Educator and community organizer Isaac Bryan was sworn in to the Assembly Friday at the state Capitol in Sacramento after winning a special election to represent a district stretching from the Westside to Inglewood.
The Democrat had 49.62% of the vote according to semi-official results released election night May 18, but a count of nearly 8,000 unprocessed ballots completed last Friday raised his total to 50.78%, making him the winner in the six-candidate field without a runoff.
Bryan is the founding director of the UCLA Black Policy Project, which describes itself as a multifaceted, policy-oriented research initiative housed within the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies.
He co-chaired the campaign on behalf of Measure J, the charter amendment approved by voters in November requiring that a minimum of 10% of Los Angeles County’s unrestricted general funds be spent on housing, mental health treatment, jail diversion programs and other alternatives to incarceration.
“Passing Measure J was a real win for Los Angeles, and for me, but the morning after our win, I learned that one of my siblings had been arrested and charged in San Diego for actions that are now treated with a public health approach here in Los Angeles,” said Bryan, one of nine adopted siblings in a family of 15.
“That’s when I realized I had to run for state Assembly. The 54th Assembly District has the potential to lead the entire state of California.”
Bryan has advised Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and then-Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager on youth development and strategies aimed at reducing the number of people becoming homeless.
Garcetti tweeted congratulations to Bryan Friday, saying he “has been a force for change, equity, and justice in Los Angeles.”
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, tweeted Monday that Bryan’s “experience in advocating for justice and equity will be a huge benefit to the people of the 54th Assembly District.”
“We’re lucky to have you on board,” Rendon tweeted.
Bryan told KCRW-FM (89.9) in an interview that aired Tuesday that being an Assembly member “is going to allow me to take the skills of policy analysis, coalition building — all rooted and uplifting the community — and move policy at a faster rate.”
“And I also know that there are just literal votes missing on some key changes,” Bryan told the station. “There was a (police) decertification bill in the state Legislature last year that died in the Assembly because we didn’t have the right champions. That bill is back this year.”
Bryan was endorsed by Los Angeles County Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Holly J. Mitchell, former Supervisor Zev Yaroslovksy, Los Angeles City Councilmen Mike Bonin, Kevin De León, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Curren Price and Nithya Raman, Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors and the Oscar-, Emmy- and Grammy-winning rapper Common.
“I’m proud to endorse @IB2_Real today in the race for California’s 54th Assembly District,” Common tweeted.
“Isaac has been doing the work for years and I believe he will use this new position to continue to spark positive change in our communities,” Common tweeted March 4 in making the endorsement.
Bryan tweeted that he first met Common at California State Prison, Los Angeles County in Lancaster, where the rapper “was performing a show on the yard and bringing hope to everyone locked inside.”
“For years we’ve shared space organizing and fighting for justice,” Bryan tweeted.
The special election was necessitated by Kamlager’s election to the state Senate in a special election March 2, filling the vacancy caused by Mitchell’s election to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in November.
The 54th Assembly District consists of Baldwin Hills, Cheviot Hills, the Crenshaw district, Century City, Culver City, Ladera Heights, Mar Vista, Palms, Rancho Park, Westwood and parts of South Los Angeles and Inglewood.