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Election Spotlight: California State Assembly District 54

In the heart of the Californian legislative system, the California State Assembly is a key component in working with the governor to pass legislation. The Assembly encourages public participation and provides opportunities for testimony during committee reviews and paths for citizens to express their opinions regarding pending legislation through their Assembly Representative’s district office.


The race for District 13 hosts three candidates: Democratic candidates Mark Gonzalez, John Yi, and Republican Candidate Elaine Alaniz.




What is the California State Assembly?


The California State Assembly is the lower house of the California State Legislature, forming the entire Legislature with the upper house, the State Senate. There are 80 Assembly seats, all of which are elected. There are three major leadership roles in the Assembly, the Speaker of the Assembly (Robert Rivas), Majority leader (Cecilia Aguiar-Curry), and Minority leader (James Gallagher), with the Speaker as the chief leadership position. 


The State Assembly serves numerous vital functions, most notably:


  • Operating in two-year sessions, from introducing bills to debating bills in committee and advancement to the chamber floor (if approved). 

  • Legislation typically becomes effective on January 1 following its passing, with the exception of urgency measures, effective immediately after the governor signs them.

  • In committee hearings, the Assembly examines and debates bills that may become laws.

  • The Rules Committee decides which standing committee will hear or discuss a bill.

  • Committee leadership is determined by the Speaker of the Assembly 

  • The majority of the Assembly’s work is done by its standing committees focused on different policy issues affecting California’s residents.

  • To pass bills into law, a simple majority is most commonly required.

  • Other bills require a two-thirds majority (e.g. tax increases, urgency measures). 

  • The Assembly retains the exclusive power to initiate impeachment proceedings for state officials 


To find your State Assembly District and Representative, enter your street address, city, and zip code here: https://calmatters.org/legislator-tracker/home/, or https://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/. (Your personal information will not be stored!)



The Candidates


Mark Gonzalez - Democrat 


Mark Gonzalez is a civil rights advocate with previous experience as a community organizer. He currently holds the position of Chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, focused on making housing affordable, advancing environmental justice, making community college free, and expanding access to quality universal healthcare. 

In 2022, Gonzalez fought a Californian constitutional amendment targeting abortion care. In 2023, he helped pass new legislation granting all healthcare workers a minimum wage of $25 per hour. 


His campaign prioritizes reproductive freedom, economic justice, health equity, tackling homelessness, public safety, affordable housing, civil rights, and climate justice.

Gonzalez believes in securing universal healthcare across the board for California’s citizens, strengthened by his experience as president of a non-profit community healthcare clinic. He intends to increase investment in the Homeless Assistance Program (HAP) benefit pay for families at risk of being homeless. To address public safety, Gonzalez’s campaign emphasizes expanding California’s red flag laws to tackle gun safety, as well as increasing funding to firefighters and other public servants. Lastly, in order to combat rising climate change, Gonzalez has focused on investing in clean & renewable energy to create more well-paying jobs. 


To learn more about Mark Gonzalez, click here: https://www.markgonzalezforassembly.com/  



John Yi - Democrat 


Born in Los Angeles, California, Yi earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan in 2007 and a graduate degree from Georgetown University in 2011. His career experience includes service as a community organizer. While working at the American Lung Association, John supported a tobacco tax (Prop 56) and raised $1.4 billion to fight teen smoking and the tobacco industry. He also helped secure $1.75 million in annual CDC funding for children with disabilities. He currently holds a position as Executive Director of LA’s leading pedestrian advocacy nonprofit, Los Angeles Walks. 


Yi believes in building more community land trusts to open spaces for the people of District 54, obtaining and allocating resources toward mental health and homelessness, and increasing renting power. He also plans to focus this effort on fighting urban climate change by holding corporations accountable and improving public transit. 

His campaign also focuses on the wealth gap, emphasizing lowering the cost of living, strengthening community health, and building working-class people’s power. Yi plans to repeal the Costa Hawkins and Ellis Acts to grant local cities the power to expand rent control and increase affordable housing.


To learn more about John Yi, click here: https://www.johnforassembly.com/



Elaine Alaniz


Elaine Alaniz was born in Houston, Texas, with an associate degree from Los Angeles City College and Los Angeles Valley College in 2018 and 2020, respectively. Her career experience includes working in healthcare. She joined the workforce young, providing for her family as their primary breadwinner. 


Alainz is primarily concerned with community development, over-development & parking, education & trade, preparation, health & public safety, economic & budget responsibility, and securing the prosperous future of our posterity. 


Alainz believes appropriately funding and developing District 54’s vital infrastructure systems will increase the district's economic value. She plans to invest in local business permits to increase remodeling in outdoor spaces (such as dining) and digital training to boost local commerce. Her other dominant focus will be on building and using vacant facilities as youth recreation centers, gang reduction, and promoting more green space. Increasing familial home ownership, resolving traffic issues, increasing tax breaks, and transparency & accountability surrounding budget choices. Her campaign promotes pro-life, pro-law enforcement, and pro-second amendment stances, as well as the promotion of mental health services. 


To learn more about Elaine Alaniz, click here: https://elainereadytoserveassembly54.vote/ 



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