21st Assembly District

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Congress, 16th Congressional District

Member of the House of Representatives

Esmeralda Soria photo

Builds Power
Builds Progress
Builds Representation
Courage Endorsed

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, 21st District

Member of the State Assembly

No Good Choices

Adam Gray is the incumbent, having served as Assembly District Representative since 2012. Based on our Courage Score analysis, Gray has shown that he does NOT advocate for the needs of constituents and facing down corporate lobbyists and interest groups that exploit Californians.

Democrat Adam Gray is running for reelection in 2020 unopposed. Gray is not serving his constituents with progressive solutions. Gray scored just 9 out of 100 on this year’s Courage Score, our annual analysis of a legislator's progressive voting records. According to recent election results, Democrats usually win this seat.

There is no progressive choice on the ballot. We encourage you to write in a candidate of your choice to show support for progressives in this district. Keep reading for progressive recommendations in other key races and on ballot measures where your vote can make a critical difference.

Statewide Ballot Measures

Proposition 13


Vote YES On Prop 13, School and College Facilities Bond

This proposition would provide $9 billion for desperately needed renovations to public preschools and grade schools throughout the state, and $6 billion for construction to community colleges, the Cal State system, and the UC system. This will allow the state of California to use tax revenue to pay for improvements that local communities cannot afford. 

The funding would come from bonds the state would pay back over 35 years, totaling an estimated $26 billion, which includes $15 billion in principal and $11 billion in interest. This investment is well worth the costs. It takes money, after all, to ensure that students -- especially those in districts that can’t afford major capital improvement projects -- do not have to learn in dangerous environments. 

The vast majority of Democrats in the state legislature support it, as does Gov. Newsom, and the only major opposition is a group called the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. This is the group famous for destroying California’s school funding system in 1978 through another proposition, ironically one that was also dubbed Prop 13. The group spends most of its time lobbying to reduce tax rates. It has never shown any interest in supporting California’s children, at least if that means wealthy individuals or giant corporations would pay their fair share in taxes.

Critics of the measure have pointed out that the ballot measure’s language includes a provision that frees new multi-family developments around subway stops and bus stations from school impact fees. This provision will make it easier for developers to build apartment buildings within a half-mile of public transit but could also drive up the cost of new housing and take funds away from school districts across the state. Despite this provision, the measure is still supported by most education groups in the state, who believe the overall funding allocation to schools outweighs the impact of reduced funding to school districts located near transit hubs. 2020’s Prop 13 is worth the investment since it means children will soon be able to attend school in buildings that are retrofitted to withstand earthquakes and no longer have lead in their water. 

We strongly recommend a YES vote on Prop 13.

Last updated: 2020-03-02