The New California Politicians Are Changing the Way People Interact with Public Officials

Who will replace L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl — a seasoned Sacramento legislator or a millennial West Hollywood activist? The second choice would be an even lower barter: If she decides to leave government,…

The New California Politicians Are Changing the Way People Interact with Public Officials

Who will replace L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl — a seasoned Sacramento legislator or a millennial West Hollywood activist?

The second choice would be an even lower barter: If she decides to leave government, Kuehl would probably want to run for city or county supervisor instead, in a city that’s seen explosive growth in recent years.

Kuehl is a rare kind of politician: An elected official who came up through the labor movement, then won a seat on the City Council, then won election to a supervisorial seat. If she were to leave public office, she’d follow in the footsteps of three of California’s other pioneering women: Supervisor Ed Roybal, who was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors but left a career in public service to start his own law practice and then to take over as mayor of South Pasadena; Supervisor Virginia Coleman, who served four terms in the state Assembly, ending with a gubernatorial appointment to succeed a dead incumbent; and Supervisor Evelle Younger, who won a seat on the Los Angeles City Council and then became a judge after retirement.

“There’s a different relationship that can be established between elected officials and community residents in the kind of public agency that we have in California,” Kuehl said in a recent interview. “The way that people have come to interact with elected officials has evolved over the last few decades. I think that that relationship is important. That relationship is not about party affiliation. It’s not about ideology. It’s about the trust that you have with that person.”

The shift in how Kuehl has interacted with her constituents since she won her supervisorial race in 2006 has caused some ripples within her home district.

Kuehl, who has a reputation as someone who is a very hands-on legislator by nature, has emerged as a leader within the state Assembly’s majority Democratic caucus.

Leave a Comment