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Jewish Journal

Knox vs. Kuehl

Tough Choices in the 23rd District

by Wendy J. Madnick

March 2, 2000 | 7:00 pm

Voters frequently complain about being forced to choose between the lesser of two evils when it comes to candidates for public office. But what's a voter supposed to do when given the choice between two good, solid politicians of virtually equal records?

In the case of Assembly members Wally Knox and Sheila Kuehl, this is where the Jewish vote comes in. The two together already represent a substantial part of the Jewish population of Los Angeles, including Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, while their combined territory stretches across the southwestern Valley in a wide swath from Studio City to Thousand Oaks. Now in the upcoming March 7 primary, they will compete for the Democratic endorsement to run for Tom Hayden's State Senate seat representing the 23rd District -- another geographic area where Jewish voters can make or break a candidate.

Knowing this, both Knox and Kuehl have made frequent appearances and held several debates sponsored by organizations and synagogues, like the Jewish Home for the Aging and Valley Beth Shalom. Both candidates have garnered support from rabbis and Jewish leaders of every denominational stripe, with Knox slightly leading in those endorsements; both also take a special interest in issues near and dear to the Jewish heart, like the environment.

Kuehl, in her third term in the State Assembly, was the first woman in California history to be named speaker pro tempore of the legislature and currently holds the position of chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. She has authored 53 bills that have been signed into law covering such issues as overhauling the state's child-support issues; making HMOs legally accountable for denying treatment; prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender in the workplace and sexual orientation in education; and protecting the environment. One of her most recent projects involves the opposition of the massive Ahmanson Ranch real estate development in the West San Fernando Valley.

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