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This LADWP news archive photo shows former Commissioner Cynthia Ruiz being sworn in just one year ago. 

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Board of Commissioners has lost its ONLY Native American member EVER.

Demand that L.A. Mayor Karen Bass replace Deposed Commissioner Cynthia Ruiz with another Native American Commissioner.

What's Happening?

Cynthia Ruiz, the first Native American appointed to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Board of Commissioners in June of 2022, was recently and unexpectedly removed from the Board with no reason given, despite serving for just one year out of what should usually be a five-year term.  

“I really thought I had longer here. The year went by so fast, and I feel that there is so much more work to be done. But what I am a little disappointed about is losing the Native voice,” Ruiz said, not mincing words, at the June 13 LADWP Board meeting where her removal was announced amid much praise for her contributions. “I’ve tried to be the Native voice…because we know that LADWP history has been sordid when it comes to the Tribes, especially the Tribes in Owens Valley. So, I’m disheartened over the fact that when I walk out the door today that voice will be gone—there will not be representation.” In the video per the link above, Ruiz’s reluctance and confusion about her removal from the Board is evident in her countenance. 

Furthermore, with Ruiz’s departure, the LADWP’s first all-female board in 122 years will be “dismantled,” she said, as her proposed replacement is a non-native man, George McGraw. And the Board will also lose some Latino representation because Ruiz, as her surname indicates, is part Latina. 

What Can I Do?

While Ruiz’s removal from the LADWP Board is a done deal, the public has an opportunity to try to convince Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass that Ruiz’s seat on the Board should be filled by another Native American, rather than the non-Native who has been nominated. Bass, who ran on a platform of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, needs to be reminded of the progress that was being made in changing the relationship between LADWP and the first people of the Owens Valley by having Native representation on the LADWP Board of Commissioners. 

Friends of the Inyo stands with the tribes of Los Angeles and Owens Valley, and is asking our supporters to write to Mayor Bass expressing their objection to Ms. Ruiz’s removal and encouraging the Mayor to consider another Native American for the position Ruiz is vacating—or being made to vacate. 

George McGraw’s confirmation is expected to go before Mayor Bass this Friday, June 23, so all letters and comments must be submitted by then. 

Please write to Mayor Bass by this Friday, June 23, demanding that she:

  1. Immediately withdraw the nomination of George McGraw, Council file #23-1200-S112; and
  2. Set up a consultation with local Tribal Leaders to discuss a new nomination of a Native person on the LADWP Board.

Use the following contact details provided by the Owens Valley Indian Water Commission

Honorable Mayor Karen Bass

Los Angeles City Hall, Room 303

200 N. Spring Street

Los Angeles, CA 90012

Email to:

Mayor: mayor.helpdesk@lacity.org


Chief of Staff: Chris.Thompson@lacity.org

Deputy Chief of Staff: Celine.Cordero@lacity.org

Deputy Mayor: Nancy.Sutley@lacity.org

Scheduler: mayor.scheduling@lacity.org


 Thank you for adding your voice to this important advocacy effort!


Friends of the Inyo
621 W Line St Suite 201  | Bishop, California 93514
(760) 873-6500 | info@friendsoftheinyo.org

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