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Courage California Voter Guide
Courage California Voter Guide
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With Courage we can make sure our democracy works for ALL Californians

Joel Britton

Joel Britton is a retail worker running as a No Party Preference candidate. He is affiliated with the Socialist Workers Party. He has previously run for California governor, the U.S. Senate, and Los Angeles mayor. He does not have a campaign website.

Stephen Slauson

Stephen Slauson is an electrical engineer who has run for this seat as a Republican in the two previous elections, 2016 and 2020. He had previously questioned then Assemblymember Rob Bonta’s U.S. citizenship status during his campaign, and has launched several recall attempts against Alameda councilmembers, including Malia Vella, accusing her of not being a resident of the city. He does not have a campaign website. 

Eugene Canson

Eugene Canson is a public-health analyst and advocate with the California Black Health Network, and has lived in the district for three years. His candidacy is centered on health disparities within the state and the importance of highlighting health equity and social-investment policy in the legislature. Canson supports a COVID-19 recovery that is responsive to the communities that were most heavily affected by the pandemic. He also has a strong interest in addressing homelessness and the housing crisis through targeted resource distribution, including guaranteed income and educational investment. Canson is a supporter of the California Green New Deal. He has not filed any campaign-finance disclosures with the Secretary of State’s office, or taken any fundraising pledges. He has been endorsed by several health leaders. He does not have a campaign website. 

Victor Aguilar, Jr.

Victor Aguilar, Jr., vice mayor of San Leandro, has lived in the district for ten years. He worked in hospitality before transitioning to a career in IT management and business development. Aguilar’s public service began when he was elected to the San Leandro School Board in 2016, which was followed by his election to the San Leandro City Council in 2019, where he currently serves as the first openly gay vice mayor. 

His platform focuses on criminal-justice reform, universal health care, improved housing access and protections, and racial justice. Aguilar cites the racial discrimination he has endured, and his personal experience with food stamps and unemployment, in his support of the expansion of public investment to fuel economic growth. Victor Aguilar has raised $17,000, and has pledged to refuse fossil fuel money, police money, money from real estate interests, and corporate PAC money in his campaign. He has been endorsed by several local political and community leaders. 

James Aguilar

James Aguilar, a member of the San Leandro School Board, was raised in Oakland and San Leandro. Aguilar’s political engagement began during high school, when he advocated for student voice in city council and was eventually appointed as the first student trustee of the San Lorenzo Unified School District Board. After graduating from high school, he ran for an elected seat on the San Leandro Unified School District Board of Trustees, and was elected in 2018. At 21, he is the youngest elected official in the Bay Area, and the third openly gay person to hold a seat on the SLUSD board. He is a full-time student at San Francisco State University, studying political science, and is involved in a variety of student advocacy groups and initiatives. 

Aguilar cites his childhood experiences in a platform that centers on improving the education system, addressing homelessness, providing health care for all, and improving the infrastructure of public transportation. His platform draws strong connections between economic and environmental justice and the social disparities that exist across different communities in the district. In the Assembly, he would work to put forward legislation that improves the K–12 funding mix, provides free tuition to city and state institutions, and increases the minimum wage to $22/hour. He has pledged to refuse fossil fuel money, police money, money from real estate interests, and corporate PAC money in his campaign. He has been endorsed by several local education and community leaders, former State Superintendent Delaine Eastin, and Freethought Equality Fund. 

Mia Bonta

Mia Bonta, CEO of Oakland Promise, has lived in the district for over 20 years. Bonta earned a master of education degree at Harvard before attending Yale Law School, and has spent her career working in service of public education and youth development. In her role as CEO of Oakland Promise, a cradle-to-career nonprofit,  she works to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. She was elected to the Alameda Unified School District School Board in 2018 and currently serves as president, has served on her local PTA, was a member of the Alameda Free Library Foundation, and served on the district’s Advisory Committees for Women, Education, and Early Childhood. Bonta is married to current state Attorney General Rob Bonta, who vacated this AD-18 seat in March. 

