Political Notes: Ahead of SF event, LPAC endorses Bay Area candidates

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Monday May 20, 2024
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Jovanka Beckles, left, running for an East Bay state Senate seat, and Katie Causey, running for a seat on the Palo Alto City Council, both received endorsements from LPAC, which works to elect LGBTQ women and nonbinary individuals to public office across the country. Photos: Courtesy the campaigns
Jovanka Beckles, left, running for an East Bay state Senate seat, and Katie Causey, running for a seat on the Palo Alto City Council, both received endorsements from LPAC, which works to elect LGBTQ women and nonbinary individuals to public office across the country. Photos: Courtesy the campaigns

Ahead of hosting a fundraiser in San Francisco in early June, LPAC has endorsed two more out female Bay Area candidates running in the November 5 election. The political action committee works to elect LGBTQ women and nonbinary individuals to public office across the country.

In the competitive race for an open East Bay state Senate seat, LPAC announced May 16 its endorsement of lesbian former Richmond city councilmember Jovanka Beckles (D), who also identifies as queer. The married mom who now serves on the board of AC Transit would be the first out state legislator from Contra Costa County if elected to the Senate District 7 seat, which also includes parts of Alameda County.

The next day U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) announced he had also endorsed Beckles in the contest.

"No one will fight harder or more diligently for the people of the East Bay than Jovanka Beckles," stated Sanders. "This moment requires bold, progressive leadership. Jovanka knows the struggles of working people and will be an effective, unwavering fighter for them in the State Senate. I am proud to enthusiastically endorse her candidacy."

Beckles placed second in the March 5 primary behind first-place finisher Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín (D). They are seeking to succeed Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), who is termed out later this year and is supporting Arreguín in the race.

Also throwing her support behind him is former state controller Betty Yee (D), who is running for governor in 2026. Earlier in the week the California Democratic Party had also endorsed Arreguín.

"I'm deeply grateful and humbled to receive this endorsement," stated Arreguín about receiving the statewide party's support. "This is an affirmation of our shared commitment to bold, progressive leadership that truly represents the needs of the East Bay."

In the South Bay contest this fall for four seats on the Palo Alto City Council, LPAC last Wednesday also endorsed Katie Causey, who is bisexual. She serves on her city's human relations commission and was the first person to officially declare her candidacy for a council seat.

As the Bay Area Reporter's Political Notebook column reported in April, one of Causey's main priorities is to see a Pride parade wend its way through the Silicon Valley city's downtown where she lives.

Palo Alto elects council members citywide. Two incumbents are expected to seek reelection this fall, leaving two council seats open.

If elected, Causey would serve alongside Palo Alto City Councilmember Julie Lythcott-Haims, who is Black and biracial, queer and bisexual. Lythcott-Haims, who mounted a failed bid for a U.S. House seat on the primary ballot, is not up for reelection to her council seat until 2026.

Beckles and Causey were among 18 candidates LPAC endorsed last week. It has now thrown its support behind 135 candidates.

"LPAC is proud to announce our unwavering support for amazing candidates that represent the future of progressive leadership in our country," stated LPAC Executive Director Janelle Perez. "Each of them brings unique experiences and a strong commitment to justice and equality. Not only do they represent the rich diversity of experiences and perspectives that are crucial to shaping a more inclusive and equitable political landscape, they are breaking barriers and making history for generations to come."

In a post on X about Causey, LPAC noted, "she aims to impact Palo Alto City Council with her deep local roots and experience as a Human Relations Commissioner. Katie's dedicated to supporting her community!"

As for Beckles, LPAC noted in a separate X post, "As a mental health professional and transit board member, Jovanka brings years of service and advocacy to the table."

In her own post on the social media platform, Beckles wrote of LPAC, "I look forward to a lasting partnership that benefits our LGBTQ+ community; health, equity, and justice!"

LPAC has to date endorsed four Bay Area candidates running in fall races.

Last year it came out in support of queer candidate Jennifer Kim-Anh Tran, Ph.D., in the East Bay race to succeed outgoing Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), who lost her U.S. Senate primary bid in March. While she survived her own primary contest, Tran is seen as the underdog against fellow Democrat Lateefah Simon.

The BART board member took a commanding lead in their primary race for the District 12 House seat and is expected to easily win it come November 5. Simon also has attracted wide support from other Democratic Party elected officials, including Lee, and has the statewide party's endorsement.

San Ramon City Councilmember Marisol Rubio (D) also received LPAC's endorsement ahead of her primary for an open state Senate seat. Rubio, who identifies as gender-nonconforming, demisexual, and biromantic, is seeking the District 9 seat that covers much of Contra Costa County and a portion of southern Alameda County.

Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) is termed out, and Assemblymember Tim Grayson (D-Concord) is also running to succeed him. Grayson took first place in the March 5 race and heads into the general election viewed as having an edge over Rubio to win the seat.

June 11 LPAC will be hosting a fundraiser in San Francisco to raise money for its efforts this year on behalf of its endorsed candidates. It is set to take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Scarlet Fox Wine Bar at 1690 Hayes Street in the city's North of the Panhandle neighborhood.

Spouses Kate Maeder and Kaela Miller opened the wine bar last June during Pride Month. Maeder is a well known political strategist and serves on the boards of LGBTQ advocacy groups Equality California and LGBTQ+ Victory Fund.

Tickets start at $300 per person and can be purchased online here. According to the webpage the fundraiser has netted more than $133,100 toward its goal of $250,000. If that goal is met by June 30, then the contributions will be "matched dollar for dollar," per the RSVP page.

"We need you with us. Join LPAC in San Francisco on June 11, to push forward this crucial movement. Your support fuels our drive to elect candidates who stand tall for justice and equality in the halls of power," noted the organization in an emailed invite.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBTQ political news by following the Political Notebook on Threads @ https://www.threads.net/@matthewbajko.

Got a tip on LGBTQ politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected]

Due to the Memorial Day holiday, the Political Notes column will return Monday, June 3.

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