Steven Bradford brings a lifetime of experience to the California State Senate. 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 has proven himself to be an unwavering citizen activist. He views himself as a public servant and not a politician. Public service was instilled in him by his parents who taught him the value of giving back to the community.
Prior to his service in local and state government, Bradford was a Public Affairs Manager for Southern California Edison, District Director for the late Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald, Program Director for the LA Conservation Corps, National Director of Bigger and Better Business for Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and worked for seven years as a marketing and sales representative for International Business Machines Corporation (IBM).
He made history when he became the first African American elected to the Gardena City Council. Over the 12 years that he served on city council, he helped create robust job and economic growth, and stabilized the city’s budget. When he was elected to the Council, the City of Gardena was on the brink of bankruptcy and was $27 million in debt. There was no money in the bank and employees had not been given raises in over seven years. 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. He also authored and championed ordinances, which established the City’s Small Business Task Force and the City’s Police Foundation. As a former solid waste director, he brought those skills to bear, helping negotiate some of the lowest trash rates in the county. In addition, he served as Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Gardena for one year.
Bradford was elected to the 51st State Assembly District in a Special Election in 2009, reelected in 2010, and reelected again in 2012, but the second time around, to the newly created 62nd District. While serving in the Assembly, he rose to prominence by becoming Chair of the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce, which had jurisdiction over electricity, natural gas, telecommunications, private water corporations and other issues related to commerce. In his role as Chair, he garnered national attention by presiding over hearings investigating the devastating power outages across California. He also created a $108 million program to assist low-income households install solar panels at home, increasing equity and the deployment of distributed clean energy resources.
In 2013, Assembly Speaker John Perez named Bradford Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color. Under his leadership, the committee examined many institutional injustices that plague young Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander males in California, which he continues to work on in the Senate. As a result of his efforts, Bradford was invited to the White House to attend President Barack Obama’s announcement of “My Brother’s Keeper,” a national initiative that reduces the opportunity gap faced by boys and men of color, which builds upon the work of his Select Committee.
As a member of the Assembly, Bradford had 43 bills signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Governor Jerry Brown, including AB 1371 (Three Feet for Safety Act), AB 2188 (Disability Benefits), AB 2426 (Surrogacy Facilitators), AB 2567 (Vehicle Parking Violations), AB 651 (Expungement), AB 2634 (Civil Rights), AB 217 (Low-Income Solar), AB 128 (Reclassify LA World Airport Police), and the Jackie Robinson Assembly Resolution, HR 24.
In 2017, Senator Bradford was re-elected to the California State Legislature, and his first year in the Senate he was successful at getting 11 bills signed into law by Governor Brown. These laws improved public safety, transportation infrastructure, our worker’s compensation system, the state’s climate goals, and public education. In addition to the legislative accomplishments, Bradford secured $11.3 million in the state budget for Compton Community College and helped secure a $35 million grant to Watts Rising for affordable housing, green space, and local workforce development. He previously served as Chair of the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee and Chair of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. He currently chairs the Senate Committee on Public Safety.
In 2018, Senator Bradford had an additional 11 bills signed into law, including SB 1294: The California Cannabis Equity Act, a first-in-the-nation bill which encouraged equitable participation in the cannabis industry and fostered business opportunities for individuals who have been negatively impacted by the War on Drugs; SB 978, which increases law enforcement transparency and accountability; SB 1412, which expanded employment opportunities for rehabilitated individuals; and SB 343, which provided critical tax relief for relocated residents in Carson. Senator Bradford also instrumental in a handful of bills he co-authored that are now state law, including AB 987, which helped streamline the Inglewood Revitalization Project and Los Angeles Clippers Arena. In addition, Senator Bradford secured $5 million in funding for community college reentry programs for current and formerly incarcerated students and $10 million for local cities and counties with social equity programs to support individuals, who were most impacted by cannabis criminalization, enter the burgeoning cannabis industry.
In 2019, Senator Bradford was successful at getting 10 bills signed into law by Governor Newsom. The legislation covers a wide range of subject areas including: SB 595, which addresses the lack of inclusivity and equity within the cannabis industry by providing social equity applicants with application or licensing fee waivers and deferrals; SB 534, which created greater diversity within the insurance industry; and SB 206, a first-in-the-nation bill which allows college athletes who generate billions of dollars for corporate sponsors and their universities to also benefit from their skills and talents. After several states introduced bills modeled after SB 206, the NCAA supported rule changes allowing its student-athletes to be paid for the use of their name, image, and likeness. 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; and as a longstanding leader on energy, utilities and communications issues, three of his bills in these areas were signed into law. In addition, Senator Bradford was successful at securing over $40 million in critical funding for the support of cannabis equity programs, increasing support and services at Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, and improving innovative rehabilitation programs at CDCR facilities.
In 2020, Senator Bradford was appointed Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety and elected by his peers to become Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC). Due to COVID-19, the Senator consolidated his legislative package to focus on measures that addressed the pandemic, the state’s economic recovery, and other urgent issues. All in all, the Governor signed 6 of his bills into law: AB 3088, which he joint authored to protect struggling tenants and small landlords by providing eviction relief and foreclosure protection; SB 1447 created a new $100 million small business hiring tax credit program; SB 1157, a first-in-the-nation requirement that allows tenants the option of reporting their rental payments and build credit; SB 203, which requires children to consult with legal counsel prior to interrogation and before waiving their Miranda rights; SB 1244 increases cannabis testing to make certain that it is safe for consumers and complies with regulations; and SB 1192, which creates important consumer protections for members of police, peace officer, and firefighter benefit associations. In addition, Senator Bradford secured $30 million for local implementation and the expansion of cannabis equity programs serving individuals most harmed by cannabis prohibition. He also continued his support for the important education provided by Charles R. Drew University with a $7.5 million allocated in the budget for student services and academic facility upgrades.
In 2021, Senator Bradford continued his work as Chair of the Public Safety Committee and CLBC. Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins appointed Senator Bradford as a member to California’s Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans. California became the first state government in the country to establish a task force for this purpose. Despite the difficulties of the continuing pandemic, 7 of Senator Bradford’s bills were signed by Governor Newsom, including: SB 2, arguably the biggest police reform bill California has seen in the last decade, creates the first statewide process in the state to decertify police officers who abuse the public trust and commit serious acts of misconduct; SB 796, which authorizes the County of L.A. to return the stolen property known as Bruce’s Beach back to the descendants of the Bruce family; SB 26 the Fair Pay to Play Act 2.0, moves up the implementation date of SB 206 and allows athletes to earn money from their athletic reputation; SB 567, which revises current criminal sentencing procedures to correct 14 years of injustice; SB 655, which expands the Supplier Diversity Survey and Governing Board Survey to more companies and requires stronger diversity goals; SB 694, a bill that requires electrical utilities to report a detailed summary of their workforce development efforts; and SB 586, which makes clarifying and supporting changes to SB 2. Through his efforts, Senator Bradford secured more than $140 million in direct, equitable investments for Senate District 35 in 2021.
In his free time, you will often find him on the golf course or attending jazz events. He started a Junior Golf program while on the city council and his favorite community event is the Gardena Jazz Festival, where he serves as the Founder and Chair. The festival has been celebrated for 16 years and is one of the most popular events in the South Bay. Bradford grew up in Gardena, where he resides to this day. He coached football and baseball for sixteen years in Gardena’s Parks and Recreation League and attended San Diego State University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at 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.