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Former Obama adviser announces campaign for Tony Thurmond's assembly seat

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JUNE 07, 2017

Buffy Wicks, a former White House official and adviser to former president Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, announced last week her intent to run for the California 15th State Assembly District seat in 2018.

Wicks, who currently lives in Oakland, touts a background as a community organizer and helped to develop Obama’s 2008 and 2012 grassroots campaign-organizing model. She later served in the Obama Administration as deputy director in the Office of Public Engagement.

More recently, Wicks has advocated for a variety of child care policies as the director of the Common Sense Kids Action California Kids Campaign.

“The November election was an awakening for me. I thought about what kind of country do I want my child to live in,” Wicks said. “California has the unique opportunity to put into law bold progressive public policies.”

Wicks said as an assembly member, she would focus on continuing to work on “issues that impact women and families,” including paid leave and affordable child care. Wicks added as a former community college student, she is a “big believer in expanding access to education and ensuring college affordability and access.”

Wicks said she would also advocate for single-payer healthcare in the state and increasing affordable housing throughout the district.

Wicks’s campaign announced Wicks had been endorsed by Senator Kamala Harris, according to a Friday campaign press release. Wicks said she was thrilled to have an endorsement from “a progressive champion for California.”

“Her commitment to build a parent-powered movement to advocate for California kids shows what kind of leader she is: one who doesn’t just use her voice to speak up, but empowers others to do the same,” Harris said of Wicks in the press release.

State Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, who currently represents California’s 15th district, announced his intent in April to run for State Superintendent for Public Instruction.

Three candidates besides Thurmond have filed statements of intent to run for the 15th Assembly district seat in 2018, including Wicks, Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb and Richmond City Councilmember Jovanka Beckles. Both Kalb and Beckles cited the “housing affordability crisis” as a major issue facing the district they hoped to address.

Beckles said Wicks’ announcement was, for her, “a surprise to hear.”

“Here’s a candidate that just moved into our district a year ago with no track record of providing legislation that improves the quality of life for this assembly district,” Beckles said. “I encourage people to look at (candidates’) track records — what have they actually done for residents of this district?”

Caiden Nason, president of Cal Berkeley Democrats, said his organization has not yet endorsed any candidate for the upcoming race but was excited to see the California 15th district race be competitive.

“This is exactly what we wanted to see,” Nason said. “It looks like it’s shaping up to be one of the most contentious races in the country.”

Bobby Lee is an assistant news editor. Contact Bobby Lee at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @bobbylee_dc.

APRIL 11, 2018