DAVIS — Former Assemblymember Mariko Yamada on March 14 formally began her campaign for the 3rd Senate District seat in 2016.

Composed of Solano and Napa counties and portions of Contra Costa, Sacramento, Sonoma, and Yolo counties, the district is currently represented by Lois Wolk, who will be termed out.

Yamada, a Democrat, a professional social worker and former Yolo County supervisor, enters the race with four decades of experience at the federal, state and local levels and a wide coalition of support.

“In the past 100 days since the conclusion of my Assembly service, I am grateful for the encouragement I have received from so many friends and supporters,” Yamada said. “After hearing from the community, consulting with advisors and having the full support of my family, I am announcing today that I am a candidate for the 2016 open seat in California’s 3rd Senate District.”

Mariko Yamada
Mariko Yamada

In announcing her candidacy, Yamada also released the name of elected officials and community leaders who are endorsing her, including State Controller Betty Yee, State Treasurer John Chiang, State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, former State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, former State Sen. Noreen Evans, former Assemblymember Wes Chesbro, and dozens of other state and local officials and citizens. A full list can be found on her website, http://yamadaforsenate.com.

From 2008 to 2014, Yamada represented both the former 8th Assembly District and the 4th Assembly District, which includes 80 percent of Senate District 3. During that time, she was known as an outspoken advocate for the protection of agriculture and water resources, veterans, vulnerable elders, the mentally ill and persons with disabilities and their caregivers throughout the state. She has been a consistent and insistent voice on the preservation of prime farmland and is opposed to the Delta tunnels.

As a Yolo County supervisor, she worked to protect agriculture, open space and local water resources; expand services to seniors and persons with disabilities; and push back on unsafe development.

Throughout her time in public service and as a social worker, Yamada has worked hard to engage all members of the community to forge common solutions to shared problems and to create new opportunities.

“I am proud of what we’ve accomplished to turn things around in California, but I know we’re not done yet,” said Yamada. “We need experienced and energetic leadership to continue to recover from some of the most difficult times our state and nation have experienced.

“I’m running for State Senate to build upon the work I did in the Assembly, to make sure we’re standing up for the middle class and small businesses throughout California, protecting the most vulnerable, improving our schools, colleges and universities and defending the Delta and the environment.”

Born in Denver after her family’s release from the Manzanar War Relocation Center, she attended inner-city public schools in the Five Points Neighborhood and was the first in her family to graduate from college, earning a B.A. in psychology from the University of Colorado, Boulder and a master’s in social work from the University of Southern California.

Her experience includes a decade in Washington, D.C. in federal service — first with the U.S. Census Bureau working on the undercount reduction campaign for the 1980 Census and then as the only female investigator among four headquarters staff with the Office of the Secretary, Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Commerce. She held similar positions in San Diego County in the late 1980s.

Yamada has been married to Janlee Wong, also a social worker, since 1983, and has resided in Davis since 1994. They are the parents of two adult daughters.

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