By Tim Posada, 8/10/2011
LGBT Rights Advocate Endorsed by L.A. Mayor
The newly proposed 50th Assembly District, which includes West Hollywood, Hancock Park and parts of the mid-Wilshire area, might be a newly coveted political locale, but assembly-hopeful Torie Osborn, a longtime LGBT advocate and non-profit executive, began her campaign last year without knowing exactly what the new borders would be.
“I’ve been campaigning long before the new district lines were drawn, and then the redistricting gods were very nice to me and gave me a district I know very well,” Osborn said. “It turns out that this new district knits together Santa Monica where I live, with Hollywood and West Hollywood, where I have a long history.”
Following the 2010 Census, new districts were formed after months of collaboration between citizen groups and redistricting officials.
Since announcing her candidacy late last year, Osborn leads in donations, with almost 1,000 donors, bringing in nearly $300,000, of which $215,000 was brought in this year alone. On Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced his support of Osborn.
“As a local leader who has worked on some of the most pressing issues of our time, from protecting our environment, to creating jobs, expanding access to better healthcare, helping the homeless and fighting for equality, Torie Osborn has proven herself to be a champion for those who need a voice,” Villaraigosa said. “She has demonstrated a clear understanding of the issues that face her district and I know that she will be a strong representative for the residents of California’s Fiftieth Assembly District.”
Osborn has known Villaraigosa since the 1980s, and in 2006, she became an official part of his cabinet as senior policy advisor on homelessness, poverty and economic development.
“He’s been a mentor and somebody I respect,” Osborn said. “While working in his senior cabinet, I saw what you could do with a strong elected leader and those on the inside. I saw what was possible from a new light in city hall.”
Villaraigosa joins several others endorsing Osborn, including California State Assemblymember Julia Brownley, former State Senator Sheila Kuehl, Congressmember Karen Bass, and Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, 13th District. Under current lines, Brownley had blessed Osborn as her replacement of the 41st District since she was not eligible to rerun due to term limits.
The position sparked a renewed interest in politics, and Osborn knew she wanted to take her advocacy experience to Sacramento.
It’s also speculated that Assemblymember Betsy Butler, who currently resides in the 53rd Assembly District in Marina del Rey, will be running in the 50th District, which caused West Hollywood City Councilmember Jeffrey Prang and former Mid-City West Community Council Chair, Andrew Lachman, to suspend their bids for the seat. Butler has not officially announced her plans, and she was unavailable for comment.
Regardless of Butler’s decision, Osborn welcomes the competition.
“I’m very positive about my campaign,” Osborn said. “I’m confident that the district will elect someone who lives and works here. It’s a high voting and deeply engaged district that’s passionate for the environment and gay and lesbian issues, which I’ve deeply been a part of. I believe the people will choose someone with my values, ready to make change in Sacramento. The issues I care about are the issues of the district because I know the district.”
While Osborn speaks very highly about her knowledge of the district and its residents, she also continues to see new sides of the area, continually uncovering hidden community pockets. Still, Osborn is confident in her campaign and the support of her 921 donors.
“This district couldn’t be more perfect and I am having a blast getting to know it,” Osborn said. “When something’s meant to be, it just flows. I am loving learning from people and learning about parts of the district I didn’t know.”
Alisa Sommer, a member of the Young Professionals Council, a junior board of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, said she wanted to meet Osborn because of her high profile role as a lesbian leader, and now Sommers knows Osborn is the only candidate for her.
“I was so excited that West Hollywood would be a part of the new district,” said Sommer, who is also a law and business student at the University of California, Los Angeles. “It’s my understanding that this district was rezoned to be a liberal district, but it’s also an LGBT-centric area. That’s why I live here and that’s why Torie is great here. She’s involved in what we do and this community knows and trusts her.”
The California Redistricting Commission has until Aug. 14 to make changes, but a map released in late July places the 50th District in major parts of the current 41st and 42nd Districts, including Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Agoura Hills, Topanga, Brentwood, Bel Air and Beverly Hills, along with West Hollywood and the Mid-Wilshire area, from Carthay Square to Hancock Park.
Osborn’s political career began in 2006, but she has a long history in advocacy at the Liberty Hill Foundation and the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, which would both be in the 50th District. She also worked for United Way of Greater Los Angeles and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force in Washington, D.C. She is currently a senior strategist with California Calls, an independent network of organizations dedicated to tax and budget reform.
“We’re in such difficult times in this state and one thing I can bring to this job is a message of positive change,” Osborn added. “I’m a natural coalition builder and a knitter of community. It’s going to be a fun year.”
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