April 28, 2015

Tuesday’s numbers show Rob Bonta’s lead in CA State Assembly seat for District 18

Rob Bonta is aiming to be the first Filipino-American Assembly member in the state of California.

As reported by the Piedmont Patch:

Alameda vice mayor Rob Bonta may soon be elected the new representative for the 18th Assembly District on Tuesday night.

This district includes San Leandro and Alameda with the largest bloc of voters living in Oakland.

Bonta got 50.79 percent of the vote, narrowly beating Abel Guillen, a trustee of the Peralta Community College District, who got 49.21 percent of the ballots as of last night. However, many uncounted ballots remain, such as absentees dropped off in person. The race could be tight enough to shift.

There was no incumbent in the race. The district was newly drawn after the 2010 census. It was also among the first contests in California to test the top-two primary system, in which the two highest vote getters, regardless of party, run off in the November election.

As a result, Bonta and Guillen, both Democrats, continue to run in a tight race. A total of 98,498 votes were cast so far. Bonta received just 1,558 more votes than Guillen.

Public Radio International’s The World presents a mixed view on their article on Filipino Americans Jennifer Ong and Rob Bonta


Recently, we’ve been introduced to the article of Jason Margolis of PRI’s The World, a global perspective read by American audiences. His story focuses on the Filipino American attempt of shedding what he saw was a disparity in their identity, from one which he describes as the “invisible minority,” to that of the Filipino American population that has been able to, or at least try to, make waves within the political sphere.

While the author recognizes the work of two current candidates, AAA-Fund-endorsed Rob Bonta and Dr. Jennifer Ong, of neighboring districts respectively, the candid approach of Mr. Margolis to idealize our political strides as the only way for Filipino Americans to be involved within the community is a little bit displeasing. While I truly agree that Rob and Jennifer are generating waves of change for our Filipino communities by possibly representing the first Filipino Americans in CA State Legislature, the article does present a small undermined sense that generations of Filipinos who have paved the way for these two candidates are not considered nor remembered. While Dr. Ong’s comments present a much more positive limelight, the article nixes Rob’s strong commitment to Filipinos and the AAPI community, sighting a seemingly misconstrued view that his campaign doesn’t focus on this historic moment for Filipinos.

As a strong supporter of Rob and his ethics, this abrupt lack of understanding at where he is coming from in his District 18 campaign is a bit of a shocker. While I don’t blame Mr. Margolis for his writing, I would like to defend Rob’s dedication to our communities and further tell our community members of the great lengths in which he has gone to defend the rights of AAPIs, especially Filipinos in gaining political and legal access as an attorney and a Vice Mayor of Alameda. His family has long worked with Filipino immigrants, creating programming that caters to our community needs, highlighting civic engagement as their goal, and arming Filipinos the understanding of how government works. While Mr. Margolis is indeed accurate of the stigma that Filipinos may have of politics from the skewed state of how our Philippine government may be working on, we can’t disregard the years of sacrifice and work Rob Bonta’s family has done through out the years before he even came close to running in public office.

So respectfully, I thank Mr. Margolis for allowing his readers to see what Rob Bonta and Jennifer Ong have been working on for the benefits of Filipinos, but I would also respectfully incline him to see the work that Rob has done far beyond the promises of his campaign. For actions speak louder than campaign rhetoric. Dr. Ong’s work is extraordinary. Rob’s work is unparalleled. But I believe that our candidates are far more than just their promises, but more so on their actions. So for us to shed our “invisible minority,” whatever that may entail, we must recognize the works of community leaders before the two standing in front of us now, celebrate the accomplishments of yesterday before we can even fathom at the opportunity of changing tomorrow.

— Jofil Borja

Rob Bonta endorsed by California Democratic Party for the November Election

One of Rob’s biggest endorsements came recently in the form of the California Democratic Party, with members of the Party voting with high confidence for Rob’s campaign. This is great news for the supporters of our efforts, and for District 18, as party leaders and former political figures have begun to strongly support Rob Bonta. But this isn’t an automatic victory for us. We still have to continue building our base- and with the November general election coming in with the storm of the Presidential election, we’re hoping to reach far larger numbers than the primaries.

