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Former Assemblyman Roderick “Rod” Wright is looking to jump back into the political arena, this time as a California State Senator for the 25th Senate District.
Wright was elected to the California State Assembly in 1996, representing the 48th Assembly District, which covered much of south Los Angeles County. From 1998 until 2002 Wright served as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce, which held legislative jurisdiction over electricity, natural gas, telecommunications, private water corporations and other issues, related to commerce.
Wright has been recognized for his work in the areas of public safety, education, energy and utilities, small business, family law and consumer privacy.
The Washington High School and Pepperdine University graduate passed nearly 100 pieces of legislation, 75 of which were signed into law, while he was an Assemblyman. His legislation covered a wide range of issue areas, such as public safety, career education, renewable energy and foster care.
Wright was recognized as one of the most effective legislators in Sacramento and was named “Legislator of The Year” by the County of Los Angeles, the Municipal Power Association, the California Chief Probation Officers and the Career Technical Education Teachers Association.
Wright, who grew up in South Los Angeles, believes that there is a lack of leadership in terms of healthcare at the state level.
“In this district we’ve lost three hospitals in less than four years,” Wright said.
Wright wants to bring back vocational education to the school district.
“There is a focus on sending a number of kids to college, and that is good,” Wright said. “But most kids do not go to college, even in White schools. But the advantage that they (White students) have is that they often leave high school with some type of skill that allows them to go and get jobs. So the fact that they did not go to college is not a handicap.”
Wright points out that many Black kids do not leave high school with a skill.
“We used to teach vocational education, but we stopped, which was a huge mistake,” Wright said. “The idea that everybody was going to go to college was never achievable. For years we were able to do both (prepare students for college and teach vocational education), and do it very successfully.
Wright has plans to curb gang violence.
“I firmly believe that the best avenue to fight gang violence is to get jobs for gang members, and other things that create responsible adulthood,” Wright said. “I think that most of the young African Americans and Latinos, when presented with an option of being able to have a job and a house and a family, would take that over being in a gang. We are not presenting the opportunities for hope and we are not presenting a way for them to see that there are opportunities in front of them. So they look and say that nobody is going to help me so I’m going to go out and get my own. The result of that is that we have gang violence and drug sales.
“Young men do not have hope. If you do not have hope you do not believe that there is a job for you, and you are not aware that there are other options for you. We are going to have to refocus education so that we can say to somebody, if you graduate from this program you’ll be an automobile mechanic, or a plumber, or you will be what ever it is that you like to do. You can make money doing this so you won’t have to be a gang member.”
Wright points out that for many young men, gangs have more to offer than schools. Community leaders wanted to avoid tracking, where many Black students were tracked into the vocational arts. The theory was that without vocational classes, Black students would be taken out of the shop class and would go to UCLA. But that is not the case.
“The only increase for Blacks and Latinos have been in the prison,” Wright said. “Given a choice between somebody being tracked into San Quentin (prison) or being a electrician, I’ll take the electrician. And the fact that you become an electrician does not foreclose the opportunities to go to college if you choose too. Tom Bradley was a police officer. He went to college at night, and became a lawyer while he was a police officer.”
Wright has a long list of endorsers. Every mayor in the 25th Senate District is supporting him, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Inglewood Mayor Roosevelt F. Dorn, and Compton Mayor Eric J. Perrodin.