In what figures to be among the more intriguing races around the state, Former Assemblymember Mariko Yamada is taking on current Assemblymember Bill Dodd. Yesterday, Ms. Yamada, candidate for California State Senate District 3, announced the support of the California Democratic Legislative Women’s Caucus, which includes 19 Assemblymembers and State Senators throughout California, and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (Ret. – CA-06 – Sonoma).
According to her release, these are just the latest of the statewide and state legislative Democratic leaders who are backing Mariko Yamada’s campaign for State Senate. Ms. Woolsey and the Women’s Caucus join the growing list of supporters, including Congressman John Garamendi, State Controller Betty Yee, State Treasurer John Chiang, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, former Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, California Nurses Association, CA Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, Los Rios College Federation of Teachers/AFT 2279 PAFC, UC-AFT Local 2023-UC Davis, and local elected officials and community leaders throughout the district.
Mariko Yamada said of the new endorsements, “As a Member of the CA Legislative Women’s Caucus during my six years in the Assembly, I am grateful for this early endorsement from my Democratic women colleagues as I seek to return to the Legislature. Their thoughtful deliberations on budget priorities and policy advocacy for women and girls is well-known.”
She added, “To have also earned Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey’s support is a high honor. She has been a tireless champion for women’s equality and advocate for gender pay equity, access to women’s healthcare and affordable childcare throughout her career. I look forward to collaborating with these leaders in the State Senate.”
The announcement comes just over a month after Bill Dodd, who won the Assembly seat in 2014 from which Mariko Yamada was termed out, announced he would challenge her for the Senate Race.
In 2008, then-Yolo County Supervisor Mariko Yamada faced long odds in the battle for the open Assembly Seat against West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon. No one gave her much of a chance, and yet, at the end of a hotly contested and contentious battle, she prevailed in a vote that was not even particularly close.
Ms. Yamada has often described herself as almost the accidental candidate. She had taken a position as Chief Deputy Supervisor to Dave Rosenberg, and when Mr. Rosenberg was appointed by recalled Governor Gray Davis to be a Yolo County Superior Court judge on October 3, 2003, Ms. Yamada was appointed to be his successor as Yolo County Supervisor. She then almost immediately had to be elected in her own right in the spring of 2004.
Four years later, in 2008, it was the seat vacated by Assemblymember Lois Wolk that Mariko Yamada won. Now she will have to face sitting Assemblymember Bill Dodd and probably others for the Senate seat that the same Lois Wolk is vacating. As was the case in 2008, Ms. Wolk is endorsing Ms. Yamada’s opponent.
Ms. Yamada told the Vanguard that, when she entered the Assembly, “the district and our country were pretty much at the brink of collapse.” She described the first three years of her term as “really an emergency situation. The last year or two that I was privileged to serve when things had gotten a little better, but there was so much unfinished business that I felt the need to continue and that’s why we’ve decided to run.”
Mariko Yamada does not believe that the two years off she will have taken will harm her with the voters. “We have been very transparent about running. We announced March 14 and we have had discussions even in the last year of my Assembly term that this was the direction we were going,” Ms. Yamada told the Vanguard.
She added, “We are confident that the so-called gap years can be used to an advantage. There are a lot of pressing issues that when you are in office that is the primary responsibility.” Now, she has “the opportunity to really engage the citizens on the ground,” attending meetings and activities that she wouldn’t have been able to while in office.
Back in April, the she announced the support of a number of key local and statewide leaders.
Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) said, “Serving alongside Mariko, you learn that she is a person of her word, and one who cares deeply about her constituents and the future of all Californians. We need her passion and commitment to social and environmental justice in the California Senate.”
“Mariko is a lifelong public servant whose values in community service are second to none. She was a strong advocate for Yolo County during her six years in the State Assembly, particularly on issues affecting seniors and veterans. Her experience spans both coasts, northern and southern California, and the local, state, and federal levels,” said Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza (District 4). “With her background and commitment to serving her constituents, she is ready to assume the complex responsibilities of a California State Senator. I am proud to support her.”
“Mariko Yamada has been a champion for seniors, the disabled, veterans and the most vulnerable members of our community. She doesn’t do what’s politically easy – she does what’s right,” said State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “I support Mariko because I know that she’ll always be a voice for those who need it the most.”
“I’m very thankful for the outpouring of early support for our campaign over the past month since I announced my candidacy,” said Ms. Yamada at the time. “As an Assemblymember and Yolo County Supervisor, I’ve been proud to be a voice for this region on key issues. As State Senator, I’ll be ready to roll up my sleeves and continue to help families, small businesses, farmers, seniors, the disabled and veterans get the support they need to have the best chance to succeed.”
According to her release, Mariko Yamada represented the 8th Assembly District and the 4th Assembly District from 2008 – 2014, which includes most 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 water resources. She also served as a Yolo County Supervisor from 2003 – 2008.
State Senate District 3 includes Solano and Napa Counties and portions of Contra Costa, Sacramento, Sonoma and Yolo Counties.