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State Assembly candidates to square off at Tuesday night debate

Wendy Carrillo and Luis Lopez

HIGHLAND PARK — 51st Assembly District candidates Wendy Carrillo and Luis Lopez are scheduled to debate each other on Tuesday, Oct. 24 only about three weeks after they emerged as the top vote getters in the primary election.

Carrillo, a community activist, and Lopez, a healthcare director, were among 13 candidates in the primary race that, as the L.A. Times noted, had been a  “low-wattage and relatively low-dollar race” in which of the mostly Democratic, liberal candidates have not been able to break out of the pack. Carrillo garnered about 22.16% of the vote while Lopez captured 18.59%.

The frontrunners now have six weeks before the Dec. 5 runoff to set themselves apart.

District 51 Candidates Debate

This year’s election was called after former Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for California’s 34th District. Gomez was the winner of a special election to replace Xavier Becerra, who left Congress to become Attorney General of California.

Community activist Wendy Carrillo and healthcare director Luis Lopez are scheduled to debate on Tuesday in today’s 51st State Assembly District primary,

Since no candidate won 50% of the vote, the two frontrunners are now headed for a Dec. 5 runoff election.

The 51st Assembly District covers most of the Eastside, stretching from Echo Park and Silver Lake on the west, Eagle Rock and Highland Park on the north and El Sereno and unincorporated East Los Angeles on the east.

Here are more details about each candidate:

Wendy Carrillo is one of the candidates for the California 51st Assembly District

Wendy Carrillo

Wendy Carrillo

Wendy Carrillo first came to the United States as an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador when she was a child, according to the biography on her campaign web site. She grew up in in Boyle Heights and City Terrace, becoming a labor leader with SEIU Local 2015, leading communications and organizing efforts for long-term care workers. She has also worked as a radio and digital journalist and producer. She is currently on the advisory board of Vision to Learn, a non-profit that provides student with free glasses.

Carrillo ran in the primary last April to replace Rep. Xavier Becerra in Congress. She received about 5 percent of the vote, coming in sixth out of 20 candidates.

Luis Lopez is one of the 51st Assembly District candidates

Luis Lopez

Luis Lopez

Probably the earliest starter in this race, Lopez declared his candidacy for the Assembly months ago, before Gomez even won the runoff for Congress. Lopez made his announcement just one day after the primary in April narrowed down the Congressional race to Gomez and Robert Lee Ahn.

Indeed, Lopez has already come close to the job, having lost to Gomez in a runoff in 2012.

Lopez is a former president of the East Area Planning Commission and a former chair of the City Regional Prop K Commission. He built and ran the Latino Coalition Against AIDS, and is a founding board member of Honor PAC, a statewide Latina/o LGBT political action committee.

He has also managed large‐scale data projects for KPMG Consulting Inc. (now Bearing Point, Inc.), and was a Social Science Analyst at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C.

51st State Assembly District | State of California

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