State Sen. Holly Mitchell endorses Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto for district assembly seat

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State Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, endorsed Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto’s campaign for the 15th state assembly seat, according to a press release published Tuesday.

Mitchell is the first African American to chair the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee and has served in the state legislature since 2010. Pardue-Okimoto is a registered nurse and has worked at the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center for 17 years.

“I endorsed Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto because she’s the most qualified candidate,” Mitchell said in an email statement. “Her background, intellect and knowledge of her community make her the easy choice.”

Pardue-Okimoto’s campaign is focused on making healthcare accessible, increasing educational opportunities, reforming civil justice and protecting the environment. She said in an emailed statement that she is proud to have Mitchell’s support but believes the race will be won in the district.

“This race is a marathon – not a sprint – and the open primary shows that these races can be complicated so the work needs to be done neighborhood by neighborhood,” Pardue-Okimoto said in her statement. “That is my focus – using the foundation that I have built both as a nurse and a community leader in El Cerrito to be successful next June.”

The seat is currently occupied by Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, who announced his intent in April to run for state superintendent of public instruction in 2018. Other candidates include Berkeley City Councilmember Ben Bartlett, disability activist Cheryl Sudduth, Berkeley Unified School District board member Judy Appel, former Obama administration adviser Buffy Wicks, freelance writer Owen Poindexter, East Bay Municipal Utility District board member Andy Katz, Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb and Richmond City Councilmember Jovanka Beckles.

Regarding Mitchell’s endorsement of Pardue-Okimoto, Poindexter said he believes Pardue-Okimoto is “worthy of support” and a strong candidate.

“The fact that it’s an open seat in a very politically active district means that lots of people … see this as a unique opportunity,” Poindexter said in an email. “What’s unique about this race is how many qualified candidates there are and how little separates us on policy.”

Contact Olivia Nouriani at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @olivianouriani.