Although Assemblyman Rob Bonta has not yet been confirmed as the state’s next attorney general, already five people have announced their intention to run for his Assembly seat — including his wife, Mia Bonta.
The seat for Assembly District 18 is not open until Rob Bonta officially resigns and takes up his new position. The district has about 500,000 residents and includes Alameda, San Leandro and much of Oakland.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last month he will appoint the East Bay Assemblyman to the state’s top law enforcement job, which became open after President Biden nominated California’s previous attorney general, Xavier Becerra, to be secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Newsom is expected to declare a special election to fill Bonta’s Assembly seat; a date for the election has not been announced.
Mia Bonta, president of the Alameda Unified School District Board and CEO of Oakland Promise, a nonprofit that helps Oakland students get into college, announced her candidacy Monday to run in the special election for Assembly District 18.
“I’m running on behalf of East Bay children and working families to push open California’s door of opportunity for communities that have for too long been locked out,” she said in a statement announcing her candidacy. “The pandemic has further exacerbated systemic inequalities, while exposing once again the precariousness of so many people’s livelihoods. I am ready to go to Sacramento to fight for our East Bay communities and ensure Californians of all backgrounds get a fair shot.”
Other candidates that have already announced their intention to run are Alameda City Council member Malia Vella, San Leandro Unified School District board trustee James Aguilar and social justice attorney Janani Ramachandran. San Leandro Vice Mayor Victor Aguilar Jr. said he plans on officially announcing his candidacy next week.
Vella, an attorney and adjunct professor at Mills College in Oakland, was the first Filipina elected to her city council in 2016; she was re-elected in 2020. According to her campaign website, Vella “has the experience and steady leadership we need in the state Assembly.”
Vella and another council member were accused of violating Alameda’s city charter by putting political pressure on the city manager while she was hiring a fire chief in 2017. An Alameda County civil grand jury came out in 2019 criticizing her on the issue; Vella denied any wrongdoing.
James Aguilar, an Oakland native and current student at San Francisco State, is the youngest trustee to be elected to the San Leandro School board. At the age of 21, he’s the youngest Bay Area elected official. According to his campaign website, he states “It’s time for young, balanced voice in the California State Assembly.” His listed priorities include access to higher education, the climate crisis, public transportation and housing, among others.
Victor Aguilar Jr., of no relation to James Aguilar, also confirmed he is running for the Assembly seat. He was first elected in 2018 to the San Leandro City Council and also is an elected member of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee.
“I have dedicated my life to serving those most in need in my community. I am running for the Assembly to fight for health care, housing and justice for all,” Victor Aguilar said in a statement.
If elected, Ramachandran would be the first South Asian Assemblywoman; she is an East Bay native and the daughter of immigrants from a south Indian village. She has worked with immigrant mothers experiencing domestic violence and homelessness, on tenants’ rights, and most recently, as an attorney at Family Violence Appellate Project.
“Janani is running for state Assembly because the time for timid ideas is over. We need bold solutions and leaders with the courage to fight for them,” her website reads.
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Author: Angela Ruggiero
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