By Sue Favor
LOS ANGELES — Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager made it official Dec. 18, as she filed to run for the 30th state Senate District seat left vacant by new county Supervisor Holly Mitchell.
Kamlager, who represents the 54th District in the state Assembly, announced last month that she would try to make the jump to fill the seat of Mitchell, who was elected to the county Board of Supervisors in November.
Before her election to the Assembly in 2018, Kamlager was Mitchell’s district director. She said she would love to again serve the area that includes a large part of South Los Angeles, Century City and Culver City.
“I’ve known Holly for 20 years as a mentor and a sister friend,” Kamlager said. “I worked on her campaign and was her manager when she first ran for the Assembly.
“This would be an opportunity to come home to a district that I helped to serve, as her district director. This would be an opportunity to continue my work and expand on the leadership she offered the district.”
A March 2 special election will decide the successor, unless there is no clear majority winner. In that case, a runoff election will be May 4. Kamlager said that so far, she is the only candidate who has filed.
“I will kick off my campaign the first week in January, and then it will be a sprint to March 2,” she said.
A strong advocate of criminal justice reform, Kamlager is most proud of her work on Assembly Bill 1950, which became law in September. It shortens the length of probation in both misdemeanor and felony cases.
“Probation is a huge component in how there are so many pathways into the incarceral system for people of color,” Kamlager said. “Before this bill, people could be on probation for years and years, and (thus) tethered to the threat of prison and at the mercy of the court. The longer people are on probation, the less chance they have to be successful.”
Kamlager also looks to continue work on transportation issues; in finding solutions in the housing crisis which often leads to homelessness; and several other issues.
“I will work on legislation to decriminalize hallucinogenic drugs, and I will take a second look at sentencing bills, especially those where women tend to be incarcerated for long periods of time,” she said.
Kamlager is also passionate about legislation that will blunt the effects of climate change, which she said disproportionately impacts urban and vulnerable communities. And education is a top priority.
“I want to focus on disparities in the educational system,” she said. “As a stepmother, I have seen what it is like for school-aged kids to have to manage through distance learning. This will have ripple effects on the economy and our ability to have successful communities.”
Besides continuing her work on district issues, Kamlager said the chance to serve in the Senate would also be a boon for inclusion, as Mitchell was the only Black woman there.
“This would be an opportunity to maintain a level of diversity in the state Senate, because with Holly gone and (Vice President-elect) Kamala Harris gone, there are no Black women in the state Senate and none in the U.S. Senate,” Kamlager said.
“I would hope I could move the needle there.”
Sue Favor is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers, who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.