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June 5, 2018 — California Primary Election
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California State AssemblyCandidate for District 54

Photo of Steve Dunwoody

Steve Dunwoody

Veterans Nonprofit Executive
6,409 votes (8.5%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Protecting the health of those near Inglewood oil field, phasing out urban oil drilling/fracking and moving towards renewable energy.
  • Stabilizing the high cost of housing to stop the skyrocketing rate of rentals and home purchases, requiring affordable housing in new developments.
  • Working to achieve a single payer healthcare system in the state.



Profession:Veterans Nonprofit Executive
Delegate, California Democratic Party — Elected position (2017–current)
California Director, The Vet Voice Foundation (2014–2018)
Special Assistant, Obama Administration — Appointed position (2009–2012)


Kent State University BA, Poliitical Science (current)
Kent State University Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Poliitical Science (current)

Community Activities

Member, Sierra Club (2016–current)



He previously worked as the California Director of the Vet Voice Foundation, a national organization of 500,000 of veterans, family members, and active military that works to use the voices of Veterans to speak out on legislation and public policy issues such as the environment, healthcare, education, and civil rights. He’s played a key role in protecting our public lands from oil drilling interests, fighting for immigrant and LGBTQ rights, and barnstorming around California to lower drug prices, laying the groundwork for the single-payer healthcare campaign.

Steve grew up with parents who emphasized the importance of working hard, getting a good education, and being involved. Both his parents worked on the auto assembly line, his mother later opening a neighborhood flower shop, while his father served as the Chief Union Steward of his plant. Steve’s first political experience was handing out flyers for his dad’s union campaigns. His first job was working the cash register in his mother’s shop. 

Steve graduated from public high school and then attended Kent State University, a college with storied tradition of activism. To serve his country and to pay the bills, he enlisted in the Air National Guard, which helped pay the bills. After 9/11, he went with his construction unit to Iraq, where he worked as a financial manager, handling millions of dollars in reconstruction contracts.

After 9/11, his unit was activated to serve in Iraq and build infrastructure there. In the absence of banks, Steve served as a financial manager. He was entrusted with making trips with $1 million cash slung over his shoulder to pay contractors. He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for his service. 

Soon after his return, he heard a young Senator named Barack Obama courageously proclaim it was time to end the “tyranny of oil” in front of a group of autoworkers. Steve was inspired to join his presidential campaign early in Iowa and organized in seven states across the country for the next two years, managing dozens of staff and volunteers. Later, ss an official in the Obama administration, he launched a program to get jobs for veterans in the energy sector and briefed senior White House staff.

Since then, Steve has been on the frontlines of progressive fights to secure single-payer healthcare and achieve 100% renewable energy. He traveled around California campaigning on measures to lower drug costs and played a pivotal role the preservation the San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument. In Sacramento, in DC, and in his own LA community, he’s worked closely with dozens of partners, advocating for legislation and policy to get things done.

He is committed to uniting our incredibly diverse district around our shared progressive values. Together we will lead the resistance to Trump's policy and make California into a model of progressive acton for a better future for everyone. If elected, Steve would also be the first openly gay African-American to serve in the Assembly. 

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of California Education Fund (4)

What do you think the State should do to encourage affordable housing for all Californians?
Answer from Steve Dunwoody:

1. We need to institute strong protections for tenants.

  • Cities need the power to the strengthen rent control and to prevent landlords and developers from evicting long-time tenants.
  • We can start by repealing the Costa-Hawkins Act and reforming the Ellis Act.

2. We need to make sure a significant percentage of new private housing development is dedicated to be permanently affordable to low-income families.

There isn't enough funding to build all the affordable housing our state needs. But by capturing the value created by building more densely, especially near transit, we can have private developers create a large share of the affordable units we need.


3. Community land trusts are a proven tool to provide permanently affordable housing. 

Housing shouldn't be a commodity. Land trusts give ownership of land and housing to a resident-governed board which is mandated to make the housing available to those with lower incomes. These trusts are an excellent tool for reducing speculation and ought to encourage the creation of more of them and the growth of the existing land trusts in South LA.

According to a "Civility In America” survey, 75% of Americans believe that the U.S. has a major civility problem. If you are elected what will do to address this?
Answer from Steve Dunwoody:

Angst and incivility are usually coupled with fear and economic uncertaintly about the future, this can be helped by advocating for policies that support people and promote California family values.

1. Closing the Pay Gap Working full-time should be a recipe for economic advancement. That's why Steve supports the Fight for $15, a living wage andn gender pay equality. 

