The LA Podcast
< County Supervisors

Name: Mark Ridley-Thomas

DOB: November 6, 1954

Took Office: 2008

Relevant Relatives: Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (Son, Former State Assemblymember) and Avis Ridley-Thomas (Wife, Worked in the City Attorney’s Office for a longtime)

Notable Past Roles:

  • California State Senator
  • California State Assemblymember
  • LA City Councilmember

Who does he represent?
The 2nd District covers mid-city, parts of South Central LA all the way down to Hawthorne and Gardena.

Where’s he from?
Mark-Ridley Thomas or MRT as he is known was born and raised in LA. 

How did he get here?
After getting his doctorate in Social Ethics and Policy Analysis from USC, MRT taught high school for a few years. He moved on to become the Executive Director of SCLC of Greater Los Angeles, an African-American civil rights organization formed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Ralph Abernathy, Andrew Young and several other famous civil right leaders. His first political office was in 1991 as a LA City Councilmember. Ridley-Thomas spent almost 12 years on the Council, then went up to the state legislature serving in both houses and then came back down to LA to live the good life as a County Supervisor.

He’s been a County Supervisor for 12 years now and wants to return to City Council.

What does he care about?
Back when MRT was on City Council, he founded a participatory government initiative called the Empowerment Congress which is still in operation in his district. Ridley-Thomas took office during the Rodney King uprisings and with his background at a civil rights organization, he wanted to engage activists and community members. The Empowerment Congress initially dealt with the issue of police brutality as that was the dominant problem but as time went on, their scope began to include other neighborhood and city issues too. The Empowerment Congress helped to lay the foundation for the citywide Neighborhood Council system which MRT proudly helped to create.

Throughout his time in all these various roles, Ridley-Thomas has focused on major systemic problems like homelessness and criminal system reform. Sometimes, he does useful things like help the County pass Measure H, a bond measure to fund homeless services. And he recently called on the unhinged LA County Sheriff to resign. Other times, he does things that are harmful like voting to signal his desire for the Supreme Court to overturn a federal ruling that allowed folks to sleep on sidewalks when insufficient shelter was made available by local governments.

Mostly, MRT has been in office too long and so it seems what he cares about most is his next political move.