Kevin James Would Make History as LA’s First Openly Gay City Attorney, LGBTQ+ Organization Backs Out Councilmembers’ Re-Election Bids
LOS ANGELES — Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, announced endorsements of two openly gay candidates for citywide office in Los Angeles on Monday and officially backed the city’s two openly gay councilmembers in their 2022 re-election bids. If elected this fall, Kevin James would make history as Los Angeles’s first openly gay city attorney, and Rob Wilcox would continue to provide out LGBTQ+ representation in the controller’s office.
“For all the progress that LGBTQ+ people have made in the last two decades — especially here in Los Angeles — we cannot ignore the reality that our community remains underrepresented in elected office,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. “Our city faces big challenges — an ongoing pandemic, a homelessness and housing affordability crisis, a rise in hate crimes and an economy that only works for some of us. We are confident that these four openly LGBTQ+ champions will provide critical leadership and representation as Angelenos work together to overcome these challenges.”
City Attorney candidate Kevin James has a long history of public service benefitting the LGBTQ+ community and people living with HIV and AIDS. James served as board co-chair and vice chair of AIDS Project Los Angeles throughout much of the 1990s, during some of the most critical years of the AIDS epidemic, and later as president of the City of Los Angeles’s Board of Public Works. As president, he led the effort to add LGBTQ+ owned businesses to the certification list of minority-owned businesses in order to better compete for city contracts, making the city the largest municipality to formally include LGBTQ-owned businesses in the city’s billions of dollars in contract procurement.
James has made humanely addressing the city’s homelessness crisis — which disproportionately impacts the LGBTQ+ community, especially LGBTQ+ youth in Los Angeles — a top priority of his campaign. He has also pledged to create a Hate Crimes Response Team within the office to combat the rise in anti-LGBTQ+, racist and anti-semitic hate crimes in the city.
“I am honored and humbled to be endorsed by Equality California, the state’s only LGBTQ+ civil rights organization working directly at the local level,” said James. “The City Attorney’s job is not only to represent the City government in court. The City Attorney can also protect Angelenos — especially our most vulnerable communities. I look forward to working side-by-side with Equality California in solving the significant challenges facing our City today.”
City Controller candidate Rob Wilcox has spent nearly two decades at the forefront of fighting for government accountability and transparency. He previously served as Los Angeles Deputy Controller and as California’s Chief Deputy Inspector General for the Obama-era Recovery Act spending. Wilcox has spent the last eight years as a member of City Attorney Mike Feuer’s executive team, where he currently serves as Director of Community Engagement and Outreach. Wilcox was also a member of the first Board of Directors of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s LGBT Employees Association.
“I am honored to have earned the support of Equality California in my campaign for Los Angeles City Controller,” said Wilcox. “Equality California does truly amazing work and I will embody those same values as the City’s inspector general, truth-teller and taxpayers’ watchdog, ensuring that the City works equally for everyone and will tackle the tough problems we face.”
Councilmember Mike Bonin (District 11) represents the city’s Westside as one of two openly LGBTQ+ members of the Los Angeles City Council. Bonin has focused much of his time in office on helping people experiencing homelessness, understanding that LGBTQ+ youth in particular are overrepresented among the homeless population and advocating since 2015 for quick, nimble solutions to homelessness, such as shared housing and master leasing — which the City is now finally beginning to explore.Bonin has worked to ensure culturally competent care is offered to the city’s unhoused population to help get people into homes and back on their feet. Bonin previously served as the co-founder and program director of Camp Courage, an acclaimed training program for community organizers fighting for the freedom to marry for the LGBTQ+ community.
“Equality California has been a steadfast and formidable leader in the fight for marriage equality and many others,” said Bonin. “As a gay man, a progressive and an elected official who has done my best to stand up for the civil rights of marginalized people everywhere, I am truly honored to receive their endorsement.”
Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell (District 13) represents the heart of the city’s LGBTQ+ community in Hollywood and Silver Lake and is one of two openly LGBTQ+ members of the Council. For years, O’Farrell has led on issues affecting LGBTQ+ people, including restoring funding for an AIDS coordinator position in the city’s department of disabilities; empowering the city’s Transgender Advisory Council and advocating for the creation of California’s Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund. During the pandemic, he spearheaded a renters’ subsidy program to help prevent those struggling financially from becoming unhoused.
“I am honored for the support of my friends at Equality California in my campaign for re-election,” said O’Farrell. “As one of the City Council’s two openly LGBTQ+ members, I proudly represent not only my district, but the thousands of LGBTQ+ people residing in Los Angeles who deserve a voice in our City’s leadership. I am grateful to have Equality California by my side as we continue our critical work to protect and advance the rights of LGBTQ+ people and reduce disparities that still exist for too many in our community.”
For a complete list of Equality California’s 2022 endorsements, visit eqca.org/elections.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ+ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ+ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org