Mark Ridley-Thomas

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Mark Ridley-Thomas
Mark Ridley-Thomas 2008.jpg
Member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
from the 2nd District
Assumed office
December 1, 2008
Preceded byYvonne Brathwaite Burke
Member of the California State Senate
from the 26th district
In office
December 4, 2006 – November 30, 2008
Preceded byKevin Murray
Succeeded byCurren D. Price Jr.
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 48th district
In office
December 2, 2002 – November 30, 2006
Preceded byRoderick Wright
Succeeded byMike Davis
Personal details
Mark Thomas

(1954-11-06) November 6, 1954 (age 65)
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Avis Ridley-Thomas
ChildrenSebastian and Sinclair Ridley-Thomas
Alma materImmaculate Heart College
University of Southern California

Mark Ridley-Thomas (born November 6, 1954) is a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for the 2nd District. He served as a California State Senator, representing the 26th district from 2006 to 2008 and was a California State Assemblyman representing the 48th district from 2002 until 2006. He was Chairman of the Assembly Democratic Caucus. Before his six years in the Legislature, he was on the Los Angeles City Council from 1991 to 2002.

Personal life and education[edit]

Ridley-Thomas is a graduate of Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles and earned a baccalaureate degree in Social Relations and a master's degree in Religious Studies from Immaculate Heart College. Ridley-Thomas went on to earn a Ph.D. in Social Ethics and Policy Analysis from the University of Southern California (1989).[1]

After a brief stint as a high-school teacher, Ridley-Thomas served for a decade as executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles (1981–1991). During that period he also hosted a public affairs program on Pacifica Radio station KPFK-FM in Los Angeles.


Ridley-Thomas is married to Avis Ridley-Thomas, who was the administrator of the Dispute Resolution Center in the office of the Los Angeles City Attorney who retired in 2011. They have twin sons, Sebastian and Sinclair, who are both graduates of Morehouse College.

Political career[edit]

City Council[edit]

Ridley-Thomas was elected to the Los Angeles City Council in 1991, representing the city's 8th Council District. During his tenure on the council, he created the Eighth District Empowerment Congress. He founded the African American Voter Registration, Education, and Participation (AAVREP) in 2002, the largest organized effort to register African American and urban voters in the state of California in more than a decade.[2] He was also the president pro tem of the council.[3]

Thomas is currently running to return to Los Angeles City Council in Council District 10 in the March 3, 2020 election.[4]

State Assembly[edit]

Ridley-Thomas would have been forced to leave the council in 2003 because of city term limits that prevented him from running for reelection, so he chose instead to run for a seat in the California State Assembly representing California's 48th district.[5] In his 2002 election, he defeated his Republican opponent, Gerard T. Robinson, with more than 80% of the vote.[6] In the Assembly, Ridley-Thomas served as chair of the Democratic caucus and was a major proponent of efforts to encourage an NFL team to move to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which is located in his district.[7] He also sponsored a law that aided redevelopment in Exposition Park as part of a failed effort to attract a team. In the Assembly, Ridley-Thomas, as chairman of the Select Committee on the Los Angeles County Health Care Crisis, was a leader in addressing the problems facing the hospitals and health care system of Los Angeles, sponsoring a bill that would create the Office of Inspector General in an effort to detect and prevent fraud, waste and abuse in government agencies.[8]

State Senate[edit]

In 2006, Ridley-Thomas announced that he was running for the California State Senate, vying for the 26th Senate district seat being vacated by term-limited Senator Kevin Murray. He defeated his opponent in the Democratic primary, Marvin C. McCoy, with more than 87% of the vote[9] and faced no Republican opposition in the general election. In the Senate, Ridley-Thomas joined with a group of lawmakers who introduced a package of legislation designed to crack down on gang violence by allowing city and county prosecutors to employ tougher sentencing measures and increase asset forfeitures against gang members, authoring a bill which would make it easier for law enforcement officials to deal with racially motivated gang activity.[10] He was also one of the lawmakers who called for tourists to boycott the LAX Hilton because of its efforts to overturn a city ordinance that would grant a living wage to airport-area hotel workers.[11] Ridley-Thomas chaired the Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development and its two subcommittees on Professional Sports and Entertainment, and The Economy, Workforce Preparation and Development. He also served on the Senate Appropriations; Energy, Utilities and Communications; Health; and Public Safety committees.

2008 County Supervisor[edit]

On October 25, 2007, Ridley-Thomas announced that he would be running for the Second District seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors being vacated by Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke. His most formidable opponent was former LAPD police chief Bernard C. Parks, the member of the Los Angeles City Council who replaced Ridley-Thomas when he was elected to the State Assembly.[12] Ridley-Thomas was endorsed by the Los Angeles County Democratic Party,[13] the area's labor unions (including the law enforcement unions), and numerous elected officials[14]. Ridley-Thomas edged out Parks in the June 3 primary by a margin of 45% to 40%, but since neither candidate received a majority of the vote, the top two candidates advanced to a runoff election in November. Ridley-Thomas won a 62% to 38% victory over Parks. Ridley-Thomas became the first black man ever elected to the Los Angeles County Board.[15]

2012 County Supervisor[edit]

In 2012 Ridley-Thomas ran for his second term as Supervisor. Unopposed, he won the primary in June with 100% of the vote.[16]

2016 County Supervisor[edit]

Term limits limit the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to three terms each. In March 2015, Ridley-Thomas filed to run for his third and last term.[17]

In 2018, Ridley-Thomas supported the appointment of Nicole Tinkham as interim public defender, despite a letter signed by 390 public defenders who were concerned that Tinkham lacked criminal law experience and the potential for a conflict of interest, given Tinkham's prior representation of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.[18]