2. Invest in social services and community based re-entry programs, not bigger jails and prisons.

3.Our state was an early pioneer in paid family leave, but we’ve fallen behind. We need to lead again with a comprehensive paid leave policy that offers 12-weeks paid leave to bond with a new child or to care for an ill family member.

4. Childcare is a challenge to nearly every growing family in this state. We need to pursue an integrated, accessible, and high-quality system of childcare and preschool programs for all California babies, toddlers and preschoolers.


Climate changes, and the shifting between very wet weather and drought, worry Californians. What strategies would allow that your district to both satisfy its water needs and protect the environment? Please be specific.
Answer from Steve Dunwoody:

1. Our first priority is to protect our communities from the toxins that come from oil drilling, refineries, hazardous waste facilities, and household products.

We can no longer accept the oil drilling that pollutes our communities – in West Adams, Culver City, Ladera Heights, Baldwin Hills, and beyond – and endangers our health. This is matter of environmental justice. A majority of the people living within five miles of the Inglewood Oil Field are African-American. They are suffering disproportionately from the increased rates of asthma, cancer, and other illnesses caused by drilling.

Oil companies should disclose the chemicals they use in drilling, fracking, and refining. They need to install monitoring systems to so we can be sure toxins aren’t leaking into our air, water, and soil.

We need more frequent inspections of hazardous waste facilities and more accountable oversight of toxic site cleanups.

We will work to pass a law that gives back local governments the power to protect us from heavy-polluting factories and refineries that emit toxins that pollute the air and water in our neighborhoods. 


2.  We will fight to keep California as a world leader in the battle against climate change and to push for programs that benefit our district's communities directly.

We will fight for measures that get our state to 100% clean energy by 2035.

We need to invest even more of the money raised from the "cap and trade" system into urban greening. Los Angeles has less parks accessibility than most large cities and less tree cover too. This is an especially severe problem in the neighborhoods that are predominantly Black and Latino.

Planting trees and creating parks is a sure way to keep our communities healthy and to keep our neighborhoods cool as temperatures rise because of climate change.

3. We will fight to make sure we don’t miss the once-in-a-century opportunity to transition to more democratic energy system and a more self-reliant water system.

Clean, renewable electricity from the sun gives us the opportunity to build a democratic energy system. Let’s figure out how low-income folks and renters can get clean energy just as quickly as homeowners along the coast.

It's time for Los Angeles to become water independent. It’s going to be more important than ever to take the rain that we get directly in L.A. because global warming is decreasing the amount of water we can get from Northern California. We can become far better at capturing, cleaning, and storing it. We have the right technology from urban greening to good filtration systems and more — now we just need the political will.

4.  We will fight protect our coasts and our oceans from threats like offshore drilling and plastic pollution.

5. We will encourage the development of technologies that remove greenhouse gases directly from the atmosphere and turns the carbon into useful products for consumers and businesses.

What programs or strategies would you suggest to meet the educational needs of the youngest and most poverty stricken Californians?
Answer from Steve Dunwoody:

Every Californian deserves a quality education. Decades of cuts have decimated a system that once led the world from kindergarten through graduate schools. We will fight for a strong education system with strong, well-funded K-12 schools and guaranteed higher education for all who want to attend. 

1. We need to increase funding for K-12 public schools, especially those serving disadvantaged students, and to reduce teacher shortages.

Steve supports closing loopholes in the commercial property tax code to raise more than $10 billion annually for schools, community colleges, and local services. This will allow us to restore California’s schools to the world-class excellence that existed before the passage Prop 13 in 1978 decimated their funding.

Every school that receives taxpayer dollars should be transparent in their operations, accountable for their student performance, and allow their employees to organize and bargain collectively.


2. Every in-state student ready and willing to do the work should be able to attend public college or university — just like generations of Californians before them.

Thanks to California's 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education, we once had a world-class system of public colleges and universities that were 100% tuition-free. But we've dropped the ball.

The State Legislature has cut funding for UCs and CSUs more than a dozen times. Per student spending is below year 2000 levels. It's time to reverse that decline and realize the full promise of California's higher education system. We want to build on the recently-passed guarantee of one year cost-free community college so that ultimately all students can graduate from college debt-free.

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $65,307

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

California Nurses Association
Employees of Vet Voice Foundation
VoteVets and employees
Employees of Anne Earhart
Employees of David Conrad

More information about contributions

By State:

California 73.14%
District of Columbia 6.45%
Louisiana 5.85%
Illinois 4.00%
Other 10.56%

By Size:

Large contributions (90.86%)
Small contributions (9.14%)

By Type:

From organizations (21.27%)
From individuals (78.73%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

People first. 

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