 UPDATE: Rob Bonta has been endorsed by current Assembly Member Sandre Swanson, who will be terming out of service as the current assembly member for most of the district.

Quick updates…campaigning still goes on!

With more than a month since the thrilling end of last June’s California Assembly Primaries, many of the top two candidates and their campaigns head into the upcoming months with breathing rooms in their schedules. But while the phone lines and the precinct walks have taken a small break in between voting season, the candidates are steadily reforming their roots, and even though mobilization has dramatically slowed its pace, the campaigning still continues through fundraising efforts, and outreaches to receive nominations and endorsements.
Rob Bonta and the staff have continued to raise awareness and establish relationships with constituents through a series of events since June’s primary. We thanked our volunteers and voters and celebrated their efforts last month, and thoroughly asking them for continued patience and stronger support this November. While our calendar wasn’t as hectic as before (as of right now at least,) we still keep a busy schedule of meetings, fundraising dinners, and presentations to continue the dialogue and invite more people into supporting Rob’s efforts. We’ve since received a number of endorsements from key leaders in the Democratic Party, state leaders as well as local and state-wide organizations and community groups.
I’ve also followed Dr. Jennifer Ong’s campaign throughout their momentous rally last June. Dr. Ong continued her fundraising efforts last month, but also focused on community-wide events, connecting to her constituents. We continue to see her campaign’s growth, and hope for the best. If she wins, she will be the first Filipina-American Assembly member.

Please check out RobBonta.com to see an updated list of supporters and endorsements!

The other side of the Asian American Diaspora: Undocumented Immigration

When Jose Antonio Vargas first spoke out about his story as an undocumented immigrant almost a year ago, I found myself sitting in a desk at the Assembly member’s office, shuffling through legislative papers in a balancing act of answering phone calls and welcoming visitors. Amidst the fast pace setting of the office, I read Vargas’s story in the New York Times and found myself humbled and thankful of my status as a legal immigrant of this country. Here, in the capitol, where laws like immigration are made in California, reading an article about the challenging life of the frailty of the undocumented immigrant experience, I felt the eeriness and unfamiliarity of relating to Jose Antonio Vargas. From a fellow Filipino immigrant transplanted here in America to another, I connected with his story, and though my family emigrated here legally almost a decade ago, I knew what it was like to grow up in an unfamiliar country, struggling to find every glimpse of ethnic and national identity hidden within the depths of this brown flesh.
What touched me the most were his words: “I decided then that I could never give anyone reason to doubt I was an American. I convinced myself that if I worked enough, if I achieved enough, I would be rewarded with citizenship. I felt I could earn it.”
His story parallels many other untold tales of the Asian American experience. The other part of us who’ve find our journeys here in America through undocumented means and are still coping with the challenges of living in the states and treated sometimes as secondary citizens. While immigration is a third rail issue, it is something that we can never hide under the rug completely. It will eventually manifest itself through the stories of people we’ve cared for, respected and long admired, and it is then that we will realize what its like to face and confront this national issue. Today, more than ever, our country is faced with the challenge of creating an equitable immigration system. Only with empowered and educated citizens and politicans can we continue to collectively find solutions for this issue.

I urge you to read more about Jose Antonio Vargas and his story, featured in the New York Times, and most recently, in the Time Magazine. Only in familiarizing ourselves with the issue and the stories behind it, can we truly decide on this matter.
Jose Antonio Vargas is Filipino. He is the face of Asian Pacific Islander heritage, of every tale fathomed by the narrative of the American Dream- of finding purpose, hope and a new future in this country.


The road to success doesn’t end here


When Rob Bonta first sat down with his family to discuss running for the State Assembly, the young democrat knew that conjuring up such a crazy decision would be very difficult to defend. What started as one man’s vision to continue improving the lives of his district has taken a life on its own, and along with it, brought forth together the dreams and the hope of a community. We’ve championed Rob Bonta into our shoulders just as he has taken the enormous weight of running as a candidate to represent Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro.


