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Key Learnings from the Los Angeles County Second District Supervisorial Forum

Thursday, February 27, 2020

A candidate event is a powerful tool to engage our community around an upcoming election, to deep dive into the issues that matter most, and to learn more about candidates. On January 31, Southern California Grantmakers, in partnership with The Chronicle of Social Change and United Way of Greater Los Angeles, hosted a nonpartisan forum for candidates running for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ Second District.  

Four candidates participated in the forum— Koreatown lawyer Jake Jeong, former LA City Councilmember Jan Perry, State Senator Holly Mitchell, and LA City Councilmember Herb Wesson — and shared their visions for building a bolder and more equitable future for the district. Over 200 residents, activists, community organizations, and philanthropic leaders from the district attended the event to hear the candidates tackle issues such as housing & homelessness, child welfare, and youth justice reform. For an in-depth overview of each candidate’s positions on these issues, visit The Chronicle for Social Change’s recap of the forum. 

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors serves as the county’s executive and legislative governing body, guiding and directing county agencies, services, and departments for the region’s 10 million residents. The next Second District Supervisor will follow the current Supervisor, Mark Ridley-Thomas, and will serve approximately 2 million Angelenos spanning from South Los Angeles, Culver City, Inglewood, Carson, to Koreatown over the course of a four-year term.  

Here are five key takeaways from the event: 

  1. Ask the Candidates Thoughtful Questions: Before the forum, we brainstormed the issues we believed would be most important for the community before the election. We then sent each candidate a questionnaire where they shared their positions on these issues in addition to their other qualifications in order to develop a more tailored set of questions. 
  2. Reach Out to Community Partners: We partnered extensively with United Way of Greater Los Angeles and their organizing team to recruit nonprofit partners that had deep roots and extensive relationships in the Second District residents. Our partners helped us build awareness around the event and as well as secure investment from community residents. 
  3. Utilize Community Voices to Structure the Event: It was vital for us to ensure that we had a diverse pool of community voices to help structure the debate. Before the forum, we gathered questions from the public via an online submission process and then used the responses to shape the content and structure of the forum. We then asked our nonprofit community partners to go on stage and ask the candidates the community’s questions. 
  4. Create Eligibility Requirements for Candidates: From the initial planning stages, we were aware that in order to facilitate a fruitful conversation, we would not be able to host every running candidate at our forum. In order to narrow our candidate list, we extended an invitation only to candidates who had completed campaign forms and reported donations. Through this, we were able to focus more attention on the most pressing issues for the residents of the Second District. 
  5. Establish Clear Parameters for a Robust Conversation: By maintaining constant communication and establishing clear expectations for the candidates, we were able to host an event focused on issues and communities and avoided tangents and partisan debates. 


SCG is proud to have co-hosted this forum that provided an opportunity for residents and community leaders in the Second District to engage in the democratic process and learn more about the candidates. In 2020, SCG will continue to support efforts to promote voter education and civic engagement in local, state-wide, and national elections. 

On March 3, 2020, California voters will vote for the candidate who they believe will serve their communities best. The top two candidates will advance to the general election in November. 

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