Little-Known Silicon Valley Election to Define Future of California Democratic Party

South Bay Democrats have a chance to shape the future of the state party this weekend.

The obscure every-other-year elections of Assembly delegates—known as ADEM—kick off this Saturday and Sunday and continue the following two weekends. They span 80 districts statewide and will result in the election of 1,000 people with the power to decide which policies and candidates Cal Dem should back and who should lead the state party in the wake of Eric Bauman’s resignation as chair amid sexual misconduct allegations.

Historically, the winners comprise politicos and their inner circles. But this year has drawn a far more diverse range of candidates organizing progressive slates up and down California in hopes of reforming the party from within.

While voters can pick only one Assembly member at a time, Democrats on a biennial basis can choose 14 new delegates—half men, half women—in each district. The vast majority of the South Bay is covered by Assembly districts 25, 27 and 28, where no representative endorsed a full slate.

Ash Kalra’s Assembly District 27 encompasses most of San Jose, including downtown, East Side and its southeastern neighborhoods. Evan Low represents Assembly District 28, which spans the southwestern corner of the county and includes Campbell, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga and San Jose’s West Valley. Kansen Chu reps District 25, covering north San Jose, Milpitas and Fremont.

In AD 28—the district with the largest geographic reach in the county—a total of 33 candidates are in the running.

Reformers have curated a slate of 14 delegates they’d like to see elected. The group called Progressive Revolution, helmed by Santa Clara County Democratic Party executive board incumbent and labor activist Olivia Navarro, supports a platform of social, economic and environmental justice and policies such as Medicare for All and a Green New Deal. The slate also endorses progressive activist Kimberly Ellis as state party chair.

Plenty of familiar faces populate the progressive lineup: former San Jose Unified trustee Michael Melillo, Women’s March organizer Jennie Richardson, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority board member Shay Franco-Clausen, former Cupertino council candidate Tara Sreekrishnan and San Jose policy aide Helen Chapman, Sergio Lopez, Jon-Paul Wolfe, Jesus Salazar, Christopher Paup, Alex Gould, Aidan Rodriguez-Swanson, Alexia Worsham and Jessica Matthew.

They’re up against Uniting AD 28 for the People, a coalition of 10 supporting California Teachers Association organizer Adia Hoag for executive board. Running with her: Low’s legislative aide Patrick Ahrens, San Jose mayoral spokeswoman Chloe Meyere, veteran Dem activist John Comiskey, Bay Area Swing Left coordinator Titus Lin, South Bay Swing Left co-founder Carly Hasbrook, San Jose Moms Demand Action founder Teresa Fiss, James Kim, Erica Shirley Chubbic and Chuck Stevens.

Lin described the slate as “activists and workers who have spent years boots on the ground to flip congressional districts, elect progressives to office, and push through progressive policy and change with real and tangible results.”

Other contenders running independently in AD 28 include: Saratoga Councilman Rishi Kumar, Ram Gopal, Uma K, Stephen Guggenheim, Rahul Vasanth, Parth Bharwad, Fred Rehhausser, Anusha Kondiparti and Andrae Wara-Macapiniac.

The reformers in Assembly District 27, dubbed the Unity Slate, led by county Dem executive board member Monica Kitchiner includes former Alum Rock Union schools candidate Raymond Mueller, Santa Clara County Office of Education trustee Peter Ortiz, San Jose Councilwoman Sylvia Arenas, Orchard City Indivisible co-founder Mara Privitt and newly elected county party Vice Chair Jean Cohen. Also on the slate: Michelle Maa, Laura Drocic, Gina Gates, Domingo Candelas, Enrique Arguello, Mark Hennessey, Miguel Favela and Will Smith.

Also running, albeit sans slate: Emilie Gatfield, Thomas David Forderer, Roger Boyer, Jessica Dickinson Goodman.

In AD 25, there are 31 candidates. They are: Alex Caraballo, Allison Flemings Bulliavac, Alka Bhatnagar, Ari Adair, Carmen Montano, Christina Ramos, David Donaldson, Karina Dominguez, Eddy Gonzalez, Edwina Davies Mendez, John Weed, Linda Alexander, Lorena Chavez, Madhu Gupta, Mahesh Pakala, Marc Chopin, Martha Kreeger, Matthew Jorgens, Michael Gardner, Peggy Herndon, Raj Chahal, Rajesh Gupta, Ram Misra, Reena Rao, Rob Means, Sameena Usman, Stefan Wooding, Suraj Viswanathan, Tejinder Dhami, Teresa Cox and Van Lan Truong.

Click here to read bios of each would-be delegate. To find out what Assembly District you live in, go to To find out if you’re eligible to participate in the intra-party elections, check your registration status at

For the AD 27 election, hear speeches and vote from 11:30am to 1:30pm Saturday at the IBEW Local 32 Union Hall, 2125 Canoas Garden Ave., in San Jose. For AD 28, speeches and voting runs from 2 to 5pm Sunday at the Campbell Community Center, 1 W. Campbell Ave., in—you guessed it—Campbell. For AD 25, it’s noon to 3pm Sunday at SEIU Local 521 union hall, 2302 Zanker Road, San Jose.