The humble beginnings of our campaign traces its roots from the dinner table at the Bonta’s, where Rob found a way to convince his entire family of this challenging undertaking. Just as it takes a whole community to raise a child, it takes a network of communities with an underlying goal to raise a successful campaign and help elect a prospective leader who will not only bring forth change, but also embody our views to the table of power. There is no cliché in the belief that with great power comes great responsibility. Rob Bonta does not have super human powers. But even without superman’s physical prowess, Rob bears a heart that listens and a steady resolve that is maintained by his belief in improving the lives of people.


Today, I hope you can find a glimpse of what we had as a simple celebration last Tuesday to commemorate our hard-earned victory in the Assembly Primary for District 18. Friends, families, supporters and a few public servants and politicians visited our campaign office at Frank Ogawa Plaza last Tuesday night to share with the festivities, congratulating our team effort, but also bolstering our confidence of translating this victory to the polls in November. What we had that night was a family celebration- a time of which light food coupled with laughter and the sweet sense of victory after all our sacrifices paid off. Rob was of course, the highlight of our evening, but it was Jim Oddie, one of Rob’s best friends and strongest supporters, who gave the thankful speech, enumerating the short stories of every volunteer and helper at that room that gathered our hearts and melted it even more. We celebrate with our work, but we remember the sacrifices of every day that we worked hard to achieve this victory.


Now begins a new phase of our campaign. What started with a dream and a vision now rests on a promise that we, along side Rob Bonta, will continue working hard to elect the new Filipino-American Assembly Member of California. What we now look forward to is a week of resting and rejuvenating, but to also, plan and map out how to best utilize our campaign and translate our support into November. We will now look forward to achieving more local and state-wide endorsements and continue an array of fund-raising efforts. While we rest our weary feet from door-to-door canvassing for a few weeks and our phones from phonebanking, we will continue to spread Rob’s campaign into community events and re-establish a base of supporters for November. As a staff member for Rob, I will be responsible in partaking in these events, and utilizing my camera and social media to record and distribute updates from Rob these upcoming months.


Please continue listening for the updates from our campaign. I will also be updating in regards to some key races in Norther California featuring Asian Pacific Islander community leaders in other Assembly Districts. For now, we will be enjoying our victory in our preparation for the hard work ahead of us.


The night before the election

Hello everyone!
Sorry for having a slight break in my posts. It has been a busy and exciting three-day span that started this election week, and I couldn’t be happier to announce Rob Bonta’s victory as the front-runner in the District 18’s primary elections last Tuesday, June 5th! I am honored to be part of this historic moment to see the culmination of all the hard work, sacrifice and dedication of the whole Rob Bonta campaign staff and family to elect the first Filipino-American Assemblymember for the state of California.


Rob Bonta received 36.84% of the votes, making him the front-runner of this election. He will be facing Abel Guillen on the General Election this November.
I’ve taken some time to recuperate from the organized madness earlier this week. First, I want to thank the Asian American Action Fund, especially Gautam Dutta and Richard Chen for their guidance and the opportunity of allowing me to be part of this organization. I am thankful for their mentorship in this process, and their accessibility as resource for the blog.
No one worked harder than Rob Bonta himself at the dawn of this election. Calling voters, walking precincts, and spearheading a team of volunteers and staff, Rob, along with our campaign leaders, Jessica and Phil, masterfully crafted a plan of attack that efficiently utilized our staff.


So what does the calm before the storm look like for a California Assembly campaign? Monday, June 4th was a reality check for our whole staff. The profound weight of the anxiety rested heavily on our shoulders as our final preparations began. Phoning was our main priority to start the day, identifying key supporters that have committed to our campaign and kindly reminding them of Tuesday’s election. In checking with our supporters, we ensured to thank them of vote and held them in high regard and accountability. With a close race and an expected lower turn out, every vote mattered.


