We are still 15 months from the 2016 State Primary, but former State Assemblymember Mariko Yamada on Saturday formally began her campaign for State Senate, 2016, to represent the 3rd District, comprised of Solano and Napa counties, and portions of Contra Costa, Sacramento, Sonoma and Yolo counties.
Ms. Yamada, a professional social worker and former Yolo County Supervisor, enters the race with four decades of experience at the federal, state and local levels and a wide coalition of support.
“In the past 100 days since the conclusion of my Assembly service, I am grateful for the encouragement I have received from so many friends and supporters,” Mariko Yamada said. “After hearing from the community, consulting with advisors and having the full support of my family, I am announcing today that I am a candidate for the 2016 open seat in California’s 3rd Senate District.”
The announcement by Ms. Yamada comes a mere three months after her six-year tenure in the Assembly ended when she was termed out. She was replaced in the Assembly by Bill Dodd from Napa. Mr. Dodd won a contentious primary over fellow Democrats Dan Wolk and Joe Krovoza, out distancing Republican Charlie Schaupp for the seat in November.
Ms. Yamada’s announcement figures to increase speculation that Mr. Dodd will forgo the remaining 10 years on his Assembly term and run for the Senate seat that will be vacated in 2016, when longtime Senator Lois Wolk is termed out. Under that theory, Dan Wolk, the son of Senator Wolk, would run for Mr. Dodd’s Assembly seat.
However, Ms. Yamada figures to be more than formidable. In announcing her candidacy, Ms. Yamada also released the names of dozens of elected officials and community leaders who are endorsing her, including State Controller Betty Yee, State Treasurer John Chiang, State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, former State Treasurer and State Senator Bill Lockyer, former State Senator Noreen Evans, former Assemblymember Wes Chesbro, and dozens of other state and local officials and citizens. (A full list can be found online here.)
In 2008, Ms. Yamada, then a Yolo County Supervisor, was a prohibitive underdog against West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, but in a brutal primary campaign Ms. Yamada, with the help of independent expenditures and massive amounts of labor manpower, stunned Mr. Cabaldon to win the seat and held it easily for the duration of her tenure.
Ms. Yamada represented both the former 8th Assembly District and the 4th Assembly District from 2008 – 2014, which includes 80 percent of Senate District 3. During that time, Yamada was known as an outspoken advocate for the protection of agriculture and water resources, veterans, vulnerable elders, the mentally ill and persons with disabilities and their caregivers throughout the state. She has been a consistent and insistent voice on the preservation of prime farmland and is opposed to the Delta tunnels.
As a Yolo County Supervisor, Ms. Yamada worked to protect agriculture, open space and local water resources; to expand services to seniors and persons with disabilities; and to push back on unsafe development.
Throughout her time in public service and as a social worker, Mariko Yamada has worked hard to engage all members of our community to forge common solutions to shared problems and to create new opportunities.
“I am proud of what we’ve accomplished to turn things around in California, but I know we’re not done yet,” said Ms. Yamada. “We need experienced and energetic leadership to continue to recover from some of the most difficult times our State and Nation have experienced. I’m running for State Senate to build upon the work I did in the Assembly, to make sure we’re standing up for the middle class and small businesses throughout California, protecting the most vulnerable, improving our schools, colleges and universities and defending the Delta and the environment.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting