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 findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov. To find out if you’re eligible to participate in the intra-party elections, check your registration status at sos.ca.gov/elections/cavoter.
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.