Gay Lynwood councilmember Solache confirms CA Assembly bid

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Thursday February 2, 2023
Share this Post:
Lynwood City Councilmember José Luis Solache has announced he's running for an open state Assembly seat in next year's primary. Photo: Courtesy Facebook
Lynwood City Councilmember José Luis Solache has announced he's running for an open state Assembly seat in next year's primary. Photo: Courtesy Facebook

Joining the growing ranks of LGBTQ candidates seeking California legislative seats next year is gay Lynwood City Councilmember José Luis Solache. He officially launched his expected bid for a state Assembly seat Thursday with a slew of endorsements from Democratic officials in Southern California.

Solache, 42, is running for the open Assembly District 62 seat being vacated in 2024 by termed out Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood). First elected to the Lynwood City Council in 2013, Solache has served several terms as mayor of the Los Angeles County city.

Rendon's district includes all or part of the cities of Bellflower, Huntington Park, Lakewood, Lynwood, Maywood, Paramount, South Gate, and Walnut Park. The largest city in it is Lakewood, where Solache works as president and CEO of the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce.

"Our Gateway Cities are the heart of Los Angeles County and the epicenter of the California dream. I am proud to be a son of Lynwood," stated Solache in announcing his campaign February 2. "I am running for state Assembly today because of the opportunities I found here, and because I want to strengthen those opportunities for future generations."

Should he be elected to the state Assembly, Solache listed support for schools, small businesses, health care providers, and community services as top priorities he would pursue as a state lawmaker.

"The working families, children, and retirees in our cities deserve a champion in the state Assembly, and I would be honored to work for them," stated Solache, whose election in 2003 to the Lynwood Unified School District board made him its youngest Latino member.

According to state campaign finance records, the only other person to pull papers for the race is Maywood City Councilmember Eduardo De La Riva. He is listed as being an independent and has reported raising little money to date.

In 2019, Solache came up short in his bid for the state Senate seat that Ricardo Lara had vacated after becoming the first gay statewide elected leader in California with his winning his race for insurance commissioner the year prior. Solache garnered little support from LGBTQ leaders and groups in that race, with most endorsing Lara's choice for his successor, Lena Gonzalez, who won the race and at the time was a member of the Long Beach City Council.

Equality California, the statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization, had dual endorsed Solache and Gonzalez in the special election. Gay freshman Assemblymember Rich Chavez Zbur (D-West Hollywood), who had been EQCA's executive director at the time, is now among Solache's early endorsers of his Assembly bid.

Three of Solache's colleagues on the Lynwood council and three of the city's former councilmembers who had served as mayor have also endorsed him in the race. Several other current state Assembly members also are on his list of endorsers, as is former state Senator Ben Hueso.

Four years ago Solache had proved to be a successful fundraiser and again has shown to be adept at raising money. He had opened a fundraising committee for the Assembly seat last year, thus signaling his intention to make another stab at serving in the Legislature, and now has $200,000 in cash on hand.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in its coverage of his Senate bid, Solache grew up in Lynwood in a one-bedroom apartment with his sibling, parents, uncle, and grandmother. The four adults had all immigrated to the U.S. from Leon, a city in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. His mother worked for the cosmetics company Avon and his father was a blue-collar factory worker.

Solache graduated from California State University, Dominguez Hills with a bachelor's degree in liberal studies and earned his master's at the University of Southern California. He served as president of his campus' student body and chair of the California State Student Association while at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

He came out publicly during his 2011 school board race. Solache credited the training he received from the LGBTQ Victory Fund for preparing him to run as an out candidate.

Fourth out candidate so far

He is the fourth out LGBTQ non-incumbent candidate to launch a 2024 legislative race in the Golden State. Last month, gay veteran Joseph C. Rocha, 36, of Escondido entered the race to succeed Assemblymember Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego), who will be termed out of his 76th Assembly District seat next year.

In December, lesbian Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona) announced her candidacy to succeed Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside), who will be termed out of his 31st Senate District seat next year. Roth endorsed Cervantes, 35, in what is expected to be a competitive race for the open seat.

Running to succeed Cervantes is her younger sister, Clarissa, who also launched her candidacy in December for the Assembly District 58 seat. Clarissa Cervantes, 32, who uses she and they pronouns, identifies as bisexual and queer.

Should the sisters win their races, it would mark the first time an LGBTQ California legislator has been succeeded by their out sibling. They would also be the first pair of LGBTQ siblings to serve together in Sacramento.

The primaries for state legislative races will be on the March 5, 2024 primary ballot, as the election is being held early due to it being a presidential election year. Under California's top-two primary system, the quartet of out candidates will need to place either first or second in their respective Southern California contests in order to advance to the November 5 general election that fall.

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.