The ADEM elections in Marc Berman’s Assembly District 24 will take place on Jan. 26. Click here to see the times and dates.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. It’s unfortunate that the Progressive Revolution slate (and many of the decent names on the slate) has to be led by Olivia Navarro. She is eternally thirsty for political relevance and will stop at no one to get there (and has accomplished little so far). Her name drags down the whole slate, and her Facebook page even says she’s “elected” as a neighborhoods commissioner but that’s misleading at best. Vote for real progressives this weekend and avoid Olivia Navarro. Real people deserve real leaders in our Dem party, not people who prefer to make their picture bigger than their peers on campaign literature.

    • The others are also thirsty. They all start like organizers with an aim at political power. They all attend the same meetings and shake the hands of the same corrupted local officials. Some start with good intentions and become corrupted by their new power seeker friends. Be friends of the people not the local supervisors and other officials with dirty skeletons in the closet. I am a democrat and not voting for any of those. Local organization support them so they can later favor organization. After all, some of those organizations have politicians as executives, example, AACI, Edwin Tan…all friends with local and state politicians. Rep and Dem political reform is needed. This way all will have access to be candidates not only those with friends like Cortese, Chavez…The power seekers run our state not the talented! CHANGE THE STATUS QUO!

      • > Rep and Dem political reform is needed.

        No reform needed for Repubs.

        The California Republican Party has been vaporized. There is nothing left to “reform”.

        I get a good chuckle listening to Democrat “activists” shrieking about the Republican bogeyman under the bed

        There’s nothing under the bed but dust bunnies and Democrat politician sexual misconduct scandals.

  2. > Democrats on a biennial basis can choose 14 new delegates—half men, half women—in each district.

    If each slate consists of seven XX chromosome persons and seven XY chromosome persons, how can any group claim that their slate is “more diverse” than anyone else’s slate?

  3. Vote for independent candidates not those within a power seeker mentality. No to those by Navarro’s side. Give the power to those running alone not in a gang. They are already partners of corruption.

  4. I feel too tired of seeing the same people. Those that get together, give recognition to themselves, and then pack together to be ‘progressive?” Cindy Chavez dictating what the Santa Clara Women Policy does or supports, which groups and how much. Has any one noticed most people running are White, Middle Easter, and other Asians in this county? It very much looks like a group of Democratic insiders. Some people on the slates have supported other local officials such as Lauri Smith despite of her well known corrupted ways. The Sheriff’s and DA office have engaged in dismissing cases of local officers engaging in domestic violence and other crimes. Then, they pretend to be pro-women advocates by taking pictures with local feminists. The past cannot be undone. A good number of local politicians have weak agendas and political behavior. For those starting a political career, run alone. I am changing my political affiliation from democrat to No Party. Both Dems and Rep politicians are corrupted. RUN INDEPENDENT AND BECOME a NO PARTY VOTER. Vote for issues and individuals not political insiders and their agendas.

    • > Both Dems and Rep politicians are corrupted.

      But Dems are MORE corrupted simply because there are more of them.

      The reason that corrupt politicians are corrupted is so that they can “deliver the goods”.

      It’s easy to see Democrat politician corruption because Democrats occupy all the positions of power in California.

      It’s more difficult to establish Republican politician corruption in California because Repubs don’t have any power.

      Anyone with any brains who is trying to buy a political favor in California shops at the Democrat Politician Mega-Mall, not at the pathetic Republican Party Strip Mall.

      > Vote for issues and individuals not political insiders and their agendas.


      But when voting for “issues and individuals”, it is important to understand the underlying context and ethos that are driving the issues and individuals. Example: illegal immigration is NOT about “keeping families together”, it’s about replenishing the urban vote plantations that are constantly losing their underclass wards.

      • > pathetic Republican Party Strip Mall
        You mean the Republican Party Sears store. Y’know, out of business, because it couldn’t keep up with changing demographics.

        • Mr. Resident:

          You’re enjoying Democrat politician corruption.

          I can tell.

          > Y’know, out of business, because it couldn’t keep up with changing demographics.

          You’re proud of your demographic, aren’t you. You must belong to a privileged demographic that is superior to all the other demographics. Which demographic would that be?

        • Now I understand the problem at Sears SCCR, Sears was picked clean by illegal aliens , I mean undocumented Democrats. All the honest people are leaving California to scavengers and parasites.

  5. > Democrats on a biennial basis can choose 14 new delegates—half men, half women—in each district.

    Wait a minute!

    How did PROGRESSIVE Democrats ever agree to THIS?!!!!

    Sixty-two percent of votes in the Democrat primary election were cast by WOMEN! The Democrat Party IS a party of women!

    If the delegate system were FAIR and if it reflected the REAL base of the Democrat Party, the delegates should be split with NINE delegates for women and FIVE delegates for men.

    But even a split of that nature would not necessarily be supportive of the agenda of the Democratic Party. The foremost social issue being confronted by Democrats today is TOXIC MASCULINITY and the carriers of toxic masculinity are . . . MEN!

    If Democrats REALLY wanted to do something about toxic masculinity they would have NO delegates who are so infected. They would have NO MALE DELEGATES.

    A really REVOLUTIONARY, RADICAL, PROGRESSIVE delegation would have FOURTEEN women and ZERO men.

    There is NOTHING other than the rules of bureaucracy that requires a delegation to be EQUALLY balanced by gender. In order to realize progressive goals, delegation composition SHOULD align with the policies of social change that the Democratic party base is looking for: In this case, it is gender equality and the complete elimination of toxic masculinity,. Tolerating even small ration of toxic masculinity is an unnecessary compromise in the road to gender equality.


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