Fourteen local progressives are running to represent the Westside as delegates to the California Democratic Party.
The election may not be well known even among active voters, but candidates say it is crucial in deciding the future of the nation’s largest and most influential Democratic Party. The slate of seven men and seven women, ten of whom hail from Santa Monica, want to push the party in a more progressive direction and ensure it resists federal policies from President Donald Trump’s administration.
Registered Democrats can vote for the slate from Assembly District 50 (AD50), which stretches from Malibu to Hollywood, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 27 at the Santa Monica College Humanities Building. Voters not already registered as Democrats can register on-site.
Slate members said they have a diverse set of political priorities but all want to push for the policies Santa Monica is known for, such as rent control and action on climate change, at the state level.
“Santa Monicans need to know their voice is being heard in Sacramento,” said Rent Control Board Commissioner Caroline Torosis. “We pride ourselves on our city’s progressive policies and we can show the state and the country that these are the paths forward.”
Jon Katz, president of the Santa Monica Democratic Club and a three-term delegate, said voters across the state will have the chance to decide the future of the Democratic Party by electing delegates, who will elect the party chair in the spring.
“We need to now decide what the future of the party is going to be. Is it going to be more of the same moderate and tepid response to Trump, or are we going take a really bold stance and stand up for issues we really care about?” Katz said. “Our slate has a really strong record and stance on issues like climate change, clean money, rent control and healthcare for all, and we want to take the party in that direction.”
Some slate members are elected officials, such as Santa Monica City Councilmembers Sue Himmelrich and Kevin McKeown. Others are newer to politics, such as Isabel Storey, who joined progressive network Indivisible after Trump was elected and has since worked to flip seven California swing districts in the November 2018 election.
Storey said she hopes AD50 Democrats who were invigorated by the midterms carry that momentum into less-publicized races and get involved in politics however they can.
“So many women who were relatively new to politics were elected in the midterms and I followed that trajectory on a smaller level,” she said. “I think it’s important that more delegates are ordinary people.”
The slate also features candidates experienced in crafting state policy. Marcy Winograd, a delegate for two years, was on the executive board of the California Democratic Party and founded the state’s Progressive Caucus. She’s hoping to work with state senator Ben Allen, co-chair of the state’s Environmental Caucus, to develop bolder climate change and environmental legislation.
Winograd reiterated that the slate is seeking to push the party in a more progressive direction and make it a model for the rest of the nation. She said her priorities align with the legislation the left wing of the national Democratic Party is advocating for, such as Medicare for All and a Green New Deal.
“Together, we have the kind of progressive vision that a lot of Santa Monica voters share and would like to see that vision represented in the state party,” she said.