Editorial: State legislative endorsements

  • by BAR Editorial Board
  • Wednesday May 18, 2022
Share this Post:
Assemblymember Matt Haney, left, Assembly candidate Shawn Kumagai, and Assemblymember Alex Lee. Photos: Haney, Christopher Robledo; Kumagai and Lee, courtesy the campaigns
Assemblymember Matt Haney, left, Assembly candidate Shawn Kumagai, and Assemblymember Alex Lee. Photos: Haney, Christopher Robledo; Kumagai and Lee, courtesy the campaigns

California Assemblymembers face election this year, as do some state senators. Below are our recommendations for Bay Area races in the June 7 primary.

State Assembly

District 17: Matt Haney

We did not endorse Matt Haney (D) in the special election or runoff to represent San Francisco but now that he's won those races, we back him for a full two-year term. Although his gay opponent in those races, David Campos, appears on the June ballot, he has ended his candidacy. Haney, a steadfast ally to the LGBTQ community, was an effective member while serving on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and while he's only been in the Legislature a couple of weeks, he's already off and running. He noted on Twitter that he's already co-authored and joint-authored bills and advocated for San Francisco in the state budget. Haney is deserving of reelection.

District 19: Phil Ting

San Francisco Assemblymember Phil Ting (D) has been an effective legislator and continues to be a longtime ally to the LGBTQ community. He faces little opposition, and we support him for another term.

District 15: Buffy Wicks

Assemblymember Buffy Wicks has been a great ally to the LGBTQ community and has a 100% score from Equality California. We recommend her for reelection to her Oakland seat.

District 16: Rebecca Bauer-Kahan

Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D) represents parts of the East Bay. Of particular note, she authored last year's Assembly Bill 439 to allow the option of nonbinary as the gender identity on death certificates. She worked with Equality California on the bill, which Governor Gavin Newsom signed last year. Bauer-Kahan has been a reliable ally, and we endorse her for another term.

District 18: Mia Bonta

Assemblymember Mia Bonta has done a solid job in the short time since she won a special election last year to replace her husband, Rob Bonta, after Newsom appointed him as state attorney general. While we endorsed her opponent last year, Mia Bonta has hit the ground running and has been a champion not only of the LGBTQ community but also for reproductive choice and many other issues. We endorse her for a two-year term.

District 20: Shawn Kumagai

This is a tough one. This is an open seat as the current Assemblymember, Bill Quirk (D), opted not to seek reelection. Both Democratic candidates Shawn Kumagai and Jennifer Esteen identify as gay people of color and both are running good campaigns to represent parts of the East Bay, including Castro Valley, in the Assembly. Esteen, a registered nurse who is Black, is passionate about expanding access to health care. Kumagai, who is Japanese American, strongly favors more programs for those facing chronic mental health issues. But on balance, Kumagai, an elected member of the Dublin City Council, has more experience. (His day job is working as an aide to Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan.) In his Bay Area Reporter endorsement questionnaire, Kumagai wrote that he has consistently advocated for pro-LGBTQ policies since becoming a councilmember. That includes getting the Pride flag flown outside City Hall — after the motion was first voted down, Kumagai stated that he brought the item back and it was passed. He's also worked with the city to have it self-evaluate using the Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index as a guide. "Our first year we achieved a score of 82, and working with staff we now have a score of 95," he wrote.

Having more out legislators is important, and we think Kumagai will do a good job in Sacramento.

21st District: James Coleman

This is an open seat located on the Peninsula. Current Assemblymember Kevin Mullin (D) is not seeking reelection because he's running for Congress. We recommend South San Francisco City Councilmember James Coleman. Coleman, a Democrat, won election to the City Council two years ago and since then has led on various issues, he wrote in his B.A.R. endorsement questionnaire. Those include getting a $5 an hour hazard pay raise for essential workers and implementing a guaranteed income pilot program that provides $500 a month for 12 months to 160 families. He is running on a progressive platform and is the only LGBTQ candidate in the race.

24th District: Alex Lee

Bi Assemblymember Alex Lee (D-San Jose) has been outspoken since being elected two years ago. Lee is a progressive who is working to push more of his colleagues to the left, especially on the issue of single-payer health care. This year he is in a tight reelection race. We like his energy and endorse him for reelection.

26th District: Evan Low

Gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell) has been an effective advocate for his constituents. He has authored bills benefitting the LGBTQ community, such as the ban on conversion therapy for minors that is now state law. Last year, he authored a bill that Newsom signed that calls for big box retailers to have gender-neutral toy aisles. Low moved into this new district, and we endorse him for reelection.

State Senate

District 10: No endorsement

Fremont Mayor Lily Mei was the only candidate in this open race who returned our endorsement questionnaire. Yet, we have reservations about Mei dating from her time on the Fremont school board when she initially voted against marking Harvey Milk Day in honor of the slain gay San Francisco supervisor. The Alameda County Democratic Party took the extreme step of deeming her anti-LGBTQIA+, meaning that it wouldn't endorse her. While Mei stated in her questionnaire that she appointed her city's first transgender youth commissioner and joined fellow Mayors Against LGBTQ Discrimination and marched in a Boston Pride parade, we think another candidate is probably a better fit for this East Bay district.

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.