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Tuesday March 2, 2021 — Special Election
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California State SenateCandidate for District 30Short Term

Photo of Daniel Lee

Daniel Lee

Vice Mayor
9,458 votes (13.4%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Healthcare for All
  • Employment and Housing for All
  • Public Safety as a Public Health



Culver City Vice Mayor Daniel Lee became the first African-American Member of the Culver City Council in its over 100-year history in 2018. A veteran of the US Air Force and California Air National Guard, he currently works as Project Director at the James Lawson Institute. Daniel has a Master’s Degree in Social Welfare from UCLA and is a doctoral candidate at USC. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Move to Amend, the Backbone Campaign, Mockingbird Incubator, and the Clean Power Alliance. 

Born in Opelika, Alabama and raised in Pensacola, Florida (with frequent trips back home to visit family in and around Tuskegee, Alabama) Daniel credits his grandmother, who participated with Dr. Martin Luther King in the Montgomery bus boycott, for his desire to be of service and for his own social justice perspective. He served on the Culver City Martin Luther King Celebration Committee for 7 years, planning its citywide celebration of the iconic Civil Rights leader.

Much of Mr. Lee’s local effort has been with youth. A filmmaker and actor, he has volunteered with El Rincon Elementary School students in an artist and communication program for the past 17 years. He also developed a Civil Rights curriculum that he implemented at the Teen Center to increase young people’s understanding of their country’s history.


City Council Work Experience

As a Council Member Lee has championed mental health, police accountability and very notably worked to close the Inglewood Oil Field. Lee worked on this effort prior to his election with the Sierra Club’s Clean Break Subcommittee. As a passionate environmental advocate, Lee will work to accelerate the sorely needed “Just Transition” away from Fossil Fuels using innovative strategies that don’t leave workers in the lurch and provide for good union jobs. Lee also worked to help Culver City pass, and recently successfully defend, its rent control policy.  At the state level, Lee will work for increased renter protections, the repeal of Costa Hawkins, and the acceleration of housing production in a manner that incorporates community concerns around affordability, gentrification, and displacement. Specifically, Lee’s campaign platform also includes a push for Healthcare and Housing for All, Public Health as Public Safety, addressing Environmental Racism &  the Climate Crisis, Public Pension Reform and divestment from corporate landlords through the Divest from Displacement campaign and People-Centered Economic Development.


Union Involvement

In the 2016 election cycle, Lee worked as a campaign lead for the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Prior to that he was a member of the SAG-AFTRA for over a decade and has demonstrated repeatedly over the last few decades with grocery workers, writers, and port workers advocating for higher wages. Daniel understands that as union wages and benefits rise there is a positive impact on the wages of all workers. For the past 4 years, Daniel has worked closely with Rev. James Lawson who has served as a mentor and co-organizer for unions throughout Southern California.


Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $32,754

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

Employees of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Employees of Los Angeles Unified School District
Employees of United States Department of Veterans Affairs
Employees of Good Earth Natural Foods
Employees of Sony/Showtime

More information about contributions

By State:

California 92.98%
Illinois 2.27%
Colorado 2.03%
Washington 1.22%
Other 1.50%

By Size:

Large contributions (75.29%)
Small contributions (24.71%)

By Type:

From organizations (3.04%)
From individuals (96.96%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

This nation has to change. It might as well start with us here in California. Los Angeles County is a microcosm of income inequality, and the 30th district is the epicenter of this economic dichotomy. In Culver City 45% of our residents are renters, in Los Angeles County that number is 54.58% and in California that number stands at 45%. In California Senate District 30 55.9% of households are rent or mortgage burdened. Many of us are struggling to survive and the COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation worse.


In Sacramento there is a tendency to pat ourselves on the back and to hold up California as a bastion of progressivism or a liberal utopia. This simply is not true. In 2016 California ranked 37th in education spending. When it comes to income inequality California ranks #4 out of all 50 states. In Los Angeles County alone nearly 900 people have been killed by police since the year 2000, but only two officers have been charged. We are a state in need of transformation.


When it comes to equitable healthcare California has also failed repeatedly. SB 562 is the latest iteration of this failure but it does not stand alone. The COVID-19 pandemic has opened hearts and minds to the absolute necessity of a single payer healthcare system, but we still lack the political will to make it happen.


Our statewide housing crisis continues unabated. The housing policies being championed at the state level have been forward-looking when it comes to physical construction and increasing the number of units available. But they have not incorporated the affordability concerns of communities who see blind upzoning as a tool of displacement, nor have they incorporated the concerns of organized labor.


People cannot be healthy if they are not housed. If our state musters the political courage to enact single-payer healthcare we must also make sure that the beneficiaries of this care are properly sheltered. This means expanded homelessness services and stronger protections for renters.


In the coming months I will continue to expand on these policy priorities and plans for the 30th district. I hope you allow me the opportunity to earn your support. I have briefly elaborated on a few key policy points below.




Employment and Housing for All

We cannot address our healthcare crisis without addressing our housing crisis. If people are rent-burdened, they are more stressed, they have more mental and physical health issues. In short, they are unhealthy. Health begins with housing. This is not to say that our unhoused brothers and sisters and non-binary people are not able to have robust mental and physical physiques without being housed. But, for long term physical and mental health, being housed should be the minimum that we require. Health begins with housing.


I’m running because as a renter I am disappointed with the lip service that our state officials have given the plight of renters while voting against bills that would provide them more protections. Similarly, we need to build much more affordable housing. Instead of suggesting policy innovations that would provide nuance, prevent displacement and support a just transition, our leadership in California has instead given us flowery words and lackluster policy initiatives that assume that any housing will solve the crisis when the crux of the problem is around affordability. We need action and we need to elect representatives that will sponsor bills and propose legislation that improves not only the amount of housing available but makes sure that working class Californians can afford it.


Public Safety as Public Health

I’m running because instead of instituting substantive change in response to the unprecedented uprising this summer against white supremacy and police brutality our state legislature has only offered us eloquent phrases on the state level without more substantive policy action. 


Environmental Racism and the Climate Crisis

I’m running because though we hear inspiring words from our state leaders when it comes to addressing the climate crisis we lack swift and concrete policy action that can address the deleterious health effects felt by frontline communities of color and low income communities. The most basic step would be establishing an appropriate setback (2500 ft is recommended) from oil operations and not only for sensitive receptors but all regular life and work activities. The larger and sorely needed step is to end oil extraction in the State of California. We need transformational change in all aspects of our energy production, dissemination and consumption to address the looming climate catastrophe.


Public Pension Reform/Divest from Displacement

I’m running to halt the practice of using pension funds that working class and middle class workers have paid into to fund their displacement. We must stop funding our own banishment. This summer I began the Divest from Displacement campaign to work towards pressuring funds like CAPERS, CALSTRS, LACERA and others to divest from corporate landlords like the Blackstone Group who use investments from those pension funds to gentrify the neighborhoods of pension holders. In Sacramento I will continue to make sure that the hard earned money that California workers pay into their retirement plans does not also work to push them out of the place where they live.


People-Centered Economic Development

Economic development focused on community participation from the start is essential for the long-term sustainability of our economy. Environmental sustainability is essential for the long term functionality of our economy. Policies such as community land trusts, social housing, startup incubators and other innovative but proven strategies can help us work towards an economy that not only works for investors but also for the communities in which businesses reside.


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