Writer Owen Poindexter, registered nurse Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto join CA-15 district race

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Two additional candidates, writer and activist Owen Poindexter and registered nurse Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, joined the expanding list of candidates for the 2018 California 15th State Assembly District election.

Poindexter, a freelance writer and host for the politics podcast The Basic Income Podcast, filed his intent to run for the district assembly seat Aug. 14, but has since been in a “soft launch mode.” Pardue-Okimoto, a nurse and patient advocate, has worked at the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center for 17 years, currently in the neonatal intensive care unit. She filed her intent to run this week and issued a press release announcing her campaign Wednesday.

Poindexter worked as an organizer on former president Barack Obama’s first campaign. He also wrote about campaign finance reform in California and at a federal level at MapLight, a nonpartisan organization that works to “illuminate the influence of money on politics,” according to its website.

“I decided that (running for state assembly) is something that will mean a lot for movements that I care about,” Poindexter said. “It will allow me to shape conversation in a way that it needs to go.”

Poindexter said his main platforms include providing housing, healthcare and basic economic security to every person in the state of California. This will include providing incentives to build affordable housing and better enforcing existing laws, moving toward single-payer healthcare and beginning to establish universal basic income.

“It’s in our power to have a California with a truly shared prosperity,” Poindexter said.

Pardue-Okimoto serves on the El Cerrito City Council and formerly worked as the vice chair of the Human Relations Commission, establishing the Loving Day project to honor the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize interracial marriage, according to her press release.

She also said she is concerned about the declining access to healthcare and maternity services, as well as reforming the educational system to ensure equal access and opportunity in schools and closing achievement gaps between children of color and other children.

“Like many women out in the community, (I) have served on lots of boards and commissions,” Pardue-Okimoto said. “(We) don’t always have traditional paths to leadership, but we’re always involved in our communities.”

Poindexter and Pardue-Okimoto are joining the growing list of contenders for the state assembly office, which is currently occupied by Assemblymember Tony Thurmond. This includes disability activist Cheryl Sudduth, BUSD board member Judy Appel, former Obama Administration adviser Buffy Wicks and Richmond City Councilmember Jovanka Beckles.

“It’s a daunting task to take on a very strong field,” Poindexter said of his opponents.

Thurmond, who filed an intent to run for the 15th State Assembly district election, also announced his intent in April to run for state superintendent for public instruction in 2018.

Beckles noted that Parude-Okimoto has only spent six months as an city council member and said she felt it would be “incredibly disappointing” to those constituents who voted for Pardue-Okimoto to see her change positions before completing her term.

“It’s a noble desire to want to serve in public office,” Beckles said. “My hats are off to all of the people who want to serve in the capacity of an elected official.”

Contact Ani Vahradyan at avahradyan@dailycal.org and follow her on Twitter at @anivahrad.

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