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Morning Brief: Voting For Los Angeles County Sheriff

Graphic of a person's hand placing a ballot in a  ballot box that has the City of Los Angeles seal.
(Dan Carino
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Good morning, L.A. It’s June 3.

Happy Pride Month, everyone! There are so many cool events happening this weekend that I want to share with you. First, West Hollywood’s “WeHo Pride” starts today through Sunday, June 5. It’s IN PERSON for the first time in two years! It will be in and around West Hollywood Park. The WeHo Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival is already underway and goes until June 30.

Glenn Burke, the first openly gay Major League Baseball player, will be honored tonight at LGBTQ+ Pride Night at Dodger Stadium. It was a difficult journey for Burke and he left the sport early before dying from AIDS complications at 42. His family told the New York Times they hope tonight’s recognition will make him “partially whole”.

Now, I want to kick it off to my colleague Brianna Lee to share some very important Voter Game Plan information.

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Voter Game Plan: LA County Sheriff

The L.A. County Sheriff holds one of the most powerful elected offices in the county. The sheriff oversees the largest sheriff’s department in the U.S., and is elected directly by voters, in contrast to other law enforcement chiefs who are appointed by mayors or city councils. And Tuesday’s primary election is when voters get to weigh in on who should be L.A.’s next sheriff. 

Current Sheriff Alex Villanueva is running for reelection against eight challengers. But this isn’t one of those races where the incumbent is the obvious winner.

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Villanueva won the seat in 2018, positioning himself as a reformer with the backing of several progressive organizations. Four years in, he’s clashed repeatedly with the Board of Supervisors, resisted attempts to create more oversight for the department, and faced calls to resign from the Sheriff’s Civilian Oversight Commission and the L.A. County Democratic Party.

The next sheriff will have to wrestle with some big questions:

  • To what extent should the Sheriff’s department get involved with enforcing the anti-camping law? And how will the department coordinate its response with nonprofit organizations and social service workers? 
  • How should the Sheriff’s department get rid of deputy subgroups, also referred to by some as gangs? 
  • How should deputies respond to calls involving people experiencing a mental health crisis? Should they expand mental evaluation teams, which require more funding? Should they respond to nonviolent cases with unarmed clinicians instead of deputies? 

You can read our Voter Game Plan guide on the sheriff’s race to get to know all nine candidates’ platforms, endorsements, campaign funding, and answers to our questionnaire. 

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below the fold.

What Else You Need To Know Today

Before You Go...Black Surfers Will Ride the Waves in Huntington Beach

A Black man in an all black wetsuit on a white surfboard surfs a wave in the Pacific Ocean.
Surfer Kayitta Johnson is the founder @black.surfers
(Courtesy of Nate Fluellen )
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One thing about me, I'm going to be outside every chance I get. I also love learning about the dope, outdoorsy things that other Black folks are doing around L.A. Tomorrow, what could potentially be the largest gathering of Black surfers is taking place. It’s an event called A Great Day in the Stoke and the organizer is Nate Fluellen.

Fluellen’s been swimming his whole life and surfing for five years consistently. His goal is to inspire more Black people to get in the water and learn how to swim and surf (I am proud to say I recently learned to swim myself). This weekend, he’s expecting at least 500 people to show up. “It’s like a groundswell of multiple elements of why this event is impactul because it's, you know, gonna bring a spotlight to the black surf community that has been doing this since the 60s or earlier with Nick Gabaldon and Tony Corley,” said Fluellen. “It will be an opportunity for black people to see themselves en masse.”

On Saturday, there will be a surfing competition, surfing lessons, and beach yoga. Fluellen says Black Girl Sunscreen will be giving away products and Patagonia will be there to repair wetsuits. The free surfing lessons are sold out, but if you still want to learn how to surf, Color the Water is one of the organizations Nate mentioned that offers free lessons for the BIPOC community.

“I remember what it was like when I saw the photo of A Great Day in Harlem and a Great Day in Hip Hop, which is … where I took cues from for A Great Day in the Stoke,” said Fluellen. “So our goal is to get this image of three to five hundred black surfers so the kid in the Midwest like myself, or even in South Central LA to be like, ‘Oh, wow, there's black surfers. I want to go surfing’.”

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Corrected June 3, 2022 at 11:02 AM PDT
A previous version of this story misidentified the surfer as Nate Fluellen. The surfer in the photo is Kayiita Johnson.