By Dan Ross
In a vote Monday, California State Senators decided against reappointing commissioner Wendy Mitchell to the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB), as first reported in the Los Angeles Times.
According to the Times, Mitchell was headed for confirmation early Monday afternoon, but after a period of extensive lobbying on the senate floor, she subsequently lost the vote on a 17-20 denial.
Mitchell has served on the CHRB since 2019 and has been principal of WM Consulting Inc. since 2006. Prior to her tenure on the CHRB, Mitchell served on the California Coastal Commission from 2011 to 2016 and the Los Angeles South Valley Area Planning Commission from 2009 to 2011.
The latest iteration of the board, which has undergone a drastic reshuffle in recent years, has been split on a number of controversial topics, including the issue of whether to grant Los Alamitos a truncated six-month license in response to recent scrutiny over its welfare record.
After an extended debate, the board granted the facility its typical 12-month operating license. Mitchell voted with commissioners Oscar Gonzalez and Brenda Washington Davis against issuing the facility a one-year license.
More recently, the panel was divided over the issue of whether to implement even tighter whip reforms than currently exist in California, with the board eventually voting 4-3 to table the motion for the time being.
Again, Mitchell voted with commissioners Gonzalez and Davis against tabling the motion.
In a statement, PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo wrote, “I've never had a conversation with Wendy Mitchell, nor has PETA ever contacted her directly, but it has become clear to us in the last several months that the California Horse Racing Board has failed to bring about the promised changes to protect horses. The board has reneged on the whipping ban, failed to suspend racing at Los Alamitos as promised–despite multiple deaths–and taken no action to boot crooked trainers from racing.”
Guillermo added: “The board and, apparently, the California legislature remain beholden to the old guard in racing that considers abuse and death to be normal business practices, rather than listening to the public that has demanded change. PETA won't sit by quietly while the body count mounts. Legislators can expect to hear from our 700,000 supporters in the state.”
According to the Times, Mitchell's case will be reconsidered and another vote taken at a time yet to be determined.