My name is Sherri "Onica" Valle Cole
I've endured challenges from experiencing poverty and homelessness as a child to being a survivor of sexual assault and domestic violence, from coping with MS to dealing with mental health issues (depression), and yet I have come out on the other side as a determined and confident woman - ready to lead the City of Los Angeles through its most challenging and changing times.
My life's experiences created the foundation of my empathy and perseverance and are my “why” behind my focus priorities in office. Diversity. Equity. Inclusion. They're more than just words to me, they're at the core of who I am. I'm here for you and determined to meet you in the middle.
Now is the time for action, and here's how I plan to get it done.
Daughter of an Interracial Couple
I was born in San Diego to an African American man and an undocumented Mexican woman. My father's dream was to be a doctor and provide medical care to the poor. While he was attending Medical School, he was determined to give me and my 3 siblings a good life. My parents decided that while he was away in school, we needed to live in a place that was safe and affordable. So I and my 3 siblings were raised in Tijuana, Mexico. My mother was our primary caretaker. Every morning at 4 a.m. my mother would drive us across the border to attend school from Elementary to Clairemont High School. My dad established "Dr. Cole's Medical Clinic" in a low-income neighborhood of San Diego, where I assumed the role of bookkeeper at the age of 7. I did not only learn the value of helping family early in my life, I also learned the skills of improving our economic wellbeing. This is part of the foundation of why Small Business and Economic Development is an office priority to me.
Passion for Law
After I graduated from High School as the Valedictorian and voted "Most Likely To Succeed", my father wanted me to attend Medical School. So I went to Yale University, where my major was Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. While in medical school at U.C. San Diego, I became more enamored with Perry Mason than Dr. Kildare. So I made the independent decision to attend Law School. I went to Loyola Law School on a full scholarship. To help with income, I worked as a substitute teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). I have worked in both public and private sector since I graduated and passed the Bar in 1998.
Sharp Lens on Public Safety
With my experience of being a Criminal Prosecutor in LA and on top of that being the wife of Brent Honore, a (now retired, 33 year veteran) police officer of LAPD, I developed a sharp lens on public safety and on how race and poverty are criminalized in the current justice system. As a Criminal Prosecutor I walked the halls of the county courthouses on a regular basis and I've negotiated hundreds of cases with bench officers and defense counsel. My trial experience as a Criminal Prosecutor has included cases that involved domestic violence, animal cruelty, assault with a deadly weapon, battery on a police officer, resisting arrest, possession of a concealed weapon, brandishing a deadly weapon, prostitution, narcotic offenses, hit and run offenses and other serious criminal offenses. Seeing the complex problems that LA faces first hand, made me put Criminal Justice Reform and Police Accountability high on my priority list.
Importance of Mental Health
Brent and I have two children together, Merit, 11, and Leonicio, 7. After years of seeing signs but not being able to pinpoint what's really going on, Leonicio was finally diagnosed with Autism in December of 2016. This was a life-changing event for me and my entire family with not only a relief of finally knowing what's going on and learning how to cope with it, but also with fear: what if my son, who society identifies as Black, ends up in a situation where the police misunderstands his behavior? Therefore I've become a strong advocate for children with special needs. Knowledge of mental health is on my top priority list. Besides being the mom of a son with Autism, I have been through the tragic loss of my brother who committed suicide in '99. The fact that depression is real is also what I've experienced myself. I've struggled with it for quite a while before my doctors found out that it was a symptom of something bigger: I was diagnosed with MS in 2019. This was a blessing in disguise to me, because it made me realize how important it is to stay focused on my mental health and overall wellbeing. All of these experiences combined make me who I am today: an ambitious and understanding woman who is determined to have a focus on Mental Health when she runs the office. Mental health issues are skyrocketing, even more since the pandemic. Homelessness is increasing by the day.
Defend the Defenseless
Growing up as a child from an undocumented Mexican mother, I saw in my environment how easy it is for immigrants to fall for scams. Those who are in the country illegally are especially vulnerable because they may be afraid to report wrongdoing, making it in some ways the perfect crime. From 2009 through 2017, I was assigned to a vertical prosecution unit which focused on Consumer crimes. As a Consumer Fraud Prosecutor, I protected the public by prosecuting incompetent and/or unlicensed immigrant consultants, dangerous medical doctors, sale of untested and unapproved food and drugs, unlicensed practice of law by those who take advantage of low-income immigrants, would-be real estate brokers and much more. My heart is at helping people who are most defenseless. Therefore Consumer and Environmental Justice is also one of my priorities in office. Find out more about my plans here.