By Cherie M. Querol Moreno
OAKLAND, California. – A group calling itself Filipino Americans for a Progressive California is inviting the community to invest in the political aspiration of the candidate they believe is the ideal successor to Attorney General Rob Bonta, the first Filipino American elected to the California Legislature.
Composed of current and retired elected officials and empowerment strategists, the political team is staging a virtual forum August 28 for an opportunity to meet, hear and support Mia Bonta. Mia Bonta is the president of the Alameda Unified School District Board of Education heading for the August 31 runoff election for Assembly District 18 occupied previously by AG Bonta, her husband and fellow social justice activist.
“FilAms for a Progressive California envisions a Filipino American community that strives to fight for progressive values and elect leaders who embrace and demonstrate the same progressive values of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion across race and economic class so that the power to achieve happiness and prosperity is enjoyed by all,” the organization said in its event announcement. FPC is “a group of people who support progressive or left-of-center candidates and policies,” said co-organizer Ray Buenaventura.
Interested parties may register at: https://us02web.zoom.us/
Those who register will receive the Zoom link by email.
Mia (Villafañe) Bonta will face social justice attorney Janani Ramachandran in the August 31 special election to represent Alameda, Oakland and San Leandro, a district with over 270,000 voters. The candidates, both accomplished women of color, placed first and second in the June 29 race to succeed Rob Bonta, who was confirmed by the State Legislature in April following his appointment by Gov. Gavin Newsom in March.
Mia Bonta received 22,558 or 38%, and Ramachandran, a member of the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs, took 14, 036 or 23.7 percent of the 59,328 votes. The only FilAm candidate, Alameda Vice Mayor Malia Vella, got 10,053 or 16% of the vote, placing third in a field of 8.
Because no one garnered over 50 percent of the total votes, Bonta and Ramachandran will proceed to the final ballot.
She may not have been born in the Philippines or share Filipinos’ DNA, but Bonta in a previous interview with author explained how she identifies with Filipinos.
“I am running as an ally to the Filipino American community, and if elected I will continue to support and uplift FilAm candidates across the state, and in particular, the next several legislative cycles as sitting legislators term out in 2024 and beyond,” she said in a June report in Inquirer.net. “I am a Black Latina, daughter of activists, and the mother of three Filipino children. I have a strong affinity for, and responsibility for allyship with the Filipino community.”
She threw her hat in the ring because “for too long, our East Bay communities have been locked out of equal opportunities, and I’m running to ensure Californians of all backgrounds get a fair shot,” she said. If elected, she vowed to address educational equity and homelessness/affordable housing and intersecting issues.
The daughter of Puerto Rican social justice activists disclosed her “housing insecurity as a child” that helped her see and “understand the urgency of keeping families in their homes and protecting tenants…and support programs that assist first time home buyers so they have access to loans and other resources to make homeownership a reality.”
Ramachandran said she is seeking the post “because of the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, and worsening income inequality, environmental catastrophes, and racial injustices.”
While FilAm politicos were split between Bonta and Vella in the primary, the former got the endorsements of elected incumbents El Cerrito Mayor Protem Gabriel Quinto, Hercules City Council Member Alex Walker Griffin, Daly City Council Members Ray Buenaventura and Glenn Sylvester, and retired Cerritos City Council Member Mark Pulido. Her supporters include Genevieve Jopanda, chair emerita of the FilAm Democratic Caucus – California Democratic Partyl, the Pilipino American Lod Angeles Democrats, California Teachers Association, CA School Employees Association, Equality California, and CA Firefighters Association.
Those unable to attend the eleventh hour gab who would like to contribute to the campaign may do so at: https://tinyurl.com/fil-
Organizers hope to gather $40,000. They reminded that the maximum individual donation is $4900 and minimum $50.