Berkeley progressive groups endorse Jovanka Beckles for state Assembly

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Richmond Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles won the endorsement of Berkeley Progressive Alliance, Berkeley Citizens Action and Berkeley Tenants Union for the California State Assembly District 15 seat after a forum of the seat’s candidates Sunday afternoon.

The coalition of these three progressive groups in Berkeley met at the South Berkeley Senior Center to determine their formal endorsement for the seat, which is currently held by Tony Thurmond, who is running for state superintendent of public instruction.

“The three coalitions that are meeting together like to believe that we want to represent members of the community that want to fight,” said James Chang, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board commissioner and member of all three organizations in attendance.

After the forum, the audience members voted and Beckles received a formal endorsement by the three organizations, garnering public support and volunteers to her campaign.

Beckles is running alongside eight other candidates:

  • Dan Kalb, Oakland City Council member
  • Andy Katz, East Bay Municipal Utility District board member
  • Judy Appel, vice president of Berkeley Unified School District

Of the nine candidates in the race for the seat, eight spoke at the meeting and fielded questions to about 115 audience members, 74 of whom voted. Because of a family emergency, Wicks was not able to attend the forum.

“Our goal was to identify a progressive candidate that the members of the three organizations felt would best represent progressive interests and to coalesce support behind that candidate, said Linda Franklin, secretary for Berkeley Citizens Action.

A questionnaire filled out by each of the candidates prior to the meeting identified their views on issues important to the three progressive groups. The platforms of the nine candidates were largely uniform.

“All the candidates were in agreement about the need for single-payer healthcare, to repeal the Costa-Hawkins bill regarding rent control. They were all for improving affordable housing … the problem with homelessness, whether they accept corporate money,” said Margot Smith, member of the steering committee for the Berkeley Progressive Alliance.

In addition to selecting a candidate to endorse for the state Assembly seat, the group also voted to endorse Pamela Price for Alameda County district attorney, as Price secured 80 percent of the vote.

Candidates for the state assembly elections will be voted for in the primaries, held in June, in advance of the general election in November.

“Our organization has played a significant role in holding candidates and elected officials accountable to the progressive policies they pledged to support, and also push candidates to support more progressive policies, such as repealing Costa-Hawkins now,” Chang said.

Contact Phil Zhang at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @philzhangDC.