After two races for Congress in 2020, Christy Smith is ready to make a comeback.
The former assemblywoman announced on Wednesday that she will once again run for California’s 25th Congressional District again in 2022 after a narrow 333-vote loss to Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita) last year.
Smith expressed her eagerness to run a more traditional campaign as the number of vaccinations and reopenings in Los Angeles County increase. She said in the last election that “we chose not to do door-to-door canvassing because of the COVID-19 pandemic… we chose to keep our volunteers and our voters safe.” With less in-person outreach, she believed this decision was a possible factor in her campaign not gaining as much popularity as it could have under normal circumstances.
“It’s important to communicate with constituents,” Smith emphasized, noting her plans for town hall-styled events with voters in the future. The hope for a typical campaign, with canvassing, knocking on doors and in-person talks with prospective voters, is something Smith’s looking forward to, adding that it can sometimes be awkward to talk with people virtually instead of face-to-face.
Life being put in a standstill because of the pandemic has affected her family like many others. She said her “oldest daughter is a recent college graduate and this has not been a good environment to find employment, so that has been a challenge.” Her youngest daughter was a child care employee when the coronavirus hit and was quickly out of work.
Roller skating found its way as a place to unwind from the pandemic and stresses of last year’s campaign. Smith, along with her daughters, joined the “Skating Mamas of SCV” Facebook group, a group of neighbors, parents and friends who meet at Central Park every weekend to skate and safely socialize. For Smith, “roller skating is nostalgic for me and many people my age and I think that’s why it’s probably picking back up.” The 80’s music playing during the skating meet-ups further drive that nostalgic feeling, Smith said.
Watching the pandemic unfold over the last year, Smith said workers in the restaurant industry have suffered due to the state and county’s handling of the pandemic from the start. She said she wished there had been more resources for small businesses specifically, and “had we been able to infuse them with more cash and more support for their employees earlier on, it would have been easier for a lot of people to endure what we went through.”
“The one thing I wish that both the state and our counties had a better handle on is better support for our business community,” Smith emphasized.
However, she believes everyone still needs to remain cautious. With places starting to reopen (specifically Los Angeles County moving into the less restrictive orange tier), Smith emphasized that “not doing our part by mask-wearing and not doing our part by getting the vaccine… has a direct impact on our economy and our ability to recover.”
Taking her time to live life and be with her family during the pandemic, Smith said she believes that high concentration on the presidential election drew attention away from voting down-ballot in local elections.
“We do know that over 10,000 voters in CA-25 voted in the presidential [election] but not down ticket and that makes a huge difference,” she said.
With L.A. County finalizing their citizen redistricting commission in December, it could likely play a large part in the outcome of the next congressional election. With the effort meant to represent the diversity of each county, Smith thinks with “a redrawing of all of the local maps for seats… we may see a significant change.”
Although the electoral results of such change are 20 months away, Garcia’s response to the 2020 presidential election continues to be on voters’ minds. Garcia’s objection to the electoral vote count in favor of then-President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 6 left many in the 25th District concerned, with some calling it an obstruction of the democratic process.
“We need to restore confidence in the damage that was attempted to be done by the Republican party, particularly [former President Donald Trump],” Smith said on the matter.
Part of this restoration means standing up for laborers of all stripes, in what Smith believes to be a contrast between her and her congressman.
In the Assembly, Smith voted in favor of Assembly Bill 5, which sought to reclassify the worker statuses of employees and independent contractors. Opposition to the bill saw it as a way to remove the choice of individuals to remain independent, while proponents saw it as a way to protect workers’ rights. Proposition 22 on last year’s ballot successfully defined professions such as rideshare drivers as independent contractors and “adopt[ed] labor and wage policies specific to app-based drivers and companies.”
Currently, a federal version of AB5 is seen in H.R. 842, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which passed the House of Representatives on the 9th of this month and is awaiting a vote in the Senate. Rep. Garcia was one of the 206 “No” votes on the bill, with a 225 “Yes” vote majority.
“Rep. Garcia has proven time and time again that he is against the rights of working men and women… [the PRO Act] is really about the right of people to bargain collectively, to form a union for their rights and their compensation in the workplace,” Smith said. “Unions built the American middle class and no one in this country should work a full time job and live below the poverty level.”
While she’s looking forward to another congressional race, Smith looked back on her Assembly seat and her successor. Recently, Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares co-authored A.B. 420 which allows theme parks, such as Six Flags Magic Mountain, to reopen with modified guidelines. Smith supports this move and adds “there will be adherence to protocols, I think if the theme parks are diligent in their cleaning and cautious about line spacing and people are able to interact safely outdoors with masks on it should be okay.”
Reflecting on her prior service in Santa Clarita, Smith said she’s proud of her work up to this point as she steps back into the arena.
“I want to be in office to get things done and support the communities of north L.A. County and Ventura County and really have a meaningful impact in peoples’ day to day lives,” she said. “It’s a fight that’s worth having.”