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He is the first African American male to be elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas has defeated Councilman Bernard Parks and will be the next Supervisor of Los Angeles County's second district. Ridley-Thomas has a colorful history of service to the people of Los Angeles and prior to being the Supervisor-elect, he had been a city councilman, an assemblyman and of course, presently he represents the 26th state senatorial district. It is also important to note that before entering politics, in addition to being a schoolteacher, Ridley-Thomas served in the time-honored tradition as a community organizer--a position that was ridiculed by the Republicans at their national convention--as executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference-West.
As a community organizer, Ridley-Thomas joined the ranks of an illustrious group of men and women who labored tirelessly for the betterment of the community, including President-elect Barack Obama, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Speaker Karen Bass of the California State Assembly; Rev. Eric Lee of SCLC/West; and Willis Edwards, member of the NAACP national board who said, "I congratulate Mark Ridley-Thomas and I know he will be a fine supervisor and it's time for all of us to bring the community together on one accord."
As Ridley-Thomas will be replacing Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke, the Sentinel reached out to the 16-year veteran of the Board of Supervisors. Burke said, "I want to congratulate Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas on a successful campaign to replace me as the second district supervisor. I have instructed my staff to begin immediately to help his staff in the transition. The most important thing is to hit the ground running in serving the residents of the second district."
During the campaign, Ridley-Thomas had massive support from the unions and some in the community are now questioning whether or not he will be able to continue to serve as he has been especially since his margin of victory has been interpreted as a mandate. However, sources have reported that as far as the Supervisor-elect is concerned, such claims are specious, unworthy of a response and are just a case of sour grapes.
In addition to the union, Ridley-Thomas' support came from a wide range of community leaders, organizations and individuals which prompted the president of the county firefighters association to say, "he demonstrates steady, responsible and respectful leadership and make public safety a top priority."
One of the items fervently discussed during the campaign was the status and future of King-Drew Hospital. It has left the community and the surrounding areas without proper healthcare and was a high priority on the agenda of both candidates during the campaign. And though presumptuous, the reopening of King-Drew Hospital could be the benchmark of Ridley-Thomas' term as Second District Supervisor.
The Sentinel tried to reach Ridley-Thomas for comment, but was informed that he was out of town, possibly taking some time off with his family after a long campaign.