Signal Hill Vice Mayor Ed Wilson announced last week that he plans to run for California’s 70th State Assembly district next year.
Wilson, who narrowly won a fifth four-year term on the City Council just two months ago in the March 5 election, officially made the announcement May 1 on his Facebook page.
The statewide direct primary election will be June 3, 2014, and the period in which candidates may file a “declaration of candidacy” doesn’t start until early next year (Feb. 10 to March 7), according to the California Secretary of State website.
In 2003, Wilson, a Democrat and certified public accountant (CPA), withdrew from the Democrat primary race against then State Sen. Betty Karnette for the 54th Assembly district seat after not receiving the minimum amount of nominating signatures to file. Republican Assemblymember Steve Kuykendall also ran in the race and ended up winning the election.
In 2007, Wilson ran for the 37th Congressional District but was defeated by then Democrat Assemblymember Laura Richardson, who actually won the seat. In the election, which included a total of 17 candidates, Wilson received only 1 percent of the vote.
Asked why he decided to run this time, Wilson said in a phone interview with the Signal Tribune on Monday that with his daughter Ashley now attending college, he is more comfortable running for state office.
“I’ve considered it for a number of years, and, in fact, in the past looked at it, but, realistically, my daughter was really young at the time, and I didn’t really want to give up her childhood while being in Sacramento,” Wilson said.
He added that it’s important to start campaigning early on in statewide elections and that running for the Assembly seat won’t affect his ability to serve on the City Council.
“The election itself is over a year away, so I work to fulfill the responsibilities I’m elected in,” Wilson said. “Because it is an open seat and it is on the state level, people have to know that you’re interested in it well in advance. The process starts really, really, really early. It’s timing.”
Termed-out Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal, who was re-elected to the newly redrawn 70th State Assembly district last year, will vacate the seat in November 2014.
On his Facebook page, Wilson stated, “After much thought and deliberation, I have decided to run for the 70th Assembly District in California. This is a tremendous effort, and [I] appreciate any and all support! As I did not follow in my father’s and mother’s footsteps and join the military this is my way of giving back to make my community better. Thank you all!”
Wilson provided a link to his campaign website, edwilson4assembly.org, which the Signal Tribune has verified was registered on March 19, the day he was sworn in to the City Council and appointed vice mayor.
Wilson, who was first elected in 1997 as the first African-American to be elected to any position in Signal Hill, won the Council seat this year over incumbent Ellen Ward by a margin of 19 votes, according to final election results announced on March 8. At one point, unofficial results showed that the spread between the two candidates was only one vote. The election included seven candidates for three open seats on the City Council.
Wilson’s campaign website includes a bio and information about an upcoming campaign fundraiser “meet & greet” to be held May 23 at the Grand Havana Room, a “high-end” cigar club, in Beverly Hills. The requested campaign sponsorship costs to attend the exclusive event run $500, $1,000 (Silver), $2,500 (Gold) and $4,100 (Platinum).
On May 2, an “opportunity drawing” was posted on the website, promoting $100 tickets for a campaign-fundraising raffle in which entrants have a “1 in 1,000 chance of winning” $100 cash (seven runners-up), $500 cash (three runners-up) or the grand prize: a 2013 Mercedes Benz C300. Winners will be announced on Sept. 7.
Tara Stock, legislative coordinator for the California Fair Political Practices Commission, said in an email that the Political Reform Act does not restrict political-campaign raffles, although some are prohibited under Penal Code Section 319, interpreted and enforced by the local district attorney. In addition, receipts from the sale of raffle tickets are reported as contributions. Items donated for raffle prizes are reported as nonmonetary contributions.
Wilson’s website also includes a video of him speaking at a Signal Hill City Council candidate forum that he attended before the March election. Wilson told the Signal Tribune that his political platform will be based on his past public and private experience.
“I think people believe that I’m doing a good job for the City and on their behalf,” Wilson said. “I think I’m balanced. I listen to all sides of every issue to come up with the best alternative, the best decision to move forward, and I think that’s needed on the state level. I think we need an individual who has the finance, accounting, economic, business background, and, as a Democrat, that can help really balance the budget… If we just keep electing the same people that are doing the same things, we’re going to keep getting the same results.”
Wilson said he has filed a “statement of intention” to indicate he has opened a political-finance committee that allows him to start fundraising.
Tonia Reyes-Uranga, former 7th District Long Beach city councilmember, has also announced her intention to run for the 70th State Assembly District with a campaign website and has filed paperwork with the state to form a political finance committee.
Current 4th District Long Beach City Councilmember Patrick O’Donnell, who has also filed paperwork, has not made an official announcement whether he will run.
If O’Donnell is elected, the City of Long Beach would be required to hold a special election to fill his seat. Wilson, however, said the Signal Hill City Council has the option of appointing his replacement if he is elected.
The 70th Assembly District covers Catalina Island, San Pedro, Signal Hill, portions of Long Beach and the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.