.A.'s juvenile halls for a number of other uses, like temporary housing for homeless, mental health services or community programs.
Perry is a longtime public servant, having served three terms on the L.A. City Council from 2001-2013 (with some of those years serving alongside fellow District 2 candidate Herb Wesson). She is a Democrat and has represented areas including downtown L.A. and Skid Row, and is credited with helping usher in downtown L.A.'s revitalization during that time.
She ran for mayor of Los Angeles in 2013 but failed to make the runoff; She endorsed Eric Garcetti, who eventually won and appointed her General Manager of the Economic and Workforce Development Department. She stepped down from that role in 2018 and became executive director of the Infrastructure Funding Alliance in January 2019.
She says if elected, she would prioritize the county's homelessness crisis and economic development.
On housing: Perry opposed SB 50, the state bill that would have allowed for taller and more dense housing development near some transit stops. She says as supervisor, she would focus on providing technical assistance and grants to cities for housing plans, help speed up housing construction and create funding tools like affordable housing trusts. She also says she would set aside funds to assist communities that are in danger of being gentrified.
On homelessness: Perry says as a city council member she prioritized tackling homelessness in her district: she highlights her regular "Skid Row walks" to reach out to individuals and see what their needs were, and her role helping acquire a new building for the expansion of the Downtown Women's Center.
To deal with homelessness at the county level, Perry has called for a well-coordinated homelessness "Marshall Plan" involving federal, state and local governments, as well as the creation of an "emergency village" to treat people with mental illnesses living on the streets.
On child welfare: Perry supports adding more social workers providing them with more administrative support in order to reduce caseloads. She also advocates for assigning caseworkers to pregnant women from communities experiencing violence and poverty so they can get support such as job training, parenting skills classes and access to mental health care, as a means for preventing children from being at risk after they are born.
On juvenile justice: Perry says she would approach the issue of disproportionate black and brown representation among incarcerated youth as a community health issue. She says she would use data to aim direct and specific resources — such as transitional housing, mental health services or family reunification — to young people in communities at risk. She also says she would look for opportunities to repurpose L.A.'s juvenile halls into transitional housing for youth with on-site services.
Wesson most recently finished an eight-year stint as L.A. City Council president, which he left in January to focus on his run for supervisor. Before that, Wesson, a Democrat, spent six years in the State Assembly, and was speaker from 2002 to 2004.
As L.A. City Council president, he's overseen the passage of notable legislation, including the $15 minimum wage, Measure H and HHH, and L.A.'s Social Equity program, which helps people from low-income neighborhoods with prior cannabis arrests launch new cannabis businesses.
As he held one of the most powerful seats in L.A. city government, he also drew criticism from some who say the council reduced opportunities for public debate and disagreement under his leadership. He's also clashed with fellow candidate Jan Perry during their time in City Council over redistricting.
On housing: As City Council president, Wesson opposed SB 50, the state bill that would have allowed for taller and more dense housing development near some transit hubs. Wesson said the bill would be "devastating" to communities of color and "change the face of mid-city Los Angeles." He's called for the creation of "anti-displacement zones" near some market-rate housing development projects to protect renters from predatory rent increases.
Wesson has also advocated for building affordable housing units on public land — in December 2019 the City Council approved his proposal to require new residential buildings on city-owned land to be 100 percent affordable.
On homelessness: As a city council member, he pushed forward plans for the city's first temporary homeless shelter under Mayor Garcetti's "bridge housing" program, although he was forced to move it from Koreatown to Lafayette Park after Koreatown residents — including fellow District 2 candidate Jake Jeong — protested against the initial proposed site.
In addition to his housing proposals, he says if elected supervisor, he would protect those on the verge of homelessness by creating a resource center to provide those people with career assistance and low-cost health care and child care services, as well as an emergency rental assistance program to provide loans to people at risk of being evicted.
On child welfare: Wesson has called the Department of Child and Family Services "deeply broken," citing the child abuse cases of Gabriel Fernandez and Anthony Avalos. He calls for using tracking programs to make DCFS accountable for completing investigations, home visits and background checks on time, mandatory training for employees and a reduction in caseloads. Wesson also says he will work to expand access to after-school programs, vocational training and mentoring for at-risk L.A. youth.
On juvenile justice: Wesson says it is "in the best interest of our youth to end the juvenile justice system as we know it." He says L.A. must focus on a model that prioritizes treatment over incarceration, and that he would use public land for transitional housing that could provide treatment services for these youth.
He also says he would expand community policing, use of body cameras, law enforcement de-escalation training and after-school and gang prevention programs.
L.A. Board of Supervisor Candidates on the Issues: Child Welfare, Juvenile Justice, Housing and Homelessness (Chronicle for Social Change)