Editorial: Simon, Low for Congress

  • by BAR Editorial Board
  • Wednesday January 24, 2024
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Congressional candidates Lateefah Simon, left, and Evan Low. Photo: Courtesy the candidates
Congressional candidates Lateefah Simon, left, and Evan Low. Photo: Courtesy the candidates

It's rare that a congressional seat opens up in the Bay Area, and we are fortunate to have extremely supportive representatives here. But change is afoot with two open congressional seats — one in the South Bay and one in the East Bay. Here are the Bay Area Reporter's recommendations.

Low for Congressional District 16

The South Bay has a historic opportunity to elect a gay Asian man to Congress, but we're recommending current Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino) for the 16th Congressional District because he's the best candidate running in a crowded field to replace the retiring Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto). Eshoo has been a remarkable leader in the House and has always stood as an ally to the LGBTQ community. Low, as a member of our community himself, takes representation to another level. Also important for the diverse Bay Area, Low would be the first Chinese American elected to Congress for the region. He told us in his endorsement questionnaire that he does not take these facts lightly "and [has] been able to break barriers in the past as the first Asian American, openly gay, and one of the youngest people elected to [the Campbell] City Council." From there, where he also served as mayor, Low was elected to the Assembly, where he chaired the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus and led the charge on marriage equality.

Because the House of Representatives is currently controlled by Republicans, albeit by a slim majority, we asked the congressional candidates what types of legislation they can sponsor. Low stated that he intends to work in a bipartisan manner just as he has in the past to find consensus. "I will prioritize kitchen table issues like building more affordable housing, strengthening public safety, supporting Silicon Valley innovation, and bringing down costs for families," he wrote.

Low is supportive of a long-standing goal of moving toward universal health care. Funding, of course, is a major obstacle, which he acknowledged. He derided Republicans' constant attacks on the Affordable Care Act in an effort to roll back protections for pre-existing conditions and coverage for millions of Americans.

Low has the support of the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, Equality California, and Representative Ro Khanna (D-San Jose), among others. He would be an exceptional addition to California's congressional delegation and would work not only for the LGBTQ and Asian American communities, but also for all of the people in his district.

Simon for Congressional District 12

This seat is open because veteran Representative Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) is running for the U.S. Senate. Of the candidates running, Lateefah Simon is the most qualified. A strong ally to the LGBTQ community, Simon, currently a director on the BART board, has experience with government agencies such as the transit service, as well as with nonprofits like the Young Women's Freedom Center, which she stated she grew into one of the country's leading juvenile justice reentry youth-run organizations that serves gender nonbinary and trans young people. "The Bay Area has a deep history of leading on LGBTQ+ rights and if elected, I will continue the strong allyship and work with leaders in the community to protect our LGBTQ+ youth, and continue the fight for equal rights," Simon stated in her endorsement questionnaire.

A Black woman who is legally blind, Simon has fought to make BART more affordable for working families and transit-dependent people like herself, she noted.

Simon supports single-payer health care. "It is clear to me that the exorbitant cost of health care is untenable," she stated. "I am committed to fighting for this change to make quality health care accessible and affordable for all."

Simon is a progressive, but stated that she recognizes the need for bipartisan collaboration in the current political landscape. One area that has potential for that is transit policy. "I plan to be a leader on progressive transit policy," she stated. "Infrastructure reform has historically been something that both parties can support and I believe it's high time that we make transit policy a priority ... This issue, fundamentally linked to economic justice, lacks sufficient leadership. I hope to fill this gap."

Simon noted that stigma persists around public housing. She stated Congress needs to focus on housing that acts as a resource for all. "Our public housing needs to be mixed use and multi-income," she stated. "This kind of housing will provide new customers to small businesses owned by LGBTQ+ folks that have become the lifeblood of so many communities in California." Further, Simon noted it's important that the housing is accessible by public transit and that more communities are walkable.

Simon is a longtime community organizer. East Bay voters would be fortunate to have her in Congress where she can use those skills to help bring about support for legislation like the stalled Equality Act.

Simon has the support of Equality California, gay BART board President Bevan Dufty, and the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, among many others. She would be a champion for constituents in Oakland and the surrounding cities, and hit the ground running.

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