LEA 2023 Leadership Excellence Award

2023 Leadership Excellence Award

The Honorable Steven Bradford

California State Senate District 35

Senator Steven Bradford brings a lifetime of experience to the California Legislature. In over two decades of public service – first as a Gardena City Councilmember, then as a State Assemblymember and now as a State Senator.

Bradford made history when he became the first African American elected to the Gardena City Council. Over his 12 years on council, he helped create robust job and economic growth, and stabilized the city’s budget when the City of Gardena was $27 million in debt on the brink of bankruptcy. By the time he left the council, they had eliminated the debt, allocated $8.5 million in reserve, increased employee salaries without raising taxes or cutting essential services, and secured millions of federal dollars for various improvement projects for North Gardena.

Bradford was elected to the State Assembly in a Special Election in 2009, reelected in 2010, and again in 2012. While serving in the Assembly, Bradford rose to prominence as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce. He garnered national attention by presiding over hearings investigating the devastating state power outages.

In 2017, Bradford was elected to the California State Senate. During his tenure, Senator Bradford secured millions of dollars to support projects and programs in the district including, Compton Community College, Watts Rising for affordable housing, green space, and local workforce development. He has obtained funding for community based organizations to provide transformative rehabilitative programs, to support the Charles Drew University, and for the Mental Health Education Practitioner Fund for former foster youth and improved innovative rehabilitation programs at California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) facilities.

In 2018, Senator Bradford authored and had signed into law the California Cannabis Equity Act, a first-in-the-nation bill that encouraged equitable participation in the cannabis industry and fostered business opportunities for individuals who have been negatively impacted by the War on Drugs. Senator Bradford secured over $40 million in funding to support cannabis equity programs that address the lack of diverivity and equity within the cannabis industry by providing social equity applicants with application or licensing fee waivers and deferrals.

In his continued pursuit to enact policies that provide for equity and fairness, Senator Bradford authored a first-in-the-nation bill which allows college athletes who generate billions of dollars for corporate sponsors and their universities through the use of their name and images, to also benefit from their skills and talents. With the approval of this legislation, other states introduced bills to enact the same policy, resulting in the NCAA

also supporting the rule change, which allows student-athletes to be paid for the use of their name, image, and likeness (NIL).

As Chair of the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee, Senator Bradford helped financially empower underserved communities with funding generated from bad actors in the lending industry.

In 2020, Senator Bradford became Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety. As Chair, Senator Bradford has authored legislation to increase law enforcement transparency and accountability. He authored SB 2, arguably the most significant police reform bill California has seen in a decade. The Kenneth Ross Jr. Police Decertification Act of 2021 created the first statewide process to allow for the decertification of police officers who abuse the public trust and commit serious acts of misconduct. He has also authored legislation that allows children to consult with legal counsel prior to interrogation and before waiving their Miranda rights.

Senator Bradford can also be credited with the passage of legislation to assist consumers and businesses in maintaining and recovering during the COVID-19 Pandemic, including legislation to protect struggling tenants and small landlords by providing eviction relief and foreclosure protection, as well as funding for small business hiring tax credit programs. He also successfully advocated for $72 million for revitalization projects in underserved communities in his district.

In 2021, Senator Bradford was elected by his peers to serve as the Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC). Under his leadership, the CLBC passed legislation to improve the lives of Californians in the areas of health, public safety, education and economic development. Among those accomplishments was the grant of $40 million to begin the revitalization of the Allensworth State Park and Township. Col. Allen Allensworth built the all African American town beginning in 1908. Acts of suspected racism caused the demise of the town by the 1950’s. The Senator also authored legislation to address the return of land stolen from the Bruce family – Bruce’s Beach. His legislation authorized the County of L.A. to return Bruce’s Beach to the descendants of the Bruce family.

Also in 2021, Senator Bradford was appointed as a member to California’s Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans. The task force was charged with examining the lasting consequences of slavery in the United States and making recommendations on how California could enact reparations to those affected. The final report was completed in June 2023.

In 2022, Senator Bradford had bills signed into law which encourage water conservation, guarantee public health care employees meal breaks and protect the personal information of sellers. In 2023, he authored the Ebony Alert that will help to bring home missing Black children and young women.

Most recently, Senator Bradford received the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) Lifetime Achievement Award. This award goes to legislators whose work has distinguished themselves, and whose contributions create lasting positive effects on the African-American community and nation, as well as add value to the NBCSL organization.

Senator Bradford grew up in Gardena, where he resides to this day. In addition to his public services commitment in the 35the Senate District he continues to be directly engaged in programs he began as a member of the Gardena City Council – the Junior Golf program and the Gardena Jazz Festival, for which he serves as the Founder and Chair.

Senator Bradford is a graduate of California State University, Dominguez Hills. He currently serves on the board of the Mervyn M. Dymally African American Political and Economic Institute, a non-partisan public policy think tank. He is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity.

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