The race for the California State Assembly District 15 election has attracted a large pool of 12 candidates, all with diverse and multifaceted platforms. But Assembly District 15 residents need a representative who can prioritize education, as it becomes increasingly inaccessible. That candidate is Judy Appel.
The Daily Californian’s editorial board conducted extensive research on each of the 12 candidates and co-hosted a public forum that gave the nine candidates who appeared the opportunity to answer the board’s questions on issues such as housing, education and health care. Candidate Jovanka Beckles was unable to attend the forum, but the editorial board sent her campaign the questions and considered her written answers in its discussion.
Appel stood out from the crowd. She has spent most of her career campaigning for students, and the state assembly desperately needs that experience as it tackles a higher education funding crisis and a similar devaluation of K-12 schools in California. Too few Assembly members are talking about it. Appel will.
She also has extensive local policy-making experience — she’s spent two terms on the Berkeley Unified School District school board and has made significant improvements to Berkeley’s education system. As a BUSD board member, she fostered restorative justice programs, which helped bring Berkeley High School’s expulsion rate to zero for the first time in 2015.
Appel is running on a platform centered around education equity, proving that she plans to address the lack of diversity within the education system.
“A lot of (the problem) is just the structural inequities of our system. And a lot of it is racism. A lot of it is classism,” Appel said during the forum. “What it’s resulted in is that fewer and fewer people of color are able to get educated by our state.”
But she’s not just an education candidate. The Bay Area is in the midst of a housing crisis, and Appel has promised to “lead the charge” on fighting for affordable housing, according to her website. During the forum, she emphasized the pervasiveness of student homelessness. With her joint degree in law and city planning from UC Hastings College of the Law and UC Berkeley, she has the expertise to push for increased housing.
Appel also wants to ensure that health care is accessible “for every Californian, regardless of the actions taken by an irresponsible Congress,” according to her website. She has the experience to back up her platform — she has served as executive director of the California School-Based Health Alliance, a statewide nonprofit organization that helps put more health services in schools.
This and other platforms are a breath of fresh air in a field of candidates who have lacked a necessary emphasis on education. California has long prided itself on its premier system of higher education — in 2015, the New York Times even referred to the University of California as an upward mobility machine. Candidate Dan Kalb’s promise during the forum to serve on the higher education committee showed that he also gets it. This is a committee spot that Appel would thrive in.
Given their progressive platforms and impressive endorsements, it seems evident that Beckles and Buffy Wicks join Appel as the leaders in this race, and the constituents in Assembly District 15 are lucky for it. All three candidates have displayed an impressive commitment to grassroots governance and equity-focused platforms.
Appel stands apart. That’s why she deserves your support.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.