Former School Board Member David Vela Hits Ground Running in AD-51 Bid, Scores Major Endorsements from State Senator Ricardo Lara, Local Labor Union, Community Leaders; Begins Race with $50,000 War-Chest
LOS ANGELES, CA — Today, former School Board Member David Vela announced that he plans to run in the special election for California’s 51st State Assembly District seat, should the seat open up in 2017. Vela, a longtime supporter of incumbent, State Assembly Member Jimmy Gomez, only plans to run if Gomez is elected to Congress for California’s 34th House District seat, and thus vacates his 51st State Assembly seat.
Vela begins his campaign for State Assembly with a $50,000 war chest and powerhouse endorsements from the following:
- California State Senator Ricardo Lara
- International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 36
- Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees’ Member- Elect Gabriel Buelna
- Montebello Unified School Board Member Edgar Cisnero
- Gloria Chavez, City Terrace Coordinating Council President*
In launching his campaign, Vela, who plans to run a grassroots-driven, people and community-powered campaign, released the following statement:
“California personifies the resistance movement against the failing, disastrous and heartless Trump Administration. Rather than allowing Donald Trump to dictate the terms for how we, collectively, as a state and as a people, will function and live, instead we are embracing state’s rights and our ability to self-govern. That’s why we’re leading the charge on inclusive and progressive laws that protect the California Dream, from environmental protections to ensuring livable wages, workers’ rights policies, universal healthcare, safeguards for immigrants and sanctuary cities, affordable and accessible higher education, more investments in local neighborhood schools as well as scores of other social and economic justice laws.
“I’m running for the California State Assembly to continue the good work that State Assembly Member Jimmy Gomez has focused on in the state legislature, including helping to lead the resistance against Donald Trump. In the State Assembly, I’ll fight to advance healthcare for all, free community college, more affordable housing, solutions that help our homeless communities, further tackle climate change by combatting polluters, banning fracking and promoting renewable energy, pushing for big and bold infrastructure investments that reduce traffic and create good jobs, protect immigrants’ rights, and enhance California’s education system by hiring more classroom teachers, shrinking class sizes and giving our students the tools and resources they need to succeed and thrive. I plan to run a grassroots driven, people and community-powered campaign, that’s competitive, aggressive, and heavily focused on neighborhood level issues, districtwide issues and policies that impact our state as a whole. I look forward to hitting the ground running immediately and building the coalition of support that we need to win.”
In making their endorsements public, Senator Ricardo Lara, the Painters and Allied Trades District Council 36 and Gloria Chavez, City Terrace Coordinating Council President,* released the following statements:
“David Vela is smart, capable and hard working and will bring great compassion, heart and progress to the state legislature. He’ll be a fighter for the voiceless, for disadvantaged communities, and our communities’ most vulnerable. If Jimmy Gomez is elected to Congress, he’ll no doubt leave big shoes to fill. I’m proud to endorse my friend David Vela for the State Assembly because I believe strongly that he is the best choice to succeed State Assembly Member Gomez and to continue his work of bringing progress to the 51st District.”
— State Senator Ricardo Lara
“The working men and women of the Painters and Allied Trades are proud to strongly endorse David Vela because he’s been a leader, advocate and partner on behalf of working people. He fought to ensure project labor agreements, protect workers’ rights, advance local hiring, promote livable wages and more. We know he’ll be a tremendous force for working families in the State Assembly.”
— International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 36 Political Director Robert Smith
“David Vela is the embodiment of the community candidate in our City Terrace community. He’s spent much of his life in our local neighborhoods and he has a deep understanding of the issues that matter most to our local neighborhoods, from affordable housing to grappling with the growing homelessness crisis, to the need for more after-school programs, better schools and broader access to high quality healthcare coverage. I’m proud to endorse David Vela for the State Assembly.”
— Gloria Chavez, City Terrace Coordinating Council President*
A native Angeleno and a proud product of the Montebello Unified School District, Vela previously was elected and served on the Montebello Unified School District Board of Education which encompasses part of AD51, including as the governing body’s president. Currently he works as Senior Vice President at the Lee Andrews Group, a minority and women owned Public Outreach firm in Downtown Los Angeles and as a Professor at East Los Angeles College. He is also the founder of HONOR PAC, a political action committee that focuses on electing LGBT candidates statewide.
Prior to his current role, Vela served as Senior Legislative Assistant to former State Assembly Member Jackie Goldberg, handling Labor, Transportation and Economic Development. Under Governor Gray Davis, he was Senior Advisor to the Employment Development Department. Vela also spent 10 years as a Senior Deputy to Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, where he oversaw two billion dollars in capital infrastructure improvements in Unincorporated East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights. These projects included the East Los Angeles Civic Center, the Eastside Gold Line and the Whittier Boulevard Streetscape project.
While on the Board of Education, Vela created a perfect attendance program which improved the District’s Average Daily Attendance to over 96%. He also implemented an aggressive anti-bullying program focusing on LGBT students, contributed to increased API and AYP scores as well as a 94% district graduation rate. Additionally, Vela fought to provide livable wages for school employees and passed a Project Labor Agreement, ensuring local hire ordinances and good wages and benefits for workers.
He was born to a single mother and raised in the district. Vela’s family settled in Lincoln Heights from Del Rio, Texas, where his grandmother rented a two bedroom apartment on Baldwin Street. His mother attended Lincoln Heights High School. David was born in Boyle Heights at White Memorial Hospital and was raised part-time by his grandmother in East Los Angeles Unincorporated while attending Montebello Unified Schools. Vela also previously served as Vice President of the East LA Democratic Club and served many years as a Board Member of East Los Angeles Community Youth Center. He received his Bachelors of Science degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy with concentrations in Economics and International Relations from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.
*Titles for Identification Purposes Only.