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Ridley-Thomas wins special election for Assembly seat

Ridley-Thomas wins special election for Assembly seat
Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, left, is shown in a 2011 photo with his father, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, mother Avis and twin brother Sinclair. (Leroy Hamilton, photo courtesy of the Sebastian Ridley-Thomas campaign.)

SACRAMENTO – Bolstered by help from his powerful father, City Council aide Sebastian Ridley-Thomas beat two fellow Democratic candidates in a special primary election Tuesday for a Los Angeles-area seat in the state Assembly.

The vote tally on election night gave Ridley-Thomas 60% of the vote, well beyond the simple majority needed to avoid a Feb. 4 runnoff with former Culver City Mayor Christopher R. Armenta, who finished second with 36% of the vote. The third-place finisher, with 4% of the vote, was John Jake, president of the Olympic Park Neighborhood Council.

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If the results hold after the counting of hundreds of provisional ballots, Ridley-Thomas would fill the vacancy left when former Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell won election to the state Senate in September.

"The people of the 54th Assembly District have spoken with their ballots," Ridley-Thomas said in a victory speech to 200 supporters at an election night party in the Crenshaw District. "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."

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Ridley-Thomas, 26, had help in the campaign from his father, Mark Ridley-Thomas, a former state senator who is a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

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The candidate was able to raise more than $600,000 for his campaign, outspending  Armenta, who raised less than $80,000, and Jake, who brought in less than $10,000. Ridley-Thomas also had endorsements from Gov. Jerry Brown, Mitchell and City Councilman Curren Price, for whom he works as an aide.

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The 54th Assembly District includes all or portions of Baldwin Hills, Century City, Crenshaw, Culver City, Inglewood, Jefferson Park, Ladera Heights, Leimert Park, Mar Vista, Mid City, View Park-Windsor Hills, West Los Angeles and Westwood.

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Ridley-Thomas has worked for more than four years for Price, mostly as a legislative aide when Price was a state senator. Armenta, 49, is an accountant. Jake, 47, is a real estate broker.

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