Malia Vella, vice mayor of Alameda, was born and raised in the district, and earned a law degree, with a certificate in public interest and social justice, at Santa Clara University. Vella spent her early career in politics as a district staff member for State Senator Ellen Corbett and Assemblymember Rob Bonta before serving as district director for Assemblymember Bill Quirk. She is the only candidate in this race who has spent time as a legislative staff member. In 2016, she was elected as the highest vote earner and first Filipina to the Alameda City Council, where she currently serves as vice mayor. As a member of the city council, she was actively involved in Alameda Municipal Power’s transition to 100% clean energy in 2020, voted to raise the minimum wage, and has helped coordinate homeless support programs. In addition to her elected role on the city council, Vella is an attorney for Teamsters Local 856, an adjunct professor at Mills College, primarily teaching ethical policy and economics, and an elected delegate and executive board member to the California Democratic Party for the district. She is also an active community member, using her background and knowledge to lend her leadership to Spectrum Community Services, Alameda County Healthy Homes/Lead Abatement Joint Powers Authority, League of California Cities Housing and Economic Development Committee, and a variety of statewide democratic organizations.
Vella’s platform is indicative of her layered background and policy knowledge and focuses on an equitable COVID-19 economic recovery that includes systemic housing reform, addressing homelessness, education, and social services investment, and accessible health care for all. She also maintains a notable approach to reimagining public safety that includes transitioning mental-health crises away from law enforcement, mandating de-escalation training, and creating more racial equity in the system. In her role on the city council, she has actively supported the general unbundling of police services to create more equity and accountability in the system. Her public, professional, and local engagement is the root of her network of relationships in the community, and she would leverage those connections in pursuing new statewide legislation to create a wealth tax, provide single-payer health care, and create affordable housing and community land trusts. Malia Vella has raised $180,000, with over half of those donations coming from trade unions. She has pledged to refuse fossil fuel and police money in her campaign. She has been endorsed by many progressive organizations and leaders, including SEIU California, a variety of other trade and labor unions, Oakland Rising Action, Bay Rising Action, Working Hero Action, the California State Legislative Women’s Caucus, State Controller Betty Yee, Assemblymember Alex Lee, Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, and AC Transit Board Member Jovanka Beckles.