Rick Chavez Zbur is running to represent AD50 in the state assembly

While the election to represent California’s 50th Assembly District is still 18 months away, the race is already heating up with candidate Rick Chavez Zbur clinching an influential endorsement from U.S. Senator Alex Padilla.

AD50 has been represented by Richard Bloom since 2012, who previously served on Santa Monica City Council for 13 years. In January, Bloom announced that he is running for the L.A. County Board of Supervisors in 2022, freeing up his assembly seat for a political newcomer.

Zbur announced his run for AD50 on March 30, drawing on his experiences as an environmental lawyer and the Executive Director of LGBTQ+ civil rights organization Equality California. Santa Monica College Trustee and UCLA-Harbor physician Sion Roy announced his candidacy on April 22, citing a need for more medical professionals in government.

Both candidates launched early campaigns and have attracted scores of endorsements from local leaders. However, gaining the support of Senator Padilla, who assumed Vice President Kamala Harris’s former position in January, is a notable accomplishment for Zbur. 

“My friend Rick Chavez Zbur is exactly the type of leader we need in the Assembly, and I’m proud to support his campaign,” said Padilla, in a statement released with the announced endorsement. “I’ve worked closely with Rick over the years to combat climate change, advance civil rights and make healthcare more affordable.”

In his role at the helm of Equality California, Zbur said he worked closely with Padilla on a range of civil rights issues, including expanding voting rights for LGBTQ+ individuals and training poll workers to meet the needs of people who have gone through name or gender changes. 

“I was elated and very honored,” said Zbur in regards to Padilla’s announcement. “He’s someone that I admire and respect and I am very grateful for his support.”

Zbur added that he was also especially proud to receive an endorsement from L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who is a personal hero of his. 

In addition to civil rights issues, Zbur has a keen interest in healthcare reform. His decision to run for public office was spurred on in part by conversations held with his sister, who passed away from ALS last September.

While Zbur’s sister was a middle class real estate agent and a homeowner, she was unable to afford the medical care she needed under her insurance. She lost her job and had to move into an assisted care facility, because it was too expensive to receive treatment at home.

“She made me promise that I was going to try to find a role in public service,” said Zbur. “The decision was also guided by challenges my sister faced with an inadequate social safety net for people living with disabilities.”

Zbur also has a longstanding passion for addressing the climate crisis. Prior to joining Equality California, he worked as an environmental lawyer and has served on the Board of the California League of Conservation Voters for over 20 years. 

In the first 10 days following his candidacy announcement, Zbur raised over $100,000. He entered the campaign with an additional $200,000 of cash-on-hand, having previously opened an account for a potential LA City Attorney run. 

These numbers are indeed impressive, but with over 550 days to go before the election, the race is still very much anyone’s game. 

Clara@smdp.com