Endorsement: Rick Chavez Zbur for Assembly

Rick Chavez Zbur
Attorney and activist Rick Chavez Zbur, shown outside the Out Here Sexual Health Center in Baldwin Hills on July 20, calls for better measures to combat the spread of the MPX virus.
(Wesley Lapointe / Los Angeles Times)

Two dynamic and passionate community activists are running in the Nov. 8 election to represent the Westside’s 51st Assembly District, which includes Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Hollywood, Hancock Park and Westwood. The area’s current assemblyman, Richard Bloom, is not seeking reelection, part of a wave of resignations and retirements this year that will reshape a large swath of the Legislature.

Democrat Rick Chavez Zbur is an attorney with a long background in environmental law, LGBTQ civil rights advocacy and California Democratic Party politics. A former executive director of Equality California, a leading gay rights group, he’s well-versed in how to effectively push legislation through in Sacramento. He has helped pass dozens of state laws, including legislation that makes it easier to get HIV prevention drugs and reduces criminal penalties for people who expose others to the disease. When COVID-19 upended life in 2020, Zbur urged passage of a new law requiring the state to track data showing how the virus affects the gay community. More recently, he has been outspoken in pushing for more vaccines to prevent the spread of the MPX virus.

Zbur began his career as a lawyer at a prominent firm, Latham & Watkins, where he spent about 30 years working on issues such as air quality and coastal development. He demonstrated a commitment to advancing clean energy and environmental justice during two decades on the board of California Environmental Voters, the political arm of the state’s environmental movement. His political resume dates back to 1996, when he ran for Congress unsuccessfully, but broke new barriers for gay candidates.

The L.A. Times’ editorial board endorsements for statewide ballot measures, elected offices in Los Angeles city and county, L.A. Unified School District board, L.A. county superior court, statewide offices, the state Legislature and U.S. House and Senate seats.

Sept. 8, 2022


His opponent is fellow Democrat Louis Abramson, an astrophysicist who sits on the Central Hollywood Neighborhood Council. Abramson jumped into community service after Donald Trump was elected president in 2016 and he realized he wanted to be more engaged in addressing societal problems than he was studying the ultraviolet output of galaxies. He organized a coalition to reach out to people living on the streets and try to connect them with housing and services. Amid widespread shutdowns during the early stage of the pandemic, Abramson led efforts to deliver food to elderly people and conduct census counts of homeless people when the county paused doing it. His campaign is largely driven by what he sees as the failure of existing bureaucracies to get many homeless people housed.

Abramson and Zbur are both progressives who want to decrease homelessness, curb climate change and pass tougher gun laws. With similar positions on most issues, the question for voters is really one of experience. Abramson shows promise as a community leader, and we encourage him to continue building on his record of service. But in this election, voters would be better served by Zbur. His expertise in an array of policy areas and experience with the legislative process have prepared him to be an effective lawmaker from Day One. Voters should feel confident sending him to Sacramento.