Culver City Observer -

By David W. Myers
Contributing Editor 

Culver Assembly Rep Sets Big Sacto Agenda;

O’Leary Hints of Another Try at Public Office


Fresh off a solid victory in last week’s statewide primary elections, the assemblywoman who now represents Culver City and surrounding areas in the state Legislature is already preparing several proposals to tackle issues ranging from education to poverty and criminal justice reform.

Fewer than 48 hours after the June 5 election that Democrat Sydney Kamlager-Dove won with nearly 55 percent of the vote, she also introduced her very first piece of legislation in Sacramento—a bill to fast-track the construction of a new sports arena for basketball’s Los Angeles Clippers in Inglewood that she believes could create 30,000 full-time jobs in the South Bay, Culver City and neighboring communities.

The measure would essentially limit a judge’s ability to stop the proposed arena project only if it would present an “imminent threat” to public safety, or if it would adversely impact artifacts or unknown ecological material discovered at the site. The 20,000-seat facility would rise next to the refurbished Forum and the new football stadium, already under construction, that will become home of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers in 2020.

Kamlager-Dove, 45, won a special election in April to temporarily replace then-Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, who resigned late last year because of health problems. Her victory last week guarantees her at least seven more months in office, though she has indicated that she’ll run for a full two-year term in November’s general election against second-place finisher and fellow Democrat Tepring Piquado.

The 54th Assembly District covers a broad swath of communities west of downtown Los Angeles, from Crenshaw to Culver City and as far north as Westwood.

Born in Chicago, Kamlager-Dove graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from USC and later earned a master’s in arts management from the prestigious Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Penn.

Locally, she is perhaps best known for helping to expand a joint educational program between Culver City High School and West Los Angeles College that allows Culver High students to take college-level classes on their own campus. Kamlager-Dove was elected to the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees in 2015.

“I think that people responded to my experience in the [54th]] District,” she said after winning the election.

The assemblywoman was endorsed by several current and past Culver elected officials, including current Mayor Thomas Small and former mayors Jeff Cooper, Andrew Weissman and Mehaul “Michael” O’Leary.

O’Leary, who said he sold his popular Joxer Daly’s Irish Pub & Restaurant on Washington Boulevard to run for the open seat on the State Board of Equalization’s District 3, didn’t fare as well in last week’s elections as Kamlager-Dove did. O’Leary, who declined to state a party preference on the ballot, finished far behind winner G. Rick Marshall, a Republican.

“In retrospect, as an independent candidate without major funding resources and party endorsements, it was probably too big a field of candidates and too ambitious a jump into big league politics, where the 2 party system is still the main force to contend with,” O’Leary tweeted to his supporters after the votes were tallied.

O’Leary, though, also hinted that his political ambitions may not be over.

“Over the next few weeks I will re-evaluate my strategy for re-entering the political arena … our voter base and support has increased 10 fold since last getting elected to the Culver City, City Council in 2012,” he wrote in his message. “I am confident that we can build on that support and promise you that I will never give up the good fight on your behalf.”

Meantime, Culver officials are anxiously looking forward to seeing how much tax money that the city will receive from a variety of state bond measures that were approved last week. Many were backed by environmental groups, which enjoyed one of their best election results ever.

The biggest statewide victory for conservation groups was Prop. 68, which will allocate $4.1 billion for parks, water projects and other “green” programs. Much of the money will be allocated to build or renovate soccer and baseball fields, basketball courts, bike paths and public swimming pools.


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