Councilmember Steve Neal, Three Others Face Off for 64th District State Assembly Seat

64th

Four Democratic candidates—including one Long Beach and one Carson councilmember, a school board president and a youth advocate—from across south Los Angeles County are hoping to bring their public service experience to the state assembly’s 64th District when Isadore Hall’s term runs out this year. 

While most of the City of Long Beach falls under the 70th Assembly District, a portion of North Long Beach is actually within the 64th District, which covers around 214,000 registered voters in Compton, Carson, Lynwood, Long Beach and surrounding cities. Around 40,000 of those voters reside in Long Beach’s 9th District with the district’s boundary being Del Amo Blvd. on the south and Atlantic Ave. on the east. 

9th District Councilmember Steve Neal announced his candidacy for the assembly last summer, after he raised $100,000 from within his district in a few short months. The union organizer and pastor has spent his tenure on City Council creating new neighborhood connectivity, removing blight from liquor stores and streets and helping spur development of parks and public spaces as part of what he has called “The Uptown Renaissance.”

“As assemblymember for the 64th District, I will be a strong and progressive voice for those I seek to represent,” Neal said last year. “I will continue to work collaboratively with all District stakeholders to enrich and build each of our vibrant and distinct communities.”

Running against Neal in the June 3 primary is Micah Ali, president of the Compton Unified School District Board of Trustees, Carson Councilmember Mike Gipson and youth advocate Prophet Walker.

Ali, who studied at Yale and Stanford, was first elected to the Compton Unified School District Board of Trustees in 2007 and has pushed for early education and arts access for students. 

A former union representative and police officer, Gipson was first elected to the Carson City Council in 2005 and was most recently re-elected in 2013. He is currently the chief of staff for the chairman of the California State Board of Equalization and says if elected, he wants to bring back redevelopment and fight blight in the district. 

Walker, who helped start a program to help incarcerated youth graduate from two-year colleges, sees infrastructure as a key component to bettering the district. To him, education and jobs are key to keeping kids out of jail.

High unemployment rates and need for economic revitalization will be major issues for whoever does win the seat, as the 64th District is one of the most distressed in the state. The top two winners on June 3 will face off again in the November election.

Eds note: A previous version of this story incorrectly said that Ali was a graduate of Stanford and Yale, when he actually studied there before earning his degree from CSU Dominguez Hills.

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Sarah Bennett is a contributor to the Hi-lo and the editor-at-large at the Long Beach Post. She is also a professor at Santa Ana College where she was once a student before transferring to USC to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Sarah has written about music, art, food and beer in local, national and international publications for over a decade. An L.A. native and longtime resident of Long Beach, she is the co-founder of Long Beach Zine Fest and managing editor at theLAnd magazine. She never sleeps.
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