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Online Extra: Political Notes: Out Oakland councilman hosts re-election fundraiser

by Matthew S. Bajko

Oakland City Councilman Abel Guillén met former first lady Michelle Obama when she was in the city last week. Photo: Courtesy Abel Guillén
Oakland City Councilman Abel Guillén met former first lady Michelle Obama when she was in the city last week. Photo: Courtesy Abel Guillén  

As he gears up for his re-election bid this fall to a second four-year term on the Oakland City Council, District 2 Councilman Abel Guillén will be seeking support from the East Bay city's Asian community this week.

In 2014 the former Peralta Community College Board of Trustees member became the second out man to serve on the Oakland council. Guillén identifies as two spirit and dates both men and women.

His District 2 seat covers Oakland's Chinatown, Grand Lake, San Antonio, and Trestle Glen districts. He is currently one of two LGBT community members on the Oakland council, as lesbian City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan holds the body's at-large seat representing the entire city.

Challenging Guillén this year is Nikki Fortunato Bas, executive director of the Partnership for Working Families. The daughter of immigrants from the Philippines, she would be Oakland's first Filipina councilwoman.

"I'm running to bring bold, innovative and proactive leadership to make Oakland work for all of us," stated Bas on her campaign website. "I will tackle the critical issues facing our city and District 2 - housing, jobs, community safety - and bring accountability to City Hall."

A former organizer in Oakland's Chinatown, Bas has support from a number of queer leaders, such as transgender union organizer Gabriel Haaland and Alicia Garza, who identifies as queer and is a co-founder of Black Lives Matter.

Guillén has already garnered endorsements from a number of elected officials and community leaders, including lesbian BART Board member Rebecca Saltzman, gay former Oakland city councilman Danny Wan, and gay Alameda County Board of Education Director Joaquin Rivera, who is running for re-election on the June 5 primary ballot.

"I'm proud of the progress we've made this year to solve issues both in District 2, and citywide," wrote Guillén in a recent email to his supporters. "As Councilmember, I'm repairing our streets and aging infrastructure, reducing harmful waste to keep our neighborhoods beautiful and safe, and I'm fighting for funding to create more affordable housing and transportation access."

As of the first of the year, Bas reported having $39,353 in her campaign account. She raised a total of $43,000 last year. Guillén raised $61,546 in 2017 and reported having $39,291 in his campaign account as of January 1.

This Wednesday, April 4, Guillén will be joined by state Controller Betty Yee, who is also up for re-election this year, at a fundraiser in Oakland's Chinatown. The event at Sakura Bistro, 388 Ninth Street, begins at 5:30 p.m. and tickets start at $100 per person.

To RSVP, email or call (510) 922-9626.

East Bay Assembly candidate hosts SF fundraiser
A host of LGBT lawmakers are holding a fundraiser in San Francisco Thursday, April 5, for the Assembly campaign of lesbian Berkeley school board member Judy Appel. She is one of three out candidates seeking to succeed Assemblyman Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond) in the 15th Assembly District and be the first LGBT state lawmaker from the East Bay.

Thurmond is running to be the state's superintendent of public instruction after serving two two-year terms in the Legislature. His Assembly seat stretches from Richmond south into parts of north Oakland.

As the Bay Area Reporter has noted, the contest is the only competitive legislative race with LGBT candidates in the Bay Area this year. Lesbian Richmond City Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles and bisexual East Bay Municipal Utility District board member Andy Katz are also looking to survive the June 5 primary, where the top two vote-getters regardless of party affiliation will advance to the November election.

El Cerrito City Councilwoman Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto has Thurmond's endorsement. The other top straight Democrats in the race are former Obama administration staffer Buffy Wicks, Berkeley City Councilman Ben Bartlett, and Oakland City Councilman Dan Kalb.

With few policy differences between the candidates, any one of them could win the seat. No candidate was able to secure the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club's endorsement last month. And it remains to be seen if the other LGBT political group in the East Bay, the Lambda Democratic Club of Contra Costa County, will coalesce around one of the candidates when its members vote later this month on an endorsement in the race.

Helping Appel to bolster her campaign coffers this week will be gay state legislators Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) along with lesbian Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton). The trio is co-hosting the San Francisco fundraiser for Appel along with gay Palm Springs City Councilman Geoff Kors and his husband, Palm Springs school board member James Williamson, and several other local leaders.

The event will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at a private home in the city's Noe Valley neighborhood. Tickets begin at $100.

To RSVP and receive the address, email or call (510) 922-9626.

This Saturday, April 7, a number of the AD 15 candidates are expected to take part in a "Radical Empathy Forum" co-hosted by BridgeUSA and the Empathy Tent. The event is aimed at fostering a more empathetic and caring political culture in the Assembly district.

The event is free and open to the public. It will take place from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Genetics and Plant Biology building on the UC Berkeley campus. To RSVP, visit

Lesbian PAC hosts SF fundraiser
LPAC, the country's only lesbian political action committee, is hosting a fundraiser in San Francisco Thursday, April 5, with special guest, lesbian Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, to raise money to support its endorsed candidates running for office this year.

The organization aims to elect more LGBTQ women and women of color to national and statewide office. Among its top priorities in 2018 is seeing that lesbian U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) retains her seat come November and that bisexual U.S. Congresswoman Krysten Sinema (D-Phoenix) joins her by winning the Arizona U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Senator Jeff Flake.

In California, LPAC is backing lesbian aging policy expert Joy Silver's bid to unseat state Senator Jeff Stone (R-La Quinta) from his 28th District seat. The GOP lawmaker represents the gay mecca of Palm Springs but is considered one of the most anti-LGBT members of the state Legislature.

"LPAC is committed to being a powerful force for positive political change in this country," stated San Francisco resident Joyce Newstat, vice-chair of the LPAC board. "LPAC supports champions of LGBTQ equality, women's rights, and racial and social justice, and we are committed to contribute in meaningful ways and help to elect strong new leaders."

Over the last six years, LPAC has raised $4.5 million, with nearly $3 million of that money going to support more than 90 candidates for public office. Tickets to the local event this week - it takes place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Chambers, 601 Eddy Street -start at $100.

"This fundraiser is a great opportunity for San Francisco community activists to meet the nation's only lesbian Super PAC," stated Rachel Robasciotti, LPAC board treasurer who co-owns a San Francisco-based wealth management firm. "We hope everyone interested in our work will come out on April 5 and meet some amazing queer women."

To buy tickets for the fundraiser online, visit

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @ .
Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail .


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