State Assembly District 15 candidate Jovanka Beckles holds campaign event

Vivian Roan/Staff

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State Assembly District 15 candidate Jovanka Beckles spoke at a community talk in Berkeley on Saturday that included the perspectives of multiple speakers involved in local politics.

Chants of “sí, se puede” and “all power to the people” echoed throughout the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School auditorium as local host, activist and event moderator Andrés Soto kicked off Beckles’ community-driven event.

On primary election night, the California secretary of state’s website showed the election to be a close call, with Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb initially up 200 votes. Beckles then proceeded to overtake him by 300 votes, causing Kalb to withdraw. After narrowly securing her spot on the ballot against Kalb, Beckles will face opponent Buffy Wicks in the November election.

“I have seen Jovanka grow and develop,” Soto said in his opening speech. “I have never seen her waver. Just like in this campaign, the people come together behind the truth.”

Former candidates for the assembly seat Berkeley Unified School District board member Judy Appel, El Cerrito Mayor Pro Tem and nurse Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, and East Bay Municipal Utility District Director Andy Katz demonstrated their solidarity for Beckles’ campaign by speaking about their reasons for supporting her.

Despite having been defeated by Beckles, Katz emphasized Jovanka’s track record of environmental justice and community representation to achieve the goal of bringing about a more inclusive, compassionate California.

“This is the most progressive district in the state in my opinion,” Pardue-Okimoto said in a speech. “It is absolutely imperative that we elect Jovanka. If we don’t, we will lose the heart and the soul of this district.”

Community member Marie Simon, who is originally from Stockton, shared the reasons for why she came to the event. As a senior citizen, Simon said she doesn’t have as much of an opportunity to canvas, but intends to phone bank and persuade neighbors to vote for the candidate she feels is the most “down-to-earth.”

Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator and president of progressive political organization Our Revolution, echoed and supported the arguments made by the preceding speakers. Turner went on to elaborate on the importance of “softening the soil” for future generations, meaning that electing more progressives will make it that much easier for constituents to see the changes they demand.

“This is a fight for justice. Clean air, clean food, Medicare for all is about justice,” Turner said in a speech. “She doesn’t have to make up anything about her record because it’s real.”

Campaign volunteer and Croatia native Ida Martinac expressed her shock that Americans “haven’t pulled out the pitchforks yet,” in reference to the state of health care in the United States. Martinac believes that electing Beckles will protect the community from “dark interests.”

“I want voters to remember me for standing with the people at every turn, in every policy matter and every situation,” Beckles said.

Contact Alexa VanHooser at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @dailycalexa.