The grassroots movement is the heartbeat of the Democratic Party. Persistent and coordinated grassroots efforts produced historic gains in the House in 2018 and led to the first presidential incumbent defeat in a generation in 2020. The Grassroots Slate in the 50th Assembly District seeks to represent the grassroots heart of our district. We are a diverse group of progressive activists committed to building the California Democratic Party from the bottom-up – always leading with empathy, moral clarity, thoughtfulness, and the tireless determination of our grassroots spirit.
Meet the Candidates
Chelsea Byers is a community organizer and social impact strategist. She’s an ongoing contributor to Beautiful Trouble: Toolbox for Revolution where she studies, supports, and showcases campaigning at the intersection of arts and politics within social movements around the globe. As a Westside renter, Chelsea is dedicated to building people power in support of eradicating the root causes driving LA’s homelessness and housing affordability crisis through United Way’s Everyone In campaign. Her life-long activism with the anti-war and anti-sexual violence movements has led her to work with and through media to raise the profile on critical and overlooked issues, create activist training camps and advocacy programs ushering thousands of people into resistance and solutions work, and put her body on the line for justice. Before moving to Los Angeles, Chelsea worked as Director of Arizona's Coconino County Democratic Party through the 2014 mid-term cycle. She currently serves on board of National Women’s Political Caucus, Abundant Housing Los Angeles, and the Westside Young Democrats.
Ana Maria Jara
Ana Maria Jara takes her passion and community expertise to make vision a reality. She has lived in Santa Monica for almost 40 years – 36 of those in the same rent-controlled apartment – and has worked at Santa Monica College for 30 years in the International Education Center. She has been a tireless advocate for smart and inclusive solutions to issues of inequity in Santa Monica. Ana brings her life experience and skills in working with a diverse community, particularly multicultural and multiethnic group, and is a strong supporter and advocate for labor.
Ana has served on numerous boards and organizations playing a vital leadership role to impact the lives of youth and families in Santa Monica. Her first entry into civic engagement was as an advocate with The Quiet Minority. Since then she has served on PTSA as member and co-chair. She has participated as District Advisory Committee member for multiple groups and co-founded various district-wide committees (i.e., equity for education). She has served as Chair for the Commission on the Status of Women and Vice-Chair on the Social Services Commission, and in January of 2019 she was appointed to serve as Member of the City Council of Santa Monica.
On a broader scope. Ana was Co-Chair for NAFSA, the Association of International Educators; served as Chair for the Latina Youth Conference Committee; Council-President at St. Anne’s Catholic Church and Shrine; Board Member to LA Voice/Pico; and as Representative in Leadership Assembly to Pico National. She has also served as an Executive Board Member of Santa Monica Democratic Club and is currently a member of Human Relations Council.
Tamara Melzer Levenson
I am Tamara Levenson, running for re-election as delegate on the Grassroots Slate in AD50. I believe the Democratic Party is made stronger by melding the grassroots into the established political process, as proven by the Blue Tsunami witnessed across the country.
I am a lifelong activist for human rights who entered the political sphere in 2015. I could no longer sit idly by listening to the racist and misogynistic rhetoric on the GOP side of the Presidential election and became a volunteer leader at the 2016 Westside Democratic HQ. At the conclusion of the election, I immediately began mobilizing people across the country working on red-to-blue elections. I’ve dedicated myself to bringing diverse groups of volunteers together to support the phone-banking, texting and voter-engagement needs of campaigns.
In 2015/16 as the National Code Blue Phone Bank Coordinator I worked on almost 50 state and federal elections across the country and became the Co-Manager & Field Director of the 2018 Westside Democratic HQ where I managed the team that was instrumental in flipping 7 California Congressional Seats. We made 1.9 million phone calls, through 3,500 phone bank shifts in LA and over 4,000 phone bank shifts at more than 90 remote phone bank locations including a remote system for those calling from home. We also provided 19 buses to 8 congressional races, completing over 600 canvassing shifts.
I believe year round early engagement is key to winning elections which is why I became the Executive Director of 2019/20 Grassroots Democrats HQ which began as a brick and mortar location and is now a national virtual operation with the mission to Defend the House, Flip the Senate and Take Back the White House. I led a national operation which combined forces with the Progressives for Biden and Seniors for Biden Coalition team which included running a National GOTV staging location in addition to a California GOTV staging location. In total we made over 5.4 million phone calls, over 2 million texts and sent over 600,000 postcards. I launched a Fellowship Program which mentors over 40 young adults nationally who help to power the operation of the HQ.
I am currently a member of the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club Board and the Controller for the Democrats for Israel California. My formal training is in social work and nonprofit management. I began my career working for United Way in both New Jersey and Los Angeles as Director of Fund Distribution. I've worked in a variety of community-oriented nonprofits coordinating large scale events, managing volunteers, doing board development, fundraising and managing financial operations.
