OAKLAND — Alameda Unified School District Board of Education President Mia Bonta won a runoff in the 18th Assembly District to succeed her husband, Rob Bonta, who was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom as state attorney general.
In the Aug. 31 election, Bonta received 35,501 votes (56.14%) to social justice attorney Janani Ramachandran’s 27,740 (43.86%). The candidates, both Democrats, were the top vote-getters in the June 29 primary.
“I am honored and grateful that you have put your trust in me to represent our community in Sacramento,” Bonta said in a Facebook post.
“Rob and I chose to build our life here in the East Bay because we knew this community was special. This is a unique pocket of the world where we celebrate our diversity, where we welcome folks of different backgrounds, where folks are free to speak their mind and stand up against injustice. It is that special East Bay spirit that I plan to represent in the Assembly. I am going to Sacramento to build upon that ethos to help our community thrive.
“How will we do that? Together, we will build more affordable housing so folks can afford to live here. We will invest in our public schools so our students and teachers can reach their full potential. We will invest in clean energy and environmental justice initiatives to protect our health and ensure our future. We will reform our criminal justice system so that folks are not treated differently based on the color of their skin or the dollar amount in their bank account.
“Our community is strong, and we have all the leadership and potential to make it stronger and better, and that is what I intend to always strive for in the Assembly.
“This was a people-powered campaign. This victory belongs to every volunteer who gave their time to canvassing, calling, and texting voters to get the word out about the importance of voting in this special election. I want to thank everyone who had a hand in getting us here tonight — you inspire me and you are the reason we are going to see real change here in our community.
“I am ready to go to Sacramento and get to work!”
“Congratulations Mia Bonta on being elected to the California State Assembly!” Rob Bonta said on social media. “You ran a powerful, positive, people-powered campaign fueled by hope and optimism for our shared future and all we can accomplish together, and you inspired a beautifully diverse coalition to stand with you! Can’t wait to see all you do for the East Bay and California!”
The district includes the cities of Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro, all in Alameda County. Rob Bonta was first elected in December 2012 and served until last April, when he assumed his new post. He was the first Filipino American to serve in the California Legislature.
“I am a Black Latina, daughter of activists, and the mother of three Filipino children,” Mia Bonta said in a recent interview. “I have a strong affinity for, and responsibility for allyship with the Filipino community.”
Ramachandran, the daughter and granddaughter of immigrants from India, serves on the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs. She would have been the first South Asian and first LGBTQ API woman in the State Assembly.
Alameda Vice Mayor Malia Vella, the only Filipino American candidate in the primary, endorsed Bonta in the runoff.
Bonta’s other endorsers included Sen. Alex Padilla, Rep. Barbara Lee, Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, State Treasurer Fiona Ma, State Board of Equalization member Malia Cohen, Oakland City Councilmember Sheng Thao, and national figures such as voting rights activist Stacey Abrams and labor leader Dolores Huerta.
“Now more than ever we need progressive leaders like Mia Bonta with the experience to take on tough fights,” said Abrams. “Mia Bonta has done the hard work in her community for decades, lifting up children and working families throughout her career as a nonprofit leader. She understands the daily challenges folks are facing and she will fight for affordable housing, public school funding, criminal justice reform, and bold action to combat climate change.”