In June 2016, there will be a primary election in Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe’s 4th Supervisorial District. Unless one candidate receives over 50 percent of the vote in June, the top two candidates will advance to a run off in the November 2016 general election, the candidate who wins the election will most likely hold this seat for 12 years, until Nov. 30, 2028.
Currently this seat includes three dominant areas: the coast from San Pedro to Venice; the city of Long Beach; and the San Gabriel Valley/south county area from Lakewood to Diamond Bar with a population of nearly 2 million.
In 2011, Democrats had 15 percent higher voter registration than the Republicans. This Democratic registration strength in comparison with the Republican registration should increase by June 2016 and even more by November 2016, with the presidential election attracting more voters.
Latinos were 28.7 percent of all registered voters in the district in 2011 and should increase to over 32 percent by November 2016. The eligible pool of Latino voters was 32.8 percent in 2011 and should be close to 35 percent by November 2016. White eligible voters should be approximately 39 percent in November 2016.
The only viable Democratic San Gabriel Valley candidate is Sen. Tony Mendoza, who represents more than 750,000 of the residents of the district. He would not have to give up his district to run and has demonstrated an ability to raise money. He was successful in overcoming a well-financed campaign against him for state Senate in the 2014 election.
There will be other Democrats running for this district most likely from other parts of the district.
There should be several Republican candidates running from various parts of the district. It will be tough for them to win in a district where there are significantly more Democrats than Republicans and where the election will occur in a high-Democrat turn out presidential election year.
Mendoza’s potential front-runner status in the race has been ignored in the media. Latino Democrats and other Democrats from the San Gabriel Valley have been quiet. If they do not speak up soon then we will most likely not have a candidate who will focus on issues affecting the San Gabriel Valley.
Why is it important to elect a San Gabriel Valley Latino to District 4? There are three key issues:
1. Transportation, particularly the fair allocation of Measure R dollars and construction of light rails;
2. The need for a new public hospital in east San Gabriel Valley, to meet unmet needs and to fulfill promises made in 2000 when a much smaller county/USC hospital was built with the promise of a new hospital in east San Gabriel Valley;
3. The safe redevelopment of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers so as to protect south county cities from future flooding, flood insurance and rate increases and fair access to funds for developing riverfront recreational opportunities.
In a county with approximately 50 percent of the residents Latino and with Latinos projected by 2020 to have the same number of potential voters as whites in Los Angeles County, it is important that two of the five supervisors be Latino, instead of the current one Latino supervisor.
The time is now for San Gabriel residents to speak out. They should encourage Sen. Mendoza to run for this district.
Alan Clayton is a redistricting consultant who lives in San Gabriel Valley. The column was first published in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.