Alameda Vice Mayor in Race for Assembly

Alameda Vice Mayor in Race for AssemblyArticle by E. Francis B. Espiritu Jr. of the Philippine News

ALAMEDA, Calif. – Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta has announced candidacy for the California State Assembly in 2012, representing California’s 16th assembly district, which comprises Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro.

Bonta is a Democrat.

If elected to the California State Assembly, Bonta believes he will be able to make decisions that will positively impact the Filipino community of California. He believes that the Filipino Americans need a voice to champion them in Sacramento.

“(It is) critical for Filipinos to see Filipino leaders at the highest levels of leadership,” Bonta told Philippine News. “Seeing so makes it possible to server at the highest levesl of public office.”

By working with different Filipino organizations such as Filipino Advocates for Justice, Bonta has been able to show his support for and by the Filipino American community.

A look at the California legislative body, as well as the Congress of the united states, reflects the population. With the Chinese community being the most populous among the Asian American communities, it is only fair that they have elected officials in the California legislature as well as the United States Congress. So with Filipinos being the second most populous Asian group in the United States, why is it that Filipinos have no representation in the U.S. Congress and the California legislature?

Benjamin Cayetano’s election as governor of Hawaii in 1994 to 2002 was a real milestone. He was the first Filipino American to serve as head of state in the United States There have been other milestones as well: When Mona Pasquil was appointed as lieutenant governor of California, pending the confirmation of Abel Maldonado, and when Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye was sworn in as the California Supreme Court Chief Justice.

With Bonta, a Filipino American member of the state legislature may be more possible today.

Bonta was born into a family that taught him the value and importance of public service. His parents waorked with the United Farm Workers, as well as the Civil Rights movement in the South, as he grew up in the greater Sacramento area.

Upon finishing high school, he attended Yale and played soccer for the school team. He graduated with honors, earning a degree in history, and then received the Henry Fellowship Scholarship which is awarded to four students, one each coming from Yale, Harvard, Oxford, and Cambridge University.

Later he took up economics and politics for a year at Oxford. Upon his return to Yale, he pursued a degree in law. In his third year as a law student, he applied and was accepted for a clerkship with Judge Alvin Thompson of the United States District Court in Connecticut.

Upon finishing his clerkship with Judge Thompson, and finishing his final year in law school, Rob Bonta married his wife whom he met at Yale. From there, he moved back to California and worked for the law firm of “Keker and Van Nest” from 1999-2003. Soon after, he moved to the San Francisco City Attorney’s office, where he still serves as deputy City Attorney.

“Once I moved to the City Attorney’s office, I was able to make a bigger commitment to volunteer for the city of Alameda,” Bonta said. He began his service to Alameda as the board president for both the Social Service Human Relations Board, and the Alternatives in Action Board. He was also an elected member of the Alameda Health Care District Board of Directors, where he had a key role in stabilizing Alameda Hospital’s finances. He also served as Chair of the City of Alameda’s Economic Development Commission. From there he was elected to the Alameda City Council, and was appointed Vice-Mayor from there.

Bonta’s supporters hope to see Filipinos banding together and supporting their advocates. They believe his candidacy is the catalyst that will open the door for many Filipino Americans into public service.