Buffy Wicks leads in Assembly District 15 seat over Jovanka Beckles

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Buffy Wicks is leading over opponent Jovanka Beckles for the California State Assembly District 15 seat, receiving 56 percent of the vote with 100 percent of precincts reporting as of press time at 3:01 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Assembly District 15 runs from western Contra Costa County to northern Alameda County, including Berkeley, Emeryville, Richmond and parts of Oakland. Buffy Wicks will replace two-term incumbent Tony Thurmond, who was trailing Marshall Tuck in the race for state superintendent of education as of press time.

Wicks, who lives in Oakland but had no official ties to District 15 before the election, ran against Proposition 10, which failed to pass. Prop. 10 would have repealed the controversial Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.

Wicks also emphasized alleviating homelessness throughout her campaign, suggesting an increase to the renter tax credit and increasing the number of available drug treatment and mental health programs.

Wicks served on former president Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns and as deputy director for the White House Office of Public Engagement. She has never previously held public office.

“It’s really a testament to the grounding that Buffy has built over the last year,” said Wicks’ spokesperson Debbie Mesloh.

According to Mesloh, Wicks has held 240 listening sessions with potential constituents, and her campaign team has knocked on more than 100,000 doors to drum up support for Wicks. Mesloh said Wicks’ first move will be to tackle her proposed solutions to the housing crisis and to begin working on her strategies to combat homelessness once Wicks settles into her Assembly seat.

Wicks was endorsed by Obama, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, Berkeley City Councilmembers Lori Droste and Susan Wengraf, the Berkeley Democratic Club and the California Professional Firefighters.

Beckles, who could not be reached for comment as of press time, has pushed for increasing affordable housing on public property using public funds instead of building more market-rate housing, abolishing private prisons and fully funding public education. She also supported Prop. 10 and helped bring rent control to Richmond as a Richmond City Council member.

“Thank you to everyone who volunteered, voted, donated, or otherwise supported our people-powered campaign,” Beckles wrote on Twitter shortly after polls closed Tuesday evening. “No matter what happens, I’m energized by the movement we’re building. Let’s keep fighting.”

Beckles is a two-term Richmond City Council member and a children’s mental health specialist.

Beckles was endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, Berkeley City Councilmembers Kate Harrison and Kriss Worthington, the Alameda Labor Council and Cal Berkeley Democrats.

Contact Ashley Wong at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @wongalum.