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“For the residents of the 59th I intend to work very hard to create jobs for my constituents,” declared Reggie Jones Sawyer, the leading candidate to become the first member of the newly formed 59th Assembly District.
The district will replace the 44th AD, and Jones-Sawyer will replace Assembly member Mike Davis who faces term limits at the end of the year. In an exclusive one on one with the Los Angeles Sentinel, Jones-Sawyer lays out his vision for the 59th, the challenges he sees in Sacramento and how his whole life has prepared him for the office.
“I intend to help promote major infrastructure jobs, helping people to get into the union trades and work on revitalizing state facilities,” Jones-Sawyer said.
“While these jobs are always short term, after they have completed this process they will have options. They can go back to the union halls for other jobs or they can possibly be hired by the state or they can work in private industry or start their own construction companies. What they will be is a part of the state’s economic recovery, paying taxes, buying and paying for good and services. With my plan we will have taught a person how to fish rather than just giving him a fish dinner.
“Second, I want to help create new sources of revenue for the state, primarily through our real estate. The State of California owns all kinds of businesses, we own golf courses, race tracks, stadiums, theatres, parking structures etc. but I don’t know that we do a very good job of operating them and producing revenue with them. I want to push for creating partnerships with the private sector where they operate venues in a more productive and efficient way so that the state can reap the benefits of these facilities. This is a new economic climate in California and we have got to start thinking of new and more productive ways to create revenue…”
Jones-Sawyer has worked for the city of Los Angeles for more than 20 years and has managed a 15 billion dollar real estate portfolio as the Asst. Manager of General Services for the city. He says that in these tough economic times he has saved the city millions of dollars in city transactions and has had to manage the transition of now dissolved community redevelopment agency (CRA). In managing these projects he believes he has created revenue for the city, which has gone on to fund parks, police officers, fire fighters, public safety officers and education programs.
“All of this is the same work that I intend to do for my district and for the state when I am elected to the legislature,” he said.
“My life’s experiences have prepared me for this job. And I don’t believe that there is anyone more prepared to lead my district at this time than [I am].”
Jones-Sawyer comes from a long line of advocacy. His family played a significant role in the civil rights movement. His uncle, Jefferson Thomas was one of the Little Rock Nine who integrated Central High School in 1957.
Jones-Sawyer has always been involved in community organizations and local politics; he is a life member of the NAACP and the past chairman of SCLC. He has served as president of New Frontier Democratic Club (the oldest and largest African American political club in the United States) and has served as the president of USC Black Alumni Association and vice president of Los Angeles Association of Black Personnel. He is also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and 100 Black Men of Los Angeles.
Jones-Sawyer credits a lot of his community work to a group of mentors who showed him the importance of being involved and giving back to the community.
“Tom Bradley, Randall Bacon, Bill Elkins, Willis Edwards and Lillian Mobley all played significant rolls in mentoring me and [helping me to] understand the importance of reaching back and helping those less fortunate. Those individuals were always pushing me to do more, be more and give more to our people and our community. They lived their lives showing me what a difference you can make when you devote your life to the betterment of others,” he said.
In the assembly he sees himself as someone who can bring a new vision to an often old and stale way of doing business.
A majority of the local political leaders in Southern California as well as every member of the California Legislative Black Caucus have endorsed Jones Sawyer. Two of his biggest advocates are Senator Curren Price, president of the Legislative Black Caucus and Assembly Member Isadore Hall. Both men have been long time friends and supporters of Jones-Sawyer and each believes that he will bring to Sacramento the type of vision and leadership needed to move the 59th Assembly District and the State of California forward in the coming years.