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New Dem Enters Assembly Race

| News | November 14, 2019

A Democratic tech startup founder, actress and video game designer/developer has announced she is running for Assembly. A Saugus school district board member might soon join her.

Brandii Grace, 39, announced Nov. 5 on Facebook that she is running for the seat currently held by Christy Smith, who is running for Congress and has not resigned her seat. She wrote that she filed papers the day before. She joins Republicans Suzette Valladares and Lucie Volotzky in the race.

“This is me trying to step up and continue what Christy Smith is doing,” Grace said, alluding to her own behind-the-scenes political experience as a delegate in the state and local Democratic parties as well as her standing on the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council and her time working with the AFL-CIO to pass stronger federal-worker protections. She said she wants to emphasize education as Smith has, particularly for special-needs students.

Grace has no campaign website yet. She told the Gazette her priorities include improving air quality, ending medical price gouging, affordable housing and permanently shutting down the site of the 2015 Aliso Canyon gas leak. The leak, from an underground storage facility owned by the Southern California Gas Company, sent millions of tons of methane and ethane into the atmosphere.

On her LinkedIn page, Grace lists herself as: co-creator and co-founder of “Neil DeGrasse Tyson Presents: Space Odyssey,” a game designed for players to explore science and technology in the universe; a board chair of the Los Angeles chapter of the International Game Developers Association; and a consultant for Engaging Designs. She said she no longer is part of the “Space Odyssey” project.

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She also has an Internet Movie Database page that lists her as an actress in two films, including the 2009 Robin Williams-starring “World’s Greatest Dad,” as well as two credits for being on video game crews. And she teaches at the New York Film Academy in Burbank.

Saugus board member David Barlavi called Grace “terrific,” “fantastic” and “a very strong Democrat, a little bit left of Katie Hill and Christy Smith.”

Barlavi also is considering a run, saying on Facebook on Nov. 4 that he’s “still only 97% sure” he’s going to run. On Sunday, he reiterated that percentage hadn’t changed and that he would make a final decision by the end of the month.

“It’s not an easy decision,” he said. “I’ve got to see who else jumps in and evaluate them. I don’t want to step on the feet of someone that’s better than me. I like to win but I don’t like competing against our own.”

That didn’t stop Barlavi from posting on Grace’s Facebook page, “How do you expect to overcome Coach Dave’s incredible handsomeness?”

Grace, who said she recognized Barlavi’s humor, responded with a wink emoji and this comment: “By being super well informed with great policy ideas and empowering an amazing community of people!”

Barlavi then posted a picture of Homer Simpson saying, “D’oh!”

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About Lee Barnathan

Lee Barnathan has been a writer and editor since 1990. His articles have been published in newspapers, magazines and online. His new book "If You Experience Death, Please Call and Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language," a humorous look at the ways people misuse English, is available on Amazon or at his website, www.leebarnathan.com. He is hired by people all over the country to help them refine the message or story they wish to share with their target audience or demographic.

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