With a strong voter identification program, we were able to keep track of supporters and their precincts in the day of the election. As a whole staff, we planned to check polls throughout the whole day, ensuring our voters submit their ballots, offer them assistance if need be, and double-check that all precincts were up and running. Broken up into different teams, our main office’s briefing the night before embodied the command center of volunteers, staff, family members and friends.


With most of our planning done for the night. The staff took the night off and encouraged a full-cycle of sleep. Oh, and not to forget, did I mention that Rob donated blood before this big day? Rob sponsored a blood-drive in Alameda for the local Red Cross, making sure that he continues his work with the city even through these busy days!



Talk about literally bleeding for the community!

Understanding the Issues


With the dawn of our voting day approaching, I find it appropriate to take a step back from the madness of phoning, calling and precinct-walking to reflect a little bit on the three issues that have strongly affected the newly-drawn 18th Assembly district of California. Rob Bonta has decided to pursue these three as his focal point and platforms: education reform, safer streets and prosperous communities involving job and business creation. Throughout our campaign, Rob has strongly advocated for these platforms and have thoroughly listened to our supporters, constituents and local voters who’ve been vocal and adamant in improving the state of these three issues.


With the seat open in the 2012 Election due to term limits, the open primary on Tuesday will feature a tight race between three Democratic candidates and one Republican. While the current economic climate and Governor Brown’s budget proposal have been busier trends of discussion for the constituents we’ve contacted this week, the challenges in creating equitable education, improving local economy, and maintaining public safety still remain to be priorities for the people of Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro.

Rob’s diverse portfolio presents unquestionable experience in all three, and as a father and current Vice Mayor of Alameda, he brings within him a stronger array of public policy and decision-making that I feel is stronger than any of the other candidates. As the board president for the Social Service Human Relations Board in Alameda, Rob fought to protect safety net services for the most vulnerable members of the community. As a president for Alternatives in Action, a non-profit that expanded pre-school and afterschool learning opportunities and life skills for the youth of Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro, Rob saw the necessity of giving the students the resources and opportunities he had when he was younger, as a similar product of public school education. Rob was also the Chair of the City of Alameda’s Economic Development Commission, where he focused on business attraction and business retention efforts.
Today, I’ll prioritize problems in access to public school education and college education.

I deeply care about public schools and I strongly support Rob’s efforts in improving the educational opportunities for Californians regardless of every child’s social, economic or ethnic background. To improve public education, Rob feels strongly that the state’s public school finance system is broken and needs to be fixed so that all of California’s children are given the learning opportunities they deserve. Rob is very proud that his two daughters, Reina and Iliana Bonta are plaintiffs in the Robles-Wong vs. California lawsuit, which challenges the state of California’s public school finance system. He believes that the state has an obligation to provide the resources necessary to meet the required standards for students to succeed, but has failed to do so. The lawsuit asks the state to remedy this dire problem and to ensure that children in the East Bay and throughout the state receive the financing they need to receive high quality education. California has now since fallen in the bottom rung of public school funding per student in comparison to the rest of the nation.

What can be done to control the costs of college education? Rob fought for school funding increases both locally and statewide. In strongly advocating for Measure A in Alameda, he was able to help it pass, bringing an additional $84 million in revenue for East Bay schools. Rob believes we should explore a minimum funding guarantee for colleges and universities. We have to reform governance at the UC and prevent student fee hikes as part of a broader reform package.

With less than 48 hours before Tuesday, I’ll be advocating relentlessly for Rob, echoing his belief in education. I hope that you can follow me for the next hours and see glimpses of what its like to be in crunch time for our campaign.

The many faces of our campaign


Our campaign has been gaining momentum! Growing steadfast in the last few weeks, we’ve phone-banked, walked precincts and knocked on constituents’ doors and spread awareness about Rob Bonta through social media and various events. On daily basis, you’ll see working adults of different backgrounds, college students and kids helping Rob each step of the way. Seeing Rob’s efforts and drive strengthens our accord; he is with us day-to-day, calling, walking and spreading awareness. Hand-in-hand, we feel motivated to see our candidate work with us day-in and day-out.


