By Courage California
Courage California (formerly Courage Campaign) believes that California must be a beacon of progressive, equitable, and truly representative democracy. As the 5th largest economy in the world -- and the United States' largest and most diverse state -- California is uniquely positioned to serve as a model for the country.
We must prove that democracy in the US can still solve the thorniest problems facing our state, our nation, and the world, while also serving ALL of our people -- regardless of race, gender, or economic status. To do so, Californians must have the information and infrastructure they need to hold elected officials accountable when they are not working for the public’s benefit, instead prioritizing corporate lobbyists and campaign contributors.
Courage California, driven by our 1.4 million members, helps our great state reach its potential by calling out institutional corruption and oppression, improving coordination and collaboration between progressive organizations, and demanding that our state and local representatives be both accountable to and reflective of the Californians they seek to serve.
16th Congressional District
Esmeralda Soria was born and raised in the central San Joaquin Valley, the daughter of Mexican immigrant farmworkers. She continues to live in the Valley, where she currently represents Council District 1 on the Fresno City Council. According to campaign materials, Councilmember Soria is running to represent CD 16 because she believes it's time for new leadership that will make Congress work for Central Valley families -- not corporations and powerful special interests.
Councilmember Soria was elected to the Fresno City Council in 2014 and became the first Latina in the history of the City of Fresno to be elected as Council President in 2018. During her tenure, Councilmember Soria focused on creating opportunities and improving the quality of life for Fresno's families. She helped create thousands of jobs, expanded Fresno City College campuses in the city's two most low-income neighborhoods, and brought the first universally accessible park to the Central California region.
She has been a notable positive influence in other areas as well, including housing and homelessness, where she has worked with community members and developers to bring hundreds of new housing units to Fresno. At the same time, some constituents have raised thoughtful concerns over those votes, viewing them as too friendly to local developers.
Soria has proclaimed to be "unapologetically progressive," but her opposition has suggested otherwise pointing to her "business friendly" votes, and lack of support for Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. While she supports the major principles of both and acknowledges the need for progressive healthcare and environmental policies, she believes alternative solutions would better serve Californians.
In 2019, Councilmember Soria was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to serve on California's newly created Homeless and Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force where she is one of six elected officials overseeing California's new $1 billion budget to solve homelessness in California. Councilmember Soria is also a professor at Fresno City College, and chair of the Redevelopment Agency and the Fresno Revitalization Corporation.
Councilmember Soria is challenging incumbent Representative Jim Costa (D), who has consistently opposed progressive priorities -- siding with corporate lobbyists and failing his constituents on immigration and the environment. In fact, Rep. Costa is the fifth most Trump-friendly Democrat in all of Congress according to FiveThirtyEight.com's analysis of his voting record, supporting Trump's priorities far more often than his constituents. He is also known for having co-authored Costa-Hawkins, the state rent control ban from the 1990s that has exacerbated CA's affordable housing crisis.
Other candidates in this race include Kevin Cookingham (R), and Kimberley Elizabeth Williams (D). While Williams is more ideologically aligned with Courage California given her clear unequivocal support for Medicare-for-All and the Green New Deal, polling data shows there is no path for her to make the top-two in the March 2020 primary. Councilmember Soria is the only strong, viable Democratic challenger who can unseat Rep. Costa in this election cycle. Based on extensive conversations with local grassroots activists and organizations such as Dolores Huerta, Communities for a New California Action Fund, the Central Valley Progressive PAC, and Valley Forward, we believe Councilmember Soria is noteworthy in a crowded field as the strongest choice for progressive support. Her track record as a champion for Central Valley families and as an advocate for her region's priorities in California's gubernatorial administration is very strong.
Voting for Councilmember Soria is an opportunity to elect a legislator who will dramatically improve the representation of her district in Congress. Courage California strongly endorses Councilmember Soria for Congress.
Last updated: 2020-02-25
State Assembly, 9th District
Tracie Stafford is a 53 year old resident of Elk Grove, born to a single mother and orphaned at the age of 12 along with her 4 siblings. She is the first in her family to earn a college degree. According to Stafford, she is running to end corporate-dominated politics and to give a voice to the unheard, under-served and disenfranchised.
Stafford is a community leader, an elected assembly district delegate, and was appointed by the governor as Chair of the city of Sacramento’s small business board. Stafford supports legislation that closes the gender and racial wage gap while ensuring that women, the LGBTQ+ community and people of color are provided with equal opportunities in the workplace. She will work closely with labor to ensure that workers are being treated justly and with dignity regarding pay, benefits, and access to promotions.
Stafford’s commitment to justice and equity is fueled by her personal experiences with poverty, discrimination, child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence. She plans to advocate to preserve confidential, unrestricted access to affordable, high quality, culturally sensitive health care services, including the full range of reproductive services, contraception and abortion, without requiring guardian, judicial, parental, or spousal consent or notification.
