Meet Erika Feresten

The Pacific Palisades Democratic Club President Was Recently Re-elected to Represent California’s 50th Assembly District as Delegate to Democratic Party

Public figure and President of the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club Erika Feresten was re-elected to represent California’s 50th Assembly District as a delegate to the Democratic Party

in an election held January 27 at Santa Monica College.

The 50th Assembly District stretches from Agoura Hills through Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood and Beverly Hills to West Hollywood, and is represented by Assemblymember Richard Bloom.

Feresten won key endorsements from Congressman Ted Lieu, Councilmember Mike Bonin and LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

Feresten first ran for office as a delegate in 2016. She was elected that year, in 2017 and in 2018. She is also the founder of Champion for Leaders, a political leadership training program with a client roster that includes members of the United States House of Representatives, political candidates and Fortune 500 executives.

“I wanted to run to ensure our party takes action turning platform policy into legislation that serves the common good,” Feresten said in a recent interview with the Palisadian-Post. “One of the reasons I ran for reelection is that I believe the Democratic Party has the most progressive platform in the country, and I wanted to be a voice for democratic principles.

“It’s more imperative than ever that we stand strong in our values and be active, aware, educated and engaged citizens.”

Fereseten has been president of the Democratic Club and an assembly delegate since 2017, and has actively advocated for quality public education, a ban on fracking, affordable housing, campaign finance reform, criminal justice reform, protecting immigrant rights, ending homelessness and poverty, and healthcare for all.

Her political career began as a phone banker for John Kerry’s campaign after George W. Bush’s reelection.

“I saw on the news they had a phone bank for John Kerry at the Union office, so I just showed up,” Feresten said. “The Iraq War was going on. I was making my own picket signs, and getting involved with local marches and rallies.”

Feresten had her first child in 2008, and that same year hosted a fundraiser for Barack Obama at her Brentwood home, organizing a handmade jewelry sale and donating the proceeds to the Obama campaign. Two years later, she took another break from politics when she had her second child.

During that time, a friend of Feresten’s hosted a fundraiser for Emerge California, a program that trains pro-choice democratic women to run for office in California. Past alumni of the program include San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon, San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott and San Francisco Mayor London Breed. Feresten applied and was accepted for the seven-month program, graduating in 2015.

Members of the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club

Soon after, Feresten joined the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club as a recording secretary. By 2017, she was elected president.

As president, she has brought an action-oriented approach to the club, organizing panel discussions, movie screenings, a speaker series, and public outreach events like beach clean-ups and public education seminars. Feresten even organized bus transportation downtown for Palisadians to attend the March for Our Lives rally last year.

The first thing Feresten has taken on as assembly delegate is rallying California Governor Gavin Newsom to approve safety testing of Diablo Nuclear Unit I at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in Avila Beach while it is shut down for refueling, and make the results publicly known.

“The testing can only be done before the unit is refueled,” Feresten said. “Therefore, we have only days to accomplish this goal.”

In 2005, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Warned Diablo Nuclear Unit I was among the most embrittled reactors in the U.S. The safety testing Feresten advocates would inspect for embrittlement, cracking, waste management and seismic stability.

“Because of PG&E’s current bankruptcy and criminal proceedings, it gives the governor wide-ranging powers to act,” Feresten said. “A Fukushima-like meltdown would cause a mass migration out of California, and because coastal winds always blow inland, Diablo’s radioactive clouds would irradiate and poison the fruits and vegetables that flourish in our fantastic Central Valley.

“Diablo’s radioactive clouds would also contaminate the drinking water that flows from the Sierra Mountains, through the Central Valley, and into cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles. If there is a meltdown at Diablo, much of California and its economy would be gone.”

Feresten is petitioning the governor to conduct the safety tests. Some of those who have signed her petition include State Senator Ben Allen, Lance Simmens and Pamela Conley Ulich.

The Los Angeles County Democratic Party passed an Emergency Resolution the night of Tuesday, February 12, calling that refueling of Diablo Nuclear Unit I be contingent upon “subjecting the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant to a wide range of independent inspections.”

“The Democratic Party is a big umbrella, but I want to focus on all the values we have in common,” Feresten said. “I want to focus on issues that unite us, like gun control and protecting the environment.

“I’m very excited by all the democrats in the field this year. I’m honored to be able to run for public office, to stand up for our values and represent people of all backgrounds who want to keep our democracy strong.”

The next Democratic Club speaker series event will take place 6 p.m. on March 26 at Palisades Branch Library, with a close look at how the opioid epidemic is affecting the city.

For more information, visit palisadesdemclub.com.