Endorsement: Send Christy Smith, Sydney Kamlager and Robert Garcia to Washington

Endorsement: Send Christy Smith, Sydney Kamlager and Robert Garcia to Washington

The Times editorial board endorsed candidates in three local congressional district races before the June primary. Voters agreed with our recommendations, and the three candidates advanced to the Nov. 8 general election. In the intervening months, nothing has persuaded us to change our endorsement and, in fact, the case for each of them has only gotten stronger.

Here’s why we believe these three would represent Southern California, and its values, well in Congress.

27th Congressional District: Christy Smith

This race to represent the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys in Congress is one of the most competitive in the nation and will likely play a role in determining whether Democrats or Republicans control the House for the next two years. Every vote will be consequential.

We urge voters to choose Democrat Christy Smith, a longtime resident of Santa Clarita who has represented the area in the state Assembly and served on the Newhall School District board. She is a levelheaded centrist with years of relevant experience, having worked as a policy analyst for the U.S. Department of Education and served on a state environmental council. In Congress, she wants to strengthen voting rights, make college and trade schools more affordable and carry legislation to put a social worker in every school that serves low-income children.

Smith has a top rating from Planned Parenthood because of her strong record supporting abortion rights. Her belief that Americans deserve the freedom to decide when they’re ready to have children is an important reason for voters to support Smith. If elected, she’ll replace an incumbent who has a record of trying to restrict reproductive rights. Republican Rep. Mike Garcia co-sponsored legislation that would ban all abortions, and he voted against the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have enshrined in federal law the right to abortion that was lost when the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade.

Garcia even voted against a bill protecting the right to birth control, a position that is so retrograde it’s hard to comprehend. The bill was introduced after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said in an opinion concurring with the decision overturning abortion rights that the court should also reconsider the decision giving constitutional protection to accessing contraception.

Those are not the only inexcusable votes Garcia has cast. He showed he has no respect for the will of American voters by trying to throw out the votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania and voting against certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 election. He voted against impeaching former President Trump for inciting the violent mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

In just one term in Congress, Garcia has displayed an outrageous pattern of trying to yank away Americans’ freedoms — both to maintain autonomy over their bodies and to elect the president of their choice. Voters should oust Garcia and send Smith to Washington.

37th Congressional District: Sydney Kamlager

Because Rep. Karen Bass is leaving the U.S. House in the hopes of becoming the next mayor of Los Angeles, voters must pick a new member of Congress to represent the areas of Culver City, Leimert Park, Baldwin Hills and South Los Angeles.

Two Democrats are on the Nov. 8 ballot: state Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) and Jan Perry, a former Los Angeles City Council member. We believe Kamlager is the better choice. Her experience passing legislation, parsing the state budget and navigating Sacramento’s political labyrinth has prepared her for the rigors of Washington, D.C.

Kamlager championed criminal justice reform efforts, including a law to limit the use of gang enhancements. Other reforms she pushed for didn’t end up becoming law but demonstrate her values: She wrote a proposed constitutional amendment to end the use of cheap prison labor, which some view as a vestige of slavery (it didn’t pass the Legislature). And she carried legislation aimed at helping people safely reenter society after serving time in prison by increasing the amount of money they get upon release, which Gov. Gavin Newsom recently vetoed.

One of her important accomplishments in the Legislature was crafting a new regional plan to create more affordable housing in Los Angeles that Newsom did sign into law. Another one came after the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, when Kamlager successfully pushed legislation and funding to expand reproductive healthcare services in Los Angeles so clinics can accommodate the expected influx of people from other states seeking care.

In Congress, Kamlager hopes to expand voting rights, restore abortion rights and continue working on criminal justice reform. With solid policy skills and a sense of political finesse, she’s prepared to represent her district well.

42nd Congressional District: Robert Garcia

It’s a year of generational change for California’s delegation in Congress. Several House members are retiring, including longtime Democratic Reps. Alan Lowenthal and Lucille Roybal-Allard, whose Long Beach and southeast L.A. County districts were largely combined to form the new 42nd Congressional District. It includes Long Beach, Signal Hill, Lakewood, Avalon, Downey, Huntington Park, Bellflower, Bell Gardens, Bell, Maywood, Cudahy, Commerce and Vernon.

Voters have an excellent candidate in Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. A Democrat who blends hard-charging progressive values with an inspiring expression of optimism, Garcia wants his party to take back the mantle of patriotism by embracing it as a value rooted in helping people instead of one based on defending individualism.

Garcia has proved to be a trailblazer during the eight years since he became Long Beach’s youngest and first openly gay mayor. He’s worked with the Biden administration to provide shelter at the Long Beach Convention Center for children who had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border without their parents and helped establish a “guaranteed income” pilot program to give $500 a month to single mothers who earn less than $20,000 a year.

Garcia’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic was particularly impressive. After losing his mother and stepfather to the disease, he spearheaded an aggressive vaccination campaign that was lauded as a model for the state. Garcia says preparing the nation for future pandemics and emergencies will be one of his priorities in Congress.

Garcia embodies the American dream, having come to the U.S. at age 5 from Peru. He originally registered to vote as a Republican because his family adored President Reagan after gaining citizenship under his amnesty law. Over time, though, Garcia said he realized his values aligned more with Democrats and switched parties. His experience as an immigrant has shaped his desire to work in Congress on expanding pathways to citizenship for undocumented residents.

Garcia’s opponent, Republican John Briscoe, lost to Lowenthal by landslides in 2018 and 2020. He sits on the Ocean View School District board (which is in Orange County, outside the congressional district he’s running to represent) and supported right-wing talk radio host Larry Elder during last year’s gubernatorial recall election. He has made strange, offensive public comments about abortion.

Vote for Garcia. He is a thoughtful and accomplished leader who has earned voters’ support.

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