The District Without a Voice: Assembly District 39’s Special Election on Tuesday

On Tuesday, April 3rd, District 39 will be having a special election to fill the district’s empty Assembly seat. The Assembly candidate who won the election last year, Raul Bocanegra, only served about six months in the position before stepping down amid sexual harassment allegations. The allegations came to surface back in November 2017. As a result, for the last four months District 39, which encompasses the northeast valley’s Sylmar, San Fernando, Pacoima, Lake View Terrace, Sunland-Tujunga, Arleta, and parts of North Hollywood and Van Nuys, has not had a voice in Sacramento.

Since Bocanegra, announced his resignation many candidates have thrown in their hat for his seat. The first was Patty Lopez, who ran against Bocanegra in the 2017 race. She was also the incumbent serving in the Assembly from 2014-2016. Patty proudly considers herself a dedicated advocate for her community. Although she does not carry the big name endorsements, she does have one thing, and that’s her name. As she stated at a candidate forum on Wednesday, March 21st at Saticoy Elementary School, people know her name. They know who she is and what she stands for. And as an active member of the community, I do agree with this. People do know who Patty Lopez is and they know her reputation as a community advocate, but is that enough to get her re-elected? We shall see on Tuesday.

Another candidate who has caught a lot of attention in this once expected small election is Luz Rivas. Luz has a very impressive background, and she is a local who was raised by a single mother in the cities of Pacoima, Arleta, and San Fernando. After graduating from San Fernando High School, she went off to college at MIT and earned herself an electrical engineering degree, which she has recently been putting to use as a City of Los Angeles Public Works Commissioner. However, after returning from MIT, she decided to go back to school but this time at Harvard, where she earned a master’s degree in education. In 2011, Luz founded DIY Girls, a non-profit that teaches girls grades 5th-12th STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) Education in the Northeast Valley’s district and charter schools. This after school program has served over 2,000 young girls in our community. This program is in such high demand that there is a waiting list for any school that wishes to bring the program to their campus.

Antonio Sanchez is a Workforce Development Director for the IBEW Local 11, who is also running for Assembly. Antonio is a family man who believes in helping veterans and students in our community get the training that they need for highly skilled jobs. For the last five years, he has been working for the electrician’s union doing just that. Growing up in the valley, he attended Coldwater Canyon Elementary, Pacoima Middle School, San Fernando High School and later Cal State Northridge. He has experience working on neighborhood beautification projects and has attended many community tree planting events during his time working for Antonio Villaraigosa while he was mayor of Los Angeles.

Yolanda Anguiano has served her community through her public service and volunteer work. She’s done this through organizations like MEND and Homeboy Industries. Through her community work with the Mission Hills Neighborhood Council, she helped create  native parkways and green space to enhance the well-being of the community. Yolie, as you’ll see on her signs around town, has also helped the Sylmar Neighborhood Council with zoning to help local businesses grow. Yolie has proven through her long list of work experience that she is committed to the community that she was born in. She has stated that, if elected she would work on scholarships for first year college students. Having graduated from CSUN and USC, she knows the importance of a college education.

Patrea Patrick is a documentary producer and author, who has made films that explore the environment, politics, and the Federal Reserve. Through this work, she has exposed pollution of our water, lobbying and oversight by the FDA, which is to blame for GMOs in our food crops. She is an environmental activist who wants to focus on protecting the National Forest from the High Speed Rail project. She is also focused on education and wants to educate not incarcerate.

And finally, there is Ricardo Benitez, the only Republican running for Assembly. Ricardo is a small business owner who wants to restore Republican principles and processes to his party and to the state. Ricardo was a 2014 Republican candidate for District 18 of the California State Senate. He made it through the primary but was defeated by Hertzberg in the final election.

Lastly, I would like to mention that on Wednesday, March 21st, there was a Candidate Forum hosted and narrated by The League of Women Voters of Los Angeles along with help of Pacoima, Sylmar, Sunland-Tujunga, Noho, Sun Valley, and North Hollywood West’s Neighborhood Councils. All of the candidates mentioned above were in attendance, as well as myself and group of five charter moms that I work with. Before the forum began, as a group we submitted a candidate question about whether the candidates supported school choice.

Thankfully, at the end of the forum our question was asked, the candidates were told to answer the question with a simple Yes or No. Every candidate answered the question with a Yes, without any hesitation except for Patrea Patrick. Instead of a Yes or No, she asked “Are you talking about charter schools?” I have to admit that I was disappointed in her response because you could tell by her tone of voice and facial expression that she was struggling to answer the question. After that the narrator, Marilu, clarified what the question was asking by then stating that it meant a parent can choose any school that they feel is best for their child. With the clarification, Patrea finally answered Yes. At the end of the forum, I approached her and asked her about her response. Unfortunately, she does have a negative view on charter schools because her brother works a charter school and didn’t have positive things to say. I made sure to mention to her that is only one example, and there are many examples of great charter schools that are working in our board district and then I invited her to come visit my daughter’s charter school. I also shared some other facts and statistics about charter schools in our community, and she seemed impressed. At the end of our conversation, she said that I did not change her stance, but I did educate her. I feel that anyone running for Assembly in our district should be knowledgeable about charter school especially since we have about forty in our district. There are so many for a reason and that reason is because our traditional district schools have been failing us for many years.

Assembly District 39 has some good options in the above listed candidates. As a parent and concerned citizen, I hope that the community turns out to vote tomorrow so that we can have someone to serve the remaining months in Bocanegra’s term.

What do you think?

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Roxann Nazario

Roxann Nazario

Roxann Nazario is a single parent living in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. Born and mostly raised in the San Fernando Valley, Roxann experienced her own struggles as a student in LAUSD, growing up in North Hollywood. Roxann pushed through her struggles in school and right after high school she attended The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in downtown Los Angeles, where she received her Associate’s Degree in Interior Design.
Roxann made sure to play an active role in her daughter’s education, by becoming an active parent volunteer. From field trips, to book fairs, to starting a new parent group called, Parent Voice, at her daughter’s school. Wanting to get more involved and make a difference, she began to get civilly engaged in local elections by organizing parents in her community. Roxann is now a Parent Engagement Coordinator with Speak UP, where she works with parents in LAUSD’s Board District 3 and 6. Roxann recently became a Board Member on the Sylmar Neighborhood Council. And she proudly represents her Assembly District 39, in the California Democratic Party.
Roxann has been a blogger with La Comadre for two years and she is grateful to be a part of the La Comadre Network.

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