This is our generation's civil rights movement. The rights and privileges I grew up with are under assault and it is our duty to fight for our future. As a delegate, I will represent our progressive platform and continue to promote and enable participation in our electoral process. This is why I am so proud to be running on the Grassroots Slate, which represents the diversity of the progressive arm of our California Democratic Party.
I am Andrea Morgan-Chun, running for delegate in AD50 on the Grassroots Slate. Currently, I serve on the Steering Committee of Indivisible CA-33. My involvement with Indivisible CA-33 is the natural progression of years of advocacy and volunteer work with grassroots groups including MoveOn.org, Health4all Coalition, Tax March and Lawyers for Good Government, as well as Election Protection-Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Following various workplace incidents early in my professional life, I decided to study law to learn about my rights as a woman, an employee, and someone moving through a world where others held power and resources. At Fordham Law School, I was the Editor-in-Chief of the International Law Journal. Later, I practiced law in New York and Los Angeles with two top-50 law firms, which allowed me to do Pro Bono work for the Democratic Governors Association. My law career made me acutely aware of the importance of who serves in the judiciary.
I left corporate law to open an independent bicycle shop in Santa Monica with my husband. While I am the wife and daughter of Asian immigrants, I am also a native Californian in love with our natural ecology. As a local entrepreneur, I am invested in supporting our community's mandate toward environmental sustainability and fortunate to actively contribute to environmental responsibility – not just preach it.
Elsewhere in the community, I served as a Deacon and an Elder at First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica, where I am a member. I was one of many voices in the church advocating for the welcoming inclusion of LGBTQ+ members in the clergy and all aspects of church life, including marriage, before it was approved at the federal level.
I have been serving on the executive board of the PTA at my child's public school for over a decade. As a longtime proponent of quality public education, I will advocate to increase funding to our schools, decrease the student teacher ratio, and eradicate student debt.
Each chapter of my background highlights an area that continues to be of importance to me: ensuring a qualified, well balanced judiciary; working as a community toward ecological responsibility; advocating for inclusivity for the disenfranchised and the voiceless; and nurturing a sustainable school system that benefits all. I look forward to serving as your delegate. Thank you for your consideration.
I'm Jackie Pepper, a sports journalist whose passion for people and exploring the human condition extends beyond my profession, and into the field of politics.
As a grassroots activist, I've worked diligently to hold our elected officials accountable via my work on the Steering Committee of Indivisible CA-33. I also serve as our chapter's liaison to Rep. Ted Lieu's office. I've knocked doors for candidates across seven California congressional districts, helped register voters across the country and participated in dozens of races (on behalf of Democratic candidates, via phone, text messaging and postcards) nationwide.
I'm proud to be a part of the coordinated grassroots efforts which produced substantial gains in the House in 2018 and led to the most important Presidential Election outcome of our lifetime in 2020.
With a Biden/Harris Administration on the horizon, now is the time for Democrats to not only undo the damage of the Trump presidency, but to seize the opportunity to take historic steps toward progress and justice in all facets of our society.
The California Democratic Party is large in both size and influence, thus the behavior, values and platform of our party has national implications.
Agenda items I'd like to focus on include vastly improving the healthcare system, environmental sustainability, dismantling structural and institutional inequality to ensure equity for all, strengthening our democracy and committing to diverse representation within the Democratic Party.
I'm running on the Grassroots Slate, which is a unique group of innovative activists committed to leading with empathy, moral clarity, thoughtfulness, and the tireless determination of our grassroots spirit.
Noemi Torres is an immigrant from Guadalajara, Mexico. She is in a nutshell, a renaissance woman. From acting, photography and working as a real estate agent at Compass Sunset, she enjoys her life and is quite active with her community. She volunteers at several organizations such as Project Angel Food, Downtown Women's Center, Corazon de Vida, and Skid Row Carnival of Love – just to mention a few. In 2017, she was named "Woman of the Year" by Congressman Adam Schiff.
She serves with the City of West Hollywood as a Public Facilities Commissioner. As an Emerge CA 2019 graduate, she launched a campaign to run for West Hollywood City Council in the November 2020 election.
Noemi lives in West Hollywood with her 13 year old rescue pitbull Sadie.
Aura Vasquez is a Colombian-born immigrant, community organizer, and business owner who strives to amplify the voices of people who have been, historically, unheard. She began her career in the office of New York Congressman Eliot Engel. Since then, she has led California communities in a string of bipartisan victories, tackling some of the biggest issues facing the everyday lives of its residents. She designed the campaign that ended the unfair impoundment laws targeting immigrants by police in Orange County, fought to protect low-cost housing targeted by luxury condominium developers in Koreatown, and was instrumental in securing a coal-free Los Angeles by 2025.
