A life-long resident of Los Angeles, Mark Ridley-Thomas, also known as MRT, is widely regarded as one of the region’s most creative, effective and progressive voices for change in Los Angeles.
Over the course of his career, he has been at the forefront of addressing the region’s most pressing issues. These include: access to healthcare, the housing crisis, criminal justice system reform and creating economic opportunities for local residents – issues he has tackled as a City Councilman, State Legislator and, most recently, as a three-term Los Angeles County Supervisor.
Notably, MRT has been a tireless advocate in the effort to end homelessness – the moral crisis of our times — leading the fight to pass Measure H, the ballot initiative approved by voters in March 2017 that will raise $3.5 billion for homeless services over 10 years.
Appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to the statewide task force on homelessness, MRT is dedicated to seeking bold policy changes that will not only provide shelter for the thousands of people sleeping on our streets, but that will also blunt the forces of gentrification fueling the inflow of people onto the streets of Los Angeles.
A thoughtful public policy maker, MRT has secured more than $1 billion in County resources into the 10th District. This funding has been used to extend Metro transit lines, build affordable housing, develop and beautify parks and plant trees.
Attuned to environmental challenges at both the policy and grassroots level, MRT supported the County’s ban on single-use plastic bags, developed LEED certified buildings throughout the second district and also beautified, revitalized and developed hundreds of acres of parks, trails and recreational spaces.
Guided by his belief in the dignity of all people MRT unites forceful advocacy with the necessary executive abilities to create systemic change. No matter how difficult the challenge, he gets things done.
He brought civilian oversight to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, pushed to have Sheriff’s deputies wear body cameras and championed reform of the County’s child welfare system.
One of MRT’s most challenging and rewarding endeavors was to fulfill a campaign promise to build the new Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital to replace the now-defunct King/Drew hospital. By all accounts, the new hospital now ranks as one of the best hospitals in Los Angeles County, lauded for its high tech and high-touch approach that combines cutting edge hardware with compassionate patient care.
Prior to serving on the Board of Supervisors, where he is completing his third term, MRT represented the 26th District in the California State Senate. As then-chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, he led the Caucus in unprecedented levels of cooperation and collaboration with counterparts in the Latino and Asian-Pacific Islander Legislative Caucuses. He has continued to reach out to all the communities of Los Angeles to address issues of public safety and constitutional policing, immigration, economic opportunity and civic participation for all.
He is widely acknowledged as the foremost advocate of neighborhood participation in government decision-making by founding the Empowerment Congress, the region’s most successful initiative in neighborhood-based civic engagement and forerunner of the city’s neighborhood council system.
MRT’s political career was preceded by a decade of service as the executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles (1981-1991).
A resident of the 10th District for 26 years, MRT lives in Leimert Park neighborhood with his wife of 40 years, Avis, co-founder and director of the Institute for Non-Violence in Los Angeles. They have two sons, Sebastian and Sinclair, and one grandson, Duke Flynn Ridley-Thomas, who awaits the arrival of his baby sister any day now.