Her local roles and personal connections have allowed her to engage directly with elected officials across the state government, building relationships that would benefit her in Sacramento as she pursues a platform focused on educational equity, reproductive and health justice, and worker protections. Bonta’s platform demonstrates her strong understanding of the intersections of injustice and the importance of disrupting systemic practices to create more equity across our public systems, particularly in response to the unequal economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. She has stated a commitment to coalition-building in the legislature, and frames the knowledge she’s gained in her nonprofit and public career as transferable to the work of building meaningful legislation. 

It has been reported that Mia Bonta has benefited from her husband’s political access, as well. When he was an assemblymember, Rob Bonta made contributions from his campaign accounts to, and fundraised on behalf of, nonprofit organizations led by her. These organizations included Literacy Lab and Oakland Promise. These donations were legal, and Mia Bonta has indicated that she is committed to transparency, but they raised some ethical concerns. Similarly, both Rob and Mia Bonta have received significant political contributions from card rooms and non-tribal casinos this year, indicating a donor base that is interested in the benefits of investing in both of them as a sports-wagering initiative recently qualified for the 2022 ballot. Mia Bonta has raised nearly $250,000, and has pledged to refuse fossil fuel and police money in her campaign. She has been endorsed by many progressive organizations and leaders, including the California Black Legislative Caucus, the California Legislative Latino Caucus, Black Women for Political Action, NAACP, SEIU California, Senator Alex Padilla, Representative Barbara Lee, Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber, State Treasurer Fiona Ma, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, Oakland City Councilmember Sheng Tao, and BART Director Lateefah Simon. 

Janani Ramachandran

Janani Ramachandran, an attorney and activist, is from the East Bay. She spent her early career as a community health caseworker supporting immigrant women experiencing domestic violence, and was disillusioned by the systemic injustice that her clients experienced. To better support these vulnerable communities, she pursued her law degree at Berkeley, and has used her credentials to support tenants’ rights, public ethics, and advocate against family violence and abuse. In addition to her professional work, she has invested in her community by volunteering on a mental-health crisis hotline, supporting restorative-justice efforts, hosting legal-education workshops, and allying with a variety of local grassroots organizations. 

Ramachandran’s platform is rooted in racial, economic, and environmental justice, and focuses on improving the inequitable conditions laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic, including increasing affordable housing availability in the state, supporting universal health care, and increasing the statewide minimum wage to $22/hour. She is a supporter of the California Green New Deal, and demonstrates a deep understanding of the systemic failures and policy limitations that have allowed for ongoing environmental corruption by corporations. Ramachandran has pledged to refuse fossil fuel, police, and corporate PAC money in her campaign. She has been endorsed by many progressive organizations and individuals in the district, including Indivisible East Bay, Our Revolution East Bay, Project Super Bloom, Coalition for Police Accountability, Oakland Tenants Union, Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, Assemblymember Alex Lee, and BART Director Robert Raburn. She has also been endorsed by the East Bay Times. 

Malia Vella

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. 

AD18 Comment

Submitted by caitlin on Fri, 06/04/2021 - 16:09

About the Position

Members of the State Assembly form part of the California State Legislature, and work alongside the governor to establish laws and a state budget. They hold the power to pass bills that affect public policy, set state spending levels, raise and lower taxes, and uphold or override the governor’s vetoes. The California State Assembly has 80 districts. Each represents a population of at least 465,000 Californians. Representatives are elected to the Assembly for a two-year term. Every two years, all 80 seats are subject to election.

CA - June 29, 2021 Special

Submitted by Collin on Fri, 06/04/2021 - 13:43

The Courage California Voter Guide compiles the information that allows you to make informed decisions about the races on your ballot, based on your values. Vote in every race on your ballot! It's our right and our responsibility. Please share this guide with your friends and family.