Activist and public servant Cheryl Sudduth joins race for District 15 assembly seat

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Cheryl Sudduth, a longtime resident and activist in the East Bay, announced Aug. 14 that she will be joining a growing field of candidates for the California 15th State Assembly District election in 2018.

Sudduth, a contracts and compliance officer at Goodwill Industries International and an active volunteer, spent the last 15 years engaging with her communities in Albany, Oakland, Pinole, El Cerrito and Richmond. Sudduth said her experience negotiating government contracts for the last two decades will also offer her insight into negotiation and compromising on federal and state issues.

“(It’s) great to be active in your particular niche area … but this is bigger,” Sudduth said. “This is not a local campaign.”

According to her website, Sudduth’s work and volunteer experience includes expanding employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities, helping youth acquire skills through her nonprofit ICYSports and participating in school boards and task forces for her local schools.

Sudduth’s main platforms include addressing issues such as the empowerment of women and girls, educational reform and environmental justice, according to Sudduth. She advocates for equal pay for equal work and said she believes economic equality creates a foundation for equality in other frontiers.

Sudduth said she wants to increase quality of education, regardless of ZIP code or culture, by holding school teachers and administrators accountable. She added that she wants to prevent environmental injustices in areas that especially impact minority communities.

Sudduth’s announcement adds her to the expanding list of contenders for the state assembly office, currently occupied by Assemblymember Tony Thurmond. This includes Berkeley Unified School District board member Judy Appel, former Obama administration adviser Buffy Wicks, Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb, Richmond City Councilmember Jovanka Beckles and East Bay Municipal Utility District Board member Andy Katz.

“They’ve been chasing endorsements all summer,” Sudduth said of her opposition in the race for the CA-15 district race, adding that she hasn’t seen other candidates participating in “important functions” such as school board meetings or the election of the new district attorney.

Sudduth said she was bothered by individuals announcing their candidacy when they hadn’t been formerly engaged with the greater community.

Thurmond announced his intent in April to run for state superintendent for public instruction in 2018.

Kalb noted that the number of contenders may dwindle in the months leading up to the election and said it would become apparent who is in the subset of candidates. He added that though he isn’t taking anything for granted, he feels confident that he is one of the leading candidates.

“I think it’s great that we have a breadth and depth of candidates in the race,” Wicks said of the wealth of individuals running for the seat. “I really look forward to thoughtful conversations about the (issues) that affect our community.”

Contact Ani Vahradyan at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anivahrad.