Stafford brings a strong track record and deep relationships in progressive politics and public service. Among many other roles and affiliations, Stafford has served as President of the Women Democrats of Sacramento County, as Political Action Chair for the Sacramento NAACP, and as a founder of Indivisible Women of California.
Stafford is challenging incumbent Jim Cooper (D), who has consistently opposed progressive priorities by siding with corporate lobbyists and failing his constituents on many issues include the environment and worker protections. Other candidates include Mushtaq Tahirkheli (D), and Eric Rigard (R). Stafford is the strongest choice in a crowded field because of her track record as a progressive champion for the underserved and disenfranchised, and as an advocate for her region’s priorities in the Democratic Party.
Voting for Stafford is an opportunity to elect a legislator who will accurately represent the perspective and priorities of her district in Congress. Courage California strongly endorses Tracie Stafford for State Assembly.
Last updated: 2020-02-25
State Senator, 7th District
Marisol Rubio is a second-generation American, raised by a single mother who was a public school teacher. She now lives in San Ramon with her daughter. According to campaign materials, Rubio is running to fight for accountability from our legislature, and to demand that our biggest and wealthiest corporations pay their fair share so we can provide the support blue-collar, working people of California deserve.
Rubio is a scientific researcher, health care provider, and advocate for high-need students. Her passion for science and discovery was fueled by her personal experiences as a young single mother of a chronically-ill disabled daughter who is an early childhood brain cancer survivor. As she explored solutions to support her own daughter’s health and wellbeing, Rubio came to understand how we can best support families experiencing hardships through the advancement of innovative and proven healthcare, educational, and socioeconomic policies.
Rubio also brings a strong track record and relationships in progressive politics and public service. As Co-Chair of the Democratic Party of Contra Costa County Issues Committee, Rubio has co-authored two resolutions that were adopted by the California Democratic Party and helped pass several progressive bills and resolutions including the Green New Deal for California, a call for a Climate focused Presidential Debate, and support for the public banking movement, which gives localities the ability to open banks to serve residents not well served by traditional banks. She has also served as an elected delegate to the Democratic National Convention and is an SEIU Local 2015 member.
Rubio is challenging incumbent Steve Glazer (D), who has consistently opposed progressive priorities by siding with corporate lobbyists and failing his constituents on criminal and juvenile justice reform and healthcare. Other candidates include Julie Mobley (R). Rubio is the strongest choice because of her track record as a champion for the disabled community and their caretakers, and as an advocate for her region’s priorities in the Democratic Party.
Voting for Rubio is an opportunity to elect a legislator who will accurately represent the perspective and priorities of her district in Congress. Courage California strongly endorses Marisol Rubio for Congress.
Last updated: 2020-02-25
Board of Supervisor Races
Los Angeles County
State Senator Holly Mitchell is a third-generation Angeleno and continues to live in Los Angeles, where she serves as a State Senator for California's 30th Senate District. According to campaign materials, Mitchell is running to represent District 2 on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in order to meet the real needs of local communities in Los Angeles County -- the largest county in the nation, with over 10 million residents.
Senator Mitchell was elected to the state Assembly in 2010 and moved to the Senate in 2013. She is currently serving her final term as a State Senator, where she serves as Chair of the Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. During her tenure, Senator Mitchell proposed a set of criminal justice reforms that were signed into law. Together, these 10 laws reduce barriers for Californias impacted by the criminal justice system by reducing sentence enhancements for low-level drugs, removing court fees for the innocent, sealing arrest records for people not convicted, ending the sentencing of juveniles to life without parole, and other advancements. She has been a notable progressive influence in other areas as well, including homelessness, mental health, children’s rights, and job protections.
In office, Senator Mitchell has scored an overall 98 out of 100 on Courage Score, our annual analysis of a legislator's progressive voting record. Based on our Courage Score analysis, Senator Mitchell has consistently shown great courage advocating for the needs of constituents and facing down corporate lobbyists and interest groups that exploit Californians. Most recently, Senator Mitchell has taken a stand on a problematic statewide housing bill, working with a coalition representing low-income communities to demand stronger protections for low-income people, people of color, and other vulnerable people most strongly affected by the housing crisis.
Senator Mitchell is running against Herb Wesson, president of the Los Angeles City Council, and Jan Perry, a former council member who once ran for mayor. Other candidates include Jorge Nuño, Albert Robles, Rene Rigard, and Jake Jeong. In a crowded field, Senator Mitchell is the best progressive choice because of her track record as a champion for underrepresented and marginalized communities in California and her reputation as an unapologetically progressive legislator.
Voting for Senator Mitchell is an opportunity to elect a transformational leader as supervisor, one who will courageously represent the perspective and priorities of her district in LA County. One day she would make an excellent candidate for Governor of California. Courage California strongly endorses Senator Mitchell for Supervisor.
Last updated: 2020-04-15
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