Vasquez is the Chair of the Los Angeles Climate Action Committee at the Sierra Club. She was the youngest and the first immigrant to serve on the Board of Commissioners for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and her 2018 work with the National Democratic Training Committee helped flip the U.S. House of Representatives to a Democratic majority. Her work was an essential element to the success of the 2018 Blue Wave that led to a Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. She was recently a candidate for Los Angeles City Council and is a proud board member of the League of Conservation Voters, Heart of L.A Democratic Club, and Stonewall Democratic Club.
Through advocacy, effective organizing skills, and expanding the electorate, Aura Vasquez seeks to build a Democratic party that is inclusive, sustainable, and accountable to all the people of Los Angeles.
My name is Steve Bott. I'm a lifelong Democrat and have been a party activist since volunteering on Howard Dean's Primary campaign of 2003/2004. I have served for over five years as the Operations Vice President of Stonewall Democratic Club, served as an Elizabeth Warren delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2020, and have been elected to three consecutive terms as a California Democratic Party Assembly District Delegate. As a CDP delegate, I have served on both the Affirmative Action and Credentials Committees. I have also advocated for – and successfully passed – rules meant to make the delegate election process (the ADEM process) more fair and accessible. As the organizer of the Grassroots Slate in the 50th Assembly District, my mission is to cultivate diverse representation across the district and bring new, progressive voices into the California Democratic Party.
I grew up in a Democratic household. A child of the 80s, some of my earliest memories are clouded by negative and hateful rhetoric against the LGBTQ+ community by the Republican Party. The darkness of those memories has motivated me to help create and sustain a Democratic Party that will always strive to live up to our highest values: treating everyone with respect, regardless of who they are; being empathetic and open-minded; governing with the intent to elevate and support communities and people; and standing up against racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia and transphobia.
I think it's time that California Democrats lead by example, and transform our progressive platform into impactful change for our state. We need to take aggressive action on climate change, invest in our public schools, fundamentally transform the criminal justice system, build a healthcare system that treats healthcare as a human right, and take bold steps to solve our housing shortage and homelessness crisis.
I'm proud to be running alongside so many amazing and talented grassroots activists on the Grassroots Slate – and I ask for your support so that we can continue to build an inclusive and representative California Democratic Party that will fight for our values.
Daniel Bral is a 27-year-old born and raised Angeleno, the son of Jewish Iranian immigrants. He received his bachelor's degree from UCLA in history with an emphasis in business economics. Upon graduating, he worked at William Morris Endeavor in their music department for two years. In May 2020, Daniel received his J.D. from Loyola Law School, where he was elected Executive Editor of the International and Comparative Law Review. His law review article, which analyzes Israel's "Nation-State Law," was one of three articles chosen for publication. Prior to the 2018 midterm elections, Daniel organized Loyola's voter registration drives as an executive board member of the school's American Constitution Society club, and now serves as a board member of the ACS Los Angeles chapter.
During law school, Daniel served as an economic opportunity policy intern for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, primarily focusing on homelessness initiatives. Amongst other achievements, Daniel drafted the Right to Counsel motion, which provides free counsel to low-income tenants facing eviction; he identified and transformed a vacant downtown property into a "Bridge Home" shelter, which now houses over forty women and children; and he spearheaded daily voter registration drives, registering 172 people experiencing homelessness in advance of the 2018 midterm elections. He also recently served as a law clerk and communications associate for Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer.
At each and every step of the way, Daniel has zealously advocated for the least advantaged – be it people experiencing homelessness or people of color seeking equal opportunity. He intends to bring that same compassion and moral clarity to the California Democratic Party to meaningfully address homelessness, systemic racism and inequality, climate change, and gun violence, and promote a foreign policy that is centered on diplomacy and mutual respect and understanding that upholds democracy and human rights.
Brian Colker is the CFO and founding member of the Grassroots Democrats HQ, a founder of the Westside Democrats HQ in 2018, and has become a leader in the local grassroots movement. He helped organize a door knocking program in 2018 that reached 250,000 doors across 13 districts in California and helped swing seven Congressional districts to the Democrats that year. Brian is passionate about the expansion of voting rights, implementing the Green New Deal, and addressing income inequality through a living wage and improved healthcare benefits.
Scott E. Epstein
I am a grassroots community leader with a passion for building just and sustainable communities. As Chair of the Mid City West Community Council for the last 6 years, I have brought many new diverse voices into the political process. This engagement has led to real progress on important issues facing Los Angeles, including homelessness, traffic safety, and access to public space. As your delegate to the California Democratic Party, I want to continue the work of raising up new voices in service of progressive aims.