Our office has become more than just the rendezvous for our campaign; it has turned into a second home for many of our frequent volunteers, and a welcoming atmosphere for those recently joining our efforts for Rob. We’ve opened our headquarters to new members of our family, from seasoned staff sharing their experiences with the new volunteers, to our parents’ home-cooked dinners that make each night much more memorable. Our campaign is run by different thoughts, life stories and perspectives, intersecting into goals of more than just electing Rob, but ensuring that we engage our constituents to participate in the democratic process- reminding them of their absentee ballots, of becoming informed about the issues, and empowering them to use their responsibility to vote.


Rob’s campaign has welcomed us all to an extended family. His children inject us with youthful energy and excitement. From his wife and kids, his mom and mother-in-law, we all collectively share hours everyday partaking in our daily duties of calling, walking and various activities to create an efficient campaign.


Phil Abrahams, our volunteer coordinator is an organizational genius; his strong work ethic motivates us to keep phoning, and his personable and positive approach to every situation makes every call less challenging. Sometimes, we can come across to constituents disinterested about our conversations on voting, but Phil continues to work with our volunteers, sharing with them different approaches in making sure we can connect to voters and not just ask for their support for Rob, but to create conversations with which they are educated as stakeholders in each of the issues facing our district. Whether it is education, job creation, or public safety, voters become much more interested for we are not just soliciting support, we are informing them of real issues and allowing them to understand what they can do as members of their community.


With just a handful of days away, our concentrated effort remains strong! This time is critical and we’re ready for our final push!


Meet Rob Bonta

Editor’s Note: We proudly introduce Jofil Borja as the recipient of our 2nd Fellowship (read more about our 1st Fellowship) as attached to Rob Bonta‘s campaign. Jofil is a Political Science and Rhetoric Double Major from UC Berekely. Jofil has worked with many community organizations in Sacramento & Berkeley, in the California State Capitol for Assembly Member Warren Furutani and the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, Jofil works to bridge the gap between API public interest laws and lobbying. Read more of Jofil’s posts.

Rob Bonta walk

My first involvement with Rob Bonta came with the helpful hands of his mother, Cynthia. Pleasantly encouraging us to connect a few months back, Cynthia invited me to meet her son last Fall, pushing for Rob to navigate through his busy nights and intersect with my fledgling college schedule. For Rob to set time with me on a long night of politics and goal-setting despite his full itinerary must’ve required masterful calendaring and scheduling. Yet even to this day, it amazes me that Rob manually sets his own agendas, balancing a calendar of a deputy city attorney for San Francisco, a Vice Mayor of Alameda, and continuing to be a great father of his family on his one hand, while holding in the other, the challenging task of running a campaign in the newly-drawn 18th Assembly District of California. I’ve followed Rob Bonta’s work since the inception of his leadership in the Alameda City Council, but that night of getting to know his passion for the community made me respect him even more. I’m so thankful for Cynthia for her continuous support and for that spark that helped me get involved with Rob’s campaign.

Rob exudes far more than just leadership and political knowledge; his goals in education, public safety, and prosperous communities aren’t just promises, they represent the continuation of a life-long journey of public service. From the humble roots of his family’s work with the United Farm Workers movement, through his early career in law that was predicated in protecting the rights of racial minorities in California, Rob exemplifies the new face of leadership we need in Sacramento. He brings with him the collective narrative and the diversity of the people he has helped, experiencing first-hand what it is like to be a person of color, to be a working Californian in the face of economic adversity, and to be a father of three, at a time where our goals in education and public safety for our children seem to be undermined by the very leaders we’ve hoped to represent our needs.

Today, I ask you to meet and read about Rob Bonta. His track record and sacrifices to public service reaches far more than just this blog, it stands for the commitment that no longer will our elected officials turn away from the people who’ve they helped all along before their start in office. Rob will continue to bring not only his experience to District 18, but his canvas full of stories and people, colored with the palette of their diverse needs, but painted with the brush strokes of hard work and dedication. Please join me in this journey with Rob Bonta, and help us elect someone that will exemplify the ever-changing struggles of Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro.