Agenda for a Just Future,Economic & Housing Justice,Environmental & Climate Justice,Youth & Transformative Justice

After a groundbreaking election for LA Progressives, the hard work of governance begins

March 2, 2023
By Andres Magaña

This past year’s election produced an historic crop of victories. The Los Angeles political landscape has seen changes big and small that will shape policy for years to come.

In the City of Los Angeles, voters continued to show their support for Care First approaches to community safety. They embraced candidates who espoused a more progressive approach, electing Karen Bass as their Mayor, Kenneth Mejia as Controller, and new councilmembers Hugo Soto-Martinez, Eunisses Hernandez, and Katy Young Yaroslavsky over more conservative opponents.

At the County level, progressive grassroots demands to address concerns about law enforcement and incarceration practices that have harmed communities of color yielded big changes. The broad coalition that has put Los Angeles on the leading edge of justice reform safety helped vote out incumbent sheriff Alex Villanueva in favor of Robert Luna, and Lindsey Horvath won an open seat as Supervisor by embracing many approaches backed by Liberty Hill’s grantees in the community safety space. Voters also elected two public defenders to the LA County Superior court — the first two public defenders this County has elected to the bench.

This progressive sentiment carried over to ballot measures as well. The Liberty Hill-backed Measure ULA passed by double-digit margins in LA City, ensuring that nearly $1 billion a year in new funding will flow to tenant protections and housing affordability. Pasadena’s Measure H passed to enact strong rent control protections in a city where elected officials have long resisted such measures. LA County Measure A strengthened civilian control over the Sheriff’s department, empowering the Board of Supervisors to impeach and remove the sheriff for cause with a supermajority vote.

A few months past the election, these changes are already showing new approaches to policy. Mayor Bass — part of the Liberty Hill family for decades — swiftly offered city-provided motel rooms to hundreds of people living on the streets, with the long-term promise of permanent housing, through her “Inside Safe” initiative. City Councilmembers Yaroslavsky, Hernandez, and Soto-Martinez helped lead the charge to replace the City’s COVID emergency tenant protections with permanent tenant protections to help protect against eviction. Councilmember Hernandez has put renewed attention on the expansion of unarmed mental health response for mental health crises. Sheriff Luna has already moved to disband an investigative unit his predecessor created to dig for dirt on political opponents.

All these officials and initiatives drew on the work of grassroots community-based organizations. Their continued success depends upon maintaining and strengthening that connection. From ideas to implementation, the policy results that produce long term change come from organizing to get those who have been “closest to the pain, closest to the power.”

As always, we’ll be here to help that happen.

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