By Joe Piasecki
If the people spoke during Tuesday’s special election to fill an open state Assembly seat representing Mar Vista, Del Rey, Culver City and other Westside communities, it might have been to ask whether anyone had heard there was an election going on.
Of the Assembly district’s 274,091 registered voters, only 18,838 bothered to cast a ballot, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder’s office.
That’s a turnout of just 6.87%.
But it was enough to determine a winner.
In his first-ever political campaign, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas — a Democrat and son of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas — cruised to victory over two underfunded opponents, also Democrats.
The 25-year-old won a seat in the state Legislature with a decisive 60% of the vote by amassing a mere 11,182 ballots, according to county reports.
Accountant and former Culver City Mayor Christopher Armenta, 49, followed Ridley-Thomas with 36% of the vote, or 6,706 ballots.
Real estate broker and Olympic Park Neighborhood Council President John Jake, 47, trailed the pack with 4% of the vote, or 744 ballots.
More voters cast votes by mail than at the ballot box. According to the county, 7,487 turned up at the polls and 11,351 voted by mail.
State Assembly members represent more than 460,000 residents.
As of a month ago, Ridley-Thomas had raised nearly $600,000 — nearly 10 times more than his opponents largely self-funded campaigns combined. He had also garnered endorsements from Gov. Jerry Brown and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.
The donors list for Ridley-Thomas included unions as well as global entertainment, energy and auto companies. The list also included business leasers Austin Beutner, Eli Broad, Steve Soborof and Rick Caruso as well as numerous Democratic state officials.
Brown called the special election earlier this year after the seat’s previous occupant, Holly Mitchell, won election to the state Senate seat that had previously belonged to Curren Price and, before Price, Mark Ridley-Thomas.
Price is now a member of the Los Angeles City Council and Sebastian Ridley-Thomas works as his education deputy.