By Sam Dorn

Democrat Sebastian Ridley-Thomas defeated his two opponents in a special election to California's 54th Assembly District early last month, with over 60 percent of the vote. Christopher Armenta, the former mayor of Culver City, came in second with 35 percent of the vote, followed by real estate broker John Jake who garnered four percent of the vote. The seat was previously held by now-State Senator Holly Mitchell, who resigned in September to assume her seat in the Senate.

Ridley-Thomas was the heavy favorite to win the seat from the beginning. His father is Mark Ridley-Thomas, the chairman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, as well as a former state senator and Los Angeles city councilman. With his father's help, the younger Ridley-Thomas was able to raise over $600,000, over six times as much as Armenta, who brought in less than $100,000.

Many of Los Angeles' Democrats quickly rallied around Ridley-Thomas' candidacy. Among the names on his lengthy endorsement list were Governor Jerry Brown, both of California's United States senators, four current or recent members of the Los Angeles City Council, Holly Mitchell, and numerous members of the State Assembly from neighboring districts.

The 54th Assembly District covers all of Culver City, as well as Inglewood, Ladera Heights and a portion of the west side of Los Angeles including Westwood.

At his election party, Ridley-Thomas credited his victory to the voters: "The people of the 54th Assembly District have spoken with their ballots. They want jobs. They want quality education for their children. They want access to affordable healthcare. They elected me to deliver results on those important issues. Tonight, I tell the people of the 54th Assembly District… I will deliver."

Ridley-Thomas was sworn in to the Assembly on December 10th.

Data courtesy of the Los Angeles Board of Elections

Candidate Profiles

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas

Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D-54) became one of they youngest men to ever be sworn into the Assembly, at age 26.

Prior to joining the Assembly, Ridley-Thomas spent his career involved in politics. After graduating from Morehouse College with a degree in political science - along with his twin brother, Sinclair - Ridley-Thomas, began his career as a California State Senate Fellow. He later went on to serve as the political director for the California Legislative Black Caucus.

For the past four and a half years, Ridley-Thomas has worked as an aide to former state senator and current Los Angeles city councilman Curren Price, in a variety of different roles. Most recently he served as Price's Public Policy Director.

Christopher Armenta

Christopher Armenta, the second place finisher in the special election, is a lifelong Culver City resident. An accountant by trade, Armenta has spent much of his life involved in Culver City politics.

As a volunteer, Armenta served in the Culver City Homeowner’s Association, as Commissioner of the Culver City American Youth Soccer Organization, and as a member of Friends of the Culver City Animals group.

In 2002, Armenta began his career as an elected official when he was voted in as the city clerk. Armenta served as clerk until 2008 when he gained a seat on the city council. In 2010, Armenta became the mayor of that body and continued as such until leaving office in 2012..

John Jake

John Jake is the founder and current president of John Jake & Company, a residential and commercial real estate firm. Additionally, Jake is an active volunteer in the community.

In 2008, Jake joined the Olympic Park Neighborhood Council and in 2010 was elected vice president. In 2012, he became President. Jake has also worked with the police force to reduce violence. As such, Jake instigated the Queen Anne Park Recreation Center's “Cameras in the Park” initiative, which led to the installation of cameras in the park to deter crime.

Politically, Jake has worked on the campaigns of President Barack Obama, Senator Holly Mitchell, Councilman Herb Wesson and Los Angles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

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