By: Al Ballesteros
Photos provided by Ari Ruiz.com
Ari Ruiz is a candidate running to represent the 52ND District in the State Assembly. He is a current resident and renter in the El Sereno neighborhood and holds a position on the staff of Congressmember Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles). Ruiz has worked for numerous elected officials, has held several appointed positions to councils and commissions and led efforts in local non-profits helping at-risk youth and families.
The California primary election will be held next month on March 5, 2024. Ari Ruiz is running in a district which offers a very good opportunity for an open LGBTQ candidate to represent us in Sacramento. The newly drawn 52ND Assembly District is favorable for an LGBTQ candidate because it includes East Hollywood, Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Echo Park, Hermon, Glassell Park, Cypress Park, Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Elysian Valley, Montecito Heights, Lincoln Heights, El Sereno, Atwater Village, Monterey Hills, Mt. Washington, Arroyo Seco, unincorporated East Los Angeles and the southern portion of the City of Glendale. Large numbers of our LGBTQ communities live in these areas, as well as a large Latino base of voters, and high numbers of progressives.
Ruiz has worked in leadership positions for many years and among these was as the first Latino president of the Stonewall Young Democrats, a club for LGBTQ members of the party under the age of 36. He has worked for some of the most influential federal, state, and local leaders, including Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio. In the non-profit sector, Ruiz worked for the El Sereno based non-profit, Barrio Action that focuses on helping at-risk youth, children and their families, and for The Laurel Foundation that provides services for families affected by HIV/AIDS.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appointed him to the Los Angeles City Commission for Children Youth & Their Families in 2009. In 2016, Ruiz joined the office of Assemblywoman Burke as a Field Deputy and worked his way up to serve as Deputy District Director. Also in 2016, Supervisor Hilda Solis appointed him to serve on the Los Angeles County Commission on Insurance where he advised the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on strategies to reduce insurance costs.
Ari Ruiz was born in Mexico City and came to Los Angeles at the age of 10. After losing his father to cancer, his mother and siblings immigrated to the United States for a chance at a better life. His mother cleaned homes to make ends meet and is currently a home care worker. In the Fall of 2019, and after waiting 20 years, Ari Ruiz’ dream of becoming a United States Citizen became a reality. Also, this Citizenship status paved the way for him to run for this seat which was something he could only do with this status.
Should Ruiz win his bid for the Assembly seat, he would make history as the first gay and former undocumented immigrant. And that would be quite an achievement. “Never in my life, as someone who was undocumented, would I even have thought about the possibility of being on the ballot and asking people to vote for me,” says Ruiz. “People like me are not supposed to run for office…” “Now more than ever, we need to elect a new generation of leaders with real life experience, because if our elected leaders can’t see us, then our elected leaders can’t serve us.”
Adelante Magazine: What are some of your positions on the issues which affect our community and those in the district?
“I will champion an economy that works for everyone by tackling the challenges of the cost of living. I will support living wage jobs, renters, access to high-skill union positions with the Building Trades, and invest in initiatives that promote homeownership.”
“To address homelessness through supporting new ideas, because what Sacramento is doing right now isn’t cutting it. I support California’s innovative Care Courts initiative to assist in relocating unhoused individuals with severe mental health and drug addiction challenges from our streets to the necessary treatment facilities. This is an urgent issue that needed to be fixed, well, yesterday.”
“To protect a woman’s right to choose and safeguard reproductive rights for women throughout the United States. As a staffer, I worked alongside Asm. Rubio and Asm. Burke to pass the state’s 2019 historic $100 million investment in Reproductive Health Services and for Planned Parenthood.”
“Support small businesses by providing them with access to capital through our state’s lending programs and responsibly reduce the red tape that stifles growing businesses and job creation.”
“Invest in education so that our children have access to the best schools in the world. I am the only candidate endorsed by the California Teachers Association because they know that in the Assembly, I will be focused on reducing classroom size, raise wages for teachers, expand childcare programs and help eradicate child poverty.”
“Keep our neighborhoods safe by protecting our communities from gun violence by supporting background checks, and enacting policies that prevent violent crime and smash-and-grabs.”
“Champion environmental justice by committing to preserving our natural resources for generations to come. In my district, I will be focused on continuing the efforts to clean up all residential communities, including East Los Angeles, that were affected by Exide’s negligence, expand upon my former boss’ bill AB 2722, and hold big polluters accountable.”
“I want to make sure the LGBTQ community has equal access to bidding for state and county contracts and has equal access to grants to support their local businesses.”
Adelante: When we look at Florida where our community is under attack by the Governor and countless anti-LGBTQ laws are being passed and other protections being taken away, how can we make sure this does not happen in California?
Ruiz: Representation in government matters. You don’t have to go very far because these types of things are happening here. Just last year, when the Glendale Unified School District proclaimed June as LGBTQ awareness month, that brought out the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers to protest against our community. My job will be to have conversations with residents in the district and point out that the public schools should be places where our children and young people get a quality education while at the same time feel safe being who they are. I believe most parents would agree they want to see their children treated with respect and dignity regardless of who they are or where they come from and that is what we want for the LGBTQ community as well.
Adelante: How is it going out there as a candidate? What type of reception are you receiving?
Ruiz: We are doing good out there. The reception of the community has been very positive. We have a lot of momentum with the California Teachers Association endorsement and that of Jackie Goldberg and Honor Pac. I have established relationships with very diverse groups of people and communities. I have Republicans supporting me, including our County Supervisor Kathryn Bargar as well as democrats and progressives. “I am a hard worker. I tell people if my competition knocks on three doors, I am knocking on six.”
The district has a sizable population of both LGBTQ and immigrant residents, says Ruiz. It is also heavily Democratic and thus the expectation is that two Democrats will advance out of the March primary and compete head-to-head in November for the seat. The Assembly district boundaries have been redrawn over the years and a portion of it was part of the district that former assemblymember Jackie Goldberg, an open lesbian represented in the early 2000s. Other than that, no LGBTQ person has represented it in Sacramento.
To learn more about his candidacy, visit his campaign site at ariruiz.com.
igan creciendo juntos. ¡Feliz día de San Valentín mis gays!