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Mark Ridley-Thomas

Member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
from District 2
Assumed office 
December 1, 2008
Preceded by Yvonne Brathwaite Burke

Member of the California State Senate
from the 26th district
In office
December 4, 2006 – November 30, 2008
Preceded by Kevin Murray
Succeeded by Curren D. Price, Jr.

Member of the California State Assembly
from the 48th district
In office
December 2, 2002 – November 30, 2006
Preceded by Roderick Wright
Succeeded by Mike Davis

Born November 6, 1954 (1954-11-06) (age 55)
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Avis Ridley-Thomas
Children Sebastian and Sinclair Ridley-Thomas
Alma mater Immaculate Heart College, University of Southern California

Mark Ridley-Thomas (born November 6, 1954), often referred to by his initials, MRT, is a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for District 2, who succeeded Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke. He previously 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 served on the Los Angeles City Council from 1991 to 2002.


Personal life and education

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, MRT 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 is the administrator of the Dispute Resolution Center in the office of the Los Angeles City Attorney. They have twin sons, Sebastian and Sinclair, who are both graduates of Morehouse College.

Political career

City Council

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 empaneled the Eighth District Empowerment Congress, a forerunner of the modern Neighborhood Council. He was also the president pro tem of the council, serving as the acting Mayor of Los Angeles on several occasions, including when Mayor Jim Hahn traveled to Asia on a trade mission[2].

State Assembly

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[3]. In his 2002 election, he defeated his Republican opponent, Gerard T. Robinson, with more than 80% of the vote[4]. 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[5]. 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[6].

State Senate

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[7] 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[8]. 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[9]. 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 Campaign

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[10]. Ridley-Thomas was endorsed by the Los Angeles County Democratic Party[11], the area's labor unions (including the law enforcement unions), numerous elected officials[12], and the national political action committee Progressive Majority. 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 had a much larger margin of victory one-on-one against Parks, scoring a 62% to 38% victory. Ridley-Thomas became the first black man ever elected to the Los Angeles County Board[13].


Decreasing Gang Violence

Ridley-Thomas started the "Days of Dialogue" program to bring key members of the community, including law enforcement officials, teachers, religious leaders, and businessmen and -women together to resolve divisive issues and prevent them from becoming catalysts of neighborhood violence or unrest. He is a strong advocate of more effective law enforcement and has sponsored legislation to increase the power of local officials in attempting to prosecute gang members[14].


Ridley-Thomas is a strong backer of community health care programs, and has advocated for reform and streamlining of Los Angeles County's public health care system and expansion of benefits to more children and low-income families.[citation needed]


Ridley-Thomas has been 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."[15] [16] As of March 12, 2010 the Los Angeles Times reported that Ridley-Thomas' renovation plans for his eigth-floor office are on hold.[17]


  1. ^ Official Biography
  2. ^ Stockstill, Mason. "Council Says Goodbye, Good Luck to Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas." City News Service. November 26, 2002.
  3. ^ Garza, Mariel. "MEMBER SAYS ADIEU TO COUNCIL." The Daily News of Los Angeles. November 27, 2002.
  4. ^ "Assembly Races." City News Service. November 6, 2002.
  5. ^ Witz, Billy. "BILL COULD HELP COLISEUM'S BID." The Daily News of Los Angeles. September 30, 2004.
  6. ^ "Health Audits." City News Service. May 5, 2005.
  7. ^ City News Service. June 7, 2006.
  8. ^ City News Service. March 15, 2007.
  9. ^ Marroquin, Art. "Lawmakers Call for Tourists to Boycott LAX Hilton in Dispute Over Living Wage." City News Service. April 13, 2007.
  10. ^ :"Ridley-Thomas Announces Run For County Supervisor Seat." City News Service. October 25, 2007.
  11. ^ Renaud, Jean-Paul. "California in Brief | LOS ANGELES; Party endorses Ridley-Thomas." Los Angeles Times. April 10, 2008.
  12. ^ Endorsements.
  13. ^ Perkins, Robert. "Ridley-Thomas, Parks Heading for Runoff in 2nd District Supervisor Race." City News Service. June 4, 2008.
  14. ^ Key Issues.
  15. ^ Mark Ridley Thomas Office Renovation On The Agenda
  16. ^ Ridley-Thomas defends $707K office renovations
  17. ^ L.A. County supervisors spend millions on pet projects,0,3010109.story?page=2

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Robert C. Farrell
Los Angeles City Councilman
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 Senator
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


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