In addition to my leadership at Mid City West, I am the founder of the Midtown Los Angeles Homeless Coalition, a nonprofit working to connect our unhoused neighbors in the Midtown region of LA to services and housing. I also serve on the boards of the Miracle Mile Democratic Club and the Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance. I earned a Master of Public Policy degree from Georgetown University and work as a COVID-19 contact tracer at UCLA's Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center. I am currently running a people-powered progressive campaign for city council in Los Angeles' 5th district.
I am exceptionally proud to be running with a diverse group of civic leaders and activists on the Grassroots Slate. Our slate brings a wide variety of personal perspectives and professional backgrounds, but we share core values. We all believe that we have work to do to ensure that all Californians have access to high quality education, health care, housing, and public space. We all believe that climate change is an existential crisis, and that we need to act quickly and boldly to reduce emissions. We all are all committed to the work of anti-racism, including transforming our criminal justice system. And we all believe that progress on these issues demands true grassroots engagement. Thank you for your consideration, and we'd be honored to earn your vote.
Barry A. Snell
My Name is Barry A. Snell and I am running for Re-Election as a delegate on the Grassroots Slate for the 50th Assembly District. I am a CPA and Santa Monica resident who has been involved in the city's local politics for over 20 years.
Currently I am in my second term as an elected Trustee at Santa Monica College where I served as Board Chair during the 2018-2019 school year. In May 2020 I was elected by my fellow Trustees to serve on the California Community College State Trustee Board. In addition I served on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District K- 12 Board from 2006-2010.
I have always had a passion to improve our K-14 educational system. I have focused my energies on improving educational outcomes for students by, 1) setting policies that promote easy and low cost access to community college and 2) reducing prerequisite courses so that students can transfer and complete the require courses. I am a strong advocate for student housing and believe that it will help with our student homeless population.
I am a board member and treasurer of the Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. which is responsible for management services and operations of the property-based business assessment district in Downtown Santa Monica. I have always been an advocate for smart growth, workforce housing, and right size development while reducing traffic through new innovative means of transportation in Santa Monica.
In May of 2020, after the death of George Floyd and the civil unrest in Santa Monica's downtown, I, along with a group of African American residents at the request of City Council, formed the Santa Monica Black Lives Association to address systemic racism in city of Santa Monica. Our efforts have given a voice to residents in Santa Monica who previously felt left out and unheard. If elected, I will continue to push the party platform for equity, and social justice for minority voices.
I respectfully ask for your vote for Re-Election as a delegate, along with my Grassroots Slate members. Thank you.
Tai Esteban Sunnanon
I've spent 25 years as a political strategist for Democratic and Grassroots candidates and policies across California. My activist journey started because my parents instilled incredible values of Community service, Collaboration and Compassion. This was especially amazing, coming from my mother who immigrated from Ecuador and my father from Thailand who met, married and had two children without being able to speak much English! (Video: Meet Tai!)
Growing up in poverty in Los Angeles only fueled my fight for homeless, immigrants and affordable housing rights. I've been to the US/Mexico border 10 times to help reunite children separated from their families. But just as these policies have divided Democrats and Republicans, so too has there been division within our Party. That needs to end. Especially when an economic stimulus plan is desperately needed.
Now more than ever, our Party must unite to push for recovery efforts. AD50 residents want a Delegate who will not only stand up for our values, but who will also help reunite us to ensure that job growth, affordable housing and proven leadership are in place asap.
My Democratic, community-driven work includes:
- 25-years of running Grassroots political campaigns
- 20-years of running ballot/prop measures
- Chair Appointee of LA County Dem Party
- Chair of West Hollywood Public Facilities Commission
- E-board member of BH/WH Dem Club
- At-large Board member of Stonewall Dem Club
- Member of ROAR, Indivisible LA Chapter
- Lieutenant in the United States Air Force
I've been endorsed by over 50 community leaders, including West Hollywood Mayor, Lindsey Horvath. I'm a proud member of the Grassroots Slate and would appreciate you voting and endorsing all 14 of us. It would be my great pleasure to represent you as a Delegate to the CA Democratic Party. Let's do this! (Video: Meet Tai!).
My name is Charles Taylor, a member of the Grassroots Slate. I am an attorney for the State of California and a Veteran who has served in the U. S. Army Reserve JAG Corps and U.S. Navy Reserves for more than thirty years. I have deployed twice: Once to Kuwait for ten months in 2007 and 2008, and again earlier this year to Afghanistan for three months. I am a union member, community activist, and champion for veterans and current servicemembers, as well as policies that support core Democratic values. Today, Republican mis-information is one of the greatest threats to our core Democratic institutions, as well as our core Democratic values. To overcome these challenges, we must communicate, clearly and precisely, why our progressive Democratic policies are the best path forward for the nation. My name is Charles Taylor. And we are the Grassroots Slate. We ask for your vote, your voice, and your support. Thank you.