1992 Riots[edit]

In the aftermath of the 1992 L.A. riots, Ridley-Thomas sought to prevent convenience stores in South Central from serving alcohol. Many of these stores were Korean owned. He said at the time "We are going to use every means at our disposal to rid our community of these god-awful places of business, the kind of business they do is not good for the community.". Korean owners took issue with his stance, claiming this was a case of the city punishing the victims.[19]

Misuse of funds[edit]

Donation to USC[edit]

In Spring 2018, Ridley-Thomas' political campaign fund — Mark Ridley-Thomas Committee for a Better L.A. — gave $100,000 to the USC School of Social Work, according to reporting by the LA Times. "After USC received the money, the school’s dean, Marilyn Flynn, reached out to Peter Manzo, the chief executive of United Ways of California. She told him USC was sending a $100,000 donation to be put in the account of PRPI, the think tank run by [his son and recently resigned Assemblymember] Sebastian Ridley-Thomas." The Times reported that a "concerned employee went to the university’s compliance office in June [2018] and reported “alleged inappropriate financial transactions and agreements” involving [USC Dean of Social Work Marilyn] Flynn and an elected official." After consulting legal counsel, USC administrators subsequently referred the $100,000 donation by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to federal authorities for a criminal investigation.[20]

Car Wash Controversy[edit]

During the 2015 California drought, Ridley-Thomas ordered one of his two county-provided black luxury cars (Chrysler 300 limited) to be washed 2 times a week. After Governor Jerry Brown's April mandate ordered a 25% reduction in urban water use, Ridley-Thomas increased the frequency of his sedan washing to over 3 times a week, while maintaining a wash schedule of 2.9 times per week for the second Chrysler sedan he maintains, more than any other county supervisor.[21]

$25k "Who's Who" listing[edit]

In 2010 Ridley-Thomas spent $25,000 of taxpayers' money to place himself in the Who's Who edition of black Los Angeles.[22]

$707k Office Remodel[edit]

In 2009 Ridley-Thomas was criticized, most notably by radio talk show hosts John and Ken, for his proposal and personal defense of plans to remodel his office through the spending of $707,000 in discretionary funds. Amidst the state budget crisis in California, John and Ken criticized MRT on December 21, 2009, saying that the discretionary funds, "[are] our money and we say no."[23][24] As of March 12, 2010 the Los Angeles Times reported that Ridley-Thomas' renovation plans for his eighth-floor office were on hold.[25]


  1. ^ Official Biography "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-11-11. Retrieved 2008-09-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ AAVREP website,
  3. ^ Stockstill, Mason. "Council Says Goodbye, Good Luck to Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas." City News Service. November 26, 2002.
  4. ^ Ridley-Thomas, Mark (2019-12-21). "Thank you to the Petersen family for hosting today's meet-and-greet in the West Admas community. Loved talking directly to residents. #MRTforCD10". @MRTempower. Retrieved 2019-12-21.
  5. ^ Garza, Mariel. "MEMBER SAYS ADIEU TO COUNCIL." The Daily News of Los Angeles. November 27, 2002.
  6. ^ "Assembly Races." City News Service. November 6, 2002.
  7. ^ Witz, Billy. "BILL COULD HELP COLISEUM'S BID." The Daily News of Los Angeles. September 30, 2004.
  8. ^ "Health Audits." City News Service. May 5, 2005.
  9. ^ City News Service. June 7, 2006.
  10. ^ City News Service. March 15, 2007.
  11. ^ Marroquin, Art. "Lawmakers Call for Tourists to Boycott LAX Hilton in Dispute Over Living Wage." City News Service. April 13, 2007.
  12. ^ :"Ridley-Thomas Announces Run For County Supervisor Seat." City News Service. October 25, 2007.
  13. ^ Renaud, Jean-Paul. "California in Brief | LOS ANGELES; Party endorses Ridley-Thomas." Los Angeles Times. April 10, 2008.
  14. ^ Endorsements. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-01-06. Retrieved 2008-07-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ Perkins, Robert. "Ridley-Thomas, Parks Heading for Runoff in 2nd District Supervisor Race." City News Service. June 4, 2008.
  16. ^ LA County Board of Supervisors Election Results
  17. ^ Merl, Jean. "Veteran L.A. politicians take formal step toward 2016 supervisor race" Los Angeles Times. March 10, 2015.
  18. ^ "Hundreds of deputy public defenders protest choice of new interim leader". Retrieved 2018-02-10.
  19. ^ "4 Liquor Stores Destroyed in Riots Get OK to Rebuild". latimes.
  20. ^ Ryan, Matt Hamilton, Harriet. "Donation from prominent L.A. politician roils USC, which referred case to federal prosecutors". Retrieved 2019-01-08.
  21. ^ "What drought? Some L.A. County supervisors have their cars washed 2, 3 times a week".
  22. ^ "Who's Who with whose funds?". latimes.
  23. ^ "Mark Ridley Thomas Office Renovation On The Agenda"
  24. ^ "Ridley-Thomas defends $707K office renovations". ABC7 Los Angeles.
  25. ^ "L.A. County supervisors spend millions on pet projects". latimes.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Robert C. Farrell
Los Angeles City Council
8th District
Succeeded by
Bernard Parks
Preceded by
Yvonne Brathwaite Burke
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
2nd District

December 1, 2008–present
California Senate
Preceded by
Kevin Murray
California State Senate
26th district
December 4, 2006–November 30, 2008
Succeeded by
Curren D. Price Jr.
California Assembly
Preceded by
Rod Wright
California State Assembly
48th District
December 2, 2002–November 30, 2006
Succeeded by
Mike Davis