Apr 252012

Bonta, Guillen and Young vie for 18th Assembly District Seat

Candidates for CA AD 18

Rob Bonta, Abel Guillen and Joel Young


Who are they and who you should vote for.

*Updated on May 7, 2012*



Any day now, Californian absentee voters will be receiving their mail-in ballots for the June 2012 primary elections.   For years, San Leandro was part of Assembly, Senate and Congressional districts which included our neighbors to the south and east.  Redistricting has changed all that and we now join Alameda and Oakland in a district in which San Leandro has comparably little influence.  It’s thus not surprising that there are no San Leandrans running for state or national office this time around.  As of this year, Barbara Lee will represent us in Congress and Loni Hancock in the California Senate (both need to be re-elected but neither has serious competition).  The 18th District Assembly seat, however, will become vacant because of term limits.  Three candidates – two from Oakland and one from Alameda – are vying for it.

During the last several months I have met and talked extensively with each of the candidates.  I have also heard them at different fora.  Based on what I learned, I have endorsed both Rob Bonta and Abel Guillen.  I’m not usually a fan of dual endorsements, but both these candidates have a lot to offer, in different ways: both are smart and dedicated, but while I see Rob being more methodical and better able to write good legislation, I like Abel’s passion and I think he is more likely to stay true to his progressive ideals.  The third candidate, Joel Young, in my opinion lacks gravitas and seems to have impulse control issues that would not make him a good legislator.

I have written my impressions of each candidate individually.

Rob Bonta is a Yale educated lawyer and a family man.  He is very smart, a quick thinker and able to see the potential consequences of particular legislative decisions.  I think he will be an excellent legislator – I also think he’s smart enough to recognize the perils of the political process and hopefully ethical enough to navigate around them.  If elected, I see Bonta having the potential to go all the way to the Governor’s mansion (or is it an apartment now?)  and even the White House.  Bonta seems to be the front runner so far.

Abel Guillen is the son of Mexican immigrants, a dishwasher and a cook and grew up in the Mission.  He is the American success story, through commitment and hard work he got into Berkeley with the goal of  “doing good, but also doing well”.  As the VP of a school finance firm, he will be able to navigate the State budget better than most and he has creative ideas about how to improve the economy – including the creation of a state bank – that merit consideration.  Guillen’s biggest strength, however, is his commitment to the community and his passion for achieving positive change.  He has a broad base of support, including nurses and teachers.

Joel Young is an African American attorney and also a Berkeley graduate.  He is running on a platform of  “jobs, jobs, jobs” but has little to say as to how to create them.  Some personal scandals and his reaction towards them don’t speak well of his character.  He is supported, however, by a significant segment of labor and the African American community.


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