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Endorsement: Hilda Solis remains the best choice for the Board of Supervisors

Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis speaks in support of a 2017 sales tax measure to provide services for homeless people.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Hilda Solis virtually remade the Board of Supervisors, along with Sheila Kuehl, when both were elected in 2014. Twenty years had passed since Los Angeles County’s close brush with bankruptcy, and the previous board kept the prospect of insolvency in the forefront of its policymaking, in much the way Depression-era parents often grew up to become penny-pinching grandparents. While fiscally prudent, that approach allowed the problems of the county’s most needy and marginalized people to mount.

That thinking changed in 2014 when Solis became part of the most politically progressive board ever, and she amplified and addressed demands of residents who bore the brunt of toxic pollutants, abusive jailers, unfair prosecution and exploding homelessness. She also brought an understanding of the needs of small businesses and their role in holding the county’s economy together.

She rode easily to victory in her first term, with backing from the Democratic political establishment based on her tenure as secretary of Labor in President Obama‘s Cabinet and, before that, in the state Legislature. Reelection was even easier; no one filed to run against her in 2018.

This year, as she seeks her third and final term, Solis faces four challengers who are angry with the county’s direction, mostly because of a crime increase that began after lockdowns were lifted early in the pandemic and homelessness that seems more out of control than ever. Some of them also target Solis because of her strong support for the county’s mask and vaccine mandates.

Here are the L.A. Times’ editorial board endorsements for elected offices in Los Angeles city and county, LAUSD, superior court, statewide offices, the state legislature and U.S. House and Senate seats.

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Their frustrations, even those that are understandable, are off-base. Solis has served the county and its people well in the years leading up to and including the pandemic. Voters in the 1st Supervisorial District, which runs from downtown and northeast Los Angeles to Pomona, should give her one more term to complete her ambitious agenda for a county overhaul based on equity and service delivery.

That agenda is centered on the “care-first” strategy that is meant to stop the endless cycle of crime and dysfunction that leads to prosecution, jail, homelessness, mental breakdown or addiction and back to crime and dysfunction. Solis has by no means been alone in driving the discussion, but she led on important aspects, including closing the decrepit and dangerous Men’s Central Jail.

The jail is still not closed, nor have most of the other promising portions of the agenda been completed, including transformation of juvenile probation to a program that more effectively sets youthful offenders (most of whom suffer from some form of mental illness) on a responsible path. It’s fine to say that these things take time, because they do — but time is almost up for Solis. Her constituents should expect substantial progress on the care-first agenda in the next four years.

The alternative — returning to the failed strategies of homeless sweeps and stepped-up policing and prison — would be a disastrous setback for the county’s more than 10 million people. The problems that residents see today are in part a result of an unprecedented deadly disease and in part the outgrowth of several generations of policies that gave us the cycle of failure that Solis is trying to correct. This is no time to backtrack. Solis is the candidate most likely to move the county forward.

Read more endorsements at: latimes.com/endorsements.


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