Sebastian Ridley-Thomas first became aware of the value of public service as a child during the 1992 LA Riots. With frustration mounting to a tipping point in South Los Angeles, he watched his mother, Avis Ridley-Thomas, a pioneer in conflict resolution – and his father, Mark Ridley-Thomas, then a member of the L.A. City Council call for peace, days of dialogue, and a reformation of community governance.
Inspired by the opportunity to follow in his parents’ footsteps, he went to work for the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington D.C. to advocate for universal health care, just as the Obama Administration proposed the outline of what is now known as the Affordable Care Act.
After his work on Capitol Hill, Sebastian returned to Los Angeles eager to serve his community. He was admitted into the Senate Fellowship Program and quickly promoted from Senate fellow to public policy director. While serving in this capacity, Sebastian’s work included advising on three policy areas: catalyzing economic development in blighted areas, promoting the safety of our communities, and improving the delivery of health care in South Los Angeles.
Sebastian was elected to the state Assembly in December 2013 and immediately tasked himself with increasing access to high-quality public education, promoting the inclusion of minority businesses in private and public sector contracting, and promoting professional development and achievement for women.
Since his election, he has built a reputation as an innovative problem solver committed to improving the quality of life in South Los Angeles. His work has included extending the operation of the Baldwin Hills Conservancy to protect and increase access to open recreational space in the community, authoring legislation to prohibit consumer racial profiling, increasing public contracting opportunities for minority business enterprises, advancing the deployment of clean energy, and expanding access to mental health care.
Besides his work in Sacramento, Sebastian maintains an active presence in his neighborhood. He has held events that have focused on services for autistic children, veterans’ access to mental health services, the threat posed by communicable diseases, voter engagement, job fairs at the Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw mall, and police interactions with the mentally ill. He also hosts the Crenshaw HealthFest annually to bring free health services into Assembly District 54.