Berkeley Federation of Teachers endorses Judy Appel for district assembly seat

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The Berkeley Federation of Teachers, or BFT, endorsed Judy Appel’s campaign for the state assembly CA-15 district seat last week.

BFT represents a group of about 800 teachers and staff members from Berkeley public schools. Appel is currently serving a second term for the Berkeley Unified School District school board. Because she considers education a social justice issue, Appel said if elected to represent District 15, she will continue to work on improving access to education for students and creating employee housing for school teachers.

One of our strong beliefs is that electing people to the assembly who have experience in school boards is good for public education,” BFT president Cathy Campbell said. “Judy is the ideal candidate for the time we are living in. … We need to promote champions who understand groups under attack. Judy has a history of doing that.”

Campbell added that Appel advocated for stronger sanctuary protections, which passed in the BUSD board, as well as informing undocumented families of their rights and creating a welcoming school environment.

“I’ve worked in and for this community for the past 25 years to level the playing field. … This support from BFT means a lot to me,” Appel said. “Now I’m ready to take it to Sacramento full-time and work with our communities to help make change.”

Appel faces several other candidates for the District 15 seat currently held by Tony Thurmond who is running for state superintendent of public instruction in 2018. The candidates for the assembly seat include Berkeley City Councilmember Ben Bartlett, Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb, former Obama administration official Buffy Wicks, Richmond City Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles and East Bay Municipal Utility District Board member Andy Katz.

Bartlett said he had no opinion about the BFT endorsement, while Beckles congratulated Appel on the endorsement.

“(The endorsement for Appel) doesn’t stop me from continuing to advocate for students and families DAILY in my capacity as a Children’s Mental Health Specialist and continue to advocate for Teachers, students and families in my capacity as Vice Mayor of Richmond,” Beckles said in an email.

Contact Jack Austin at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @JackAustinDC.