- If elected, the 29-year-old social justice lawyer would be the first Indian American LGBTQ woman to serve in the California State Assembly.
Social justice lawyer Janani Ramachandran has advanced to the August 31 runoff race for the East Bay’s 18th Assembly District seat. According to the Alameda County election website, Ramachandran, a social justice attorney, is placed second with 14,006 or 23.65 percent votes. Alameda Unified School Board President Mia Bonta is ahead of Ramachandran with 22,516 or 38.02 percent votes. The 18th Assembly seat covers parts of Alameda, Oakland and San Leandra.
If elected, Ramachandran, a Democrat, would be the first Indian American LGBTQ woman to serve in the California State Assembly. Currently, Assemblymember Ash Kalra is the lone Indian American in the state Legislature. She currently serves on the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs and stepped down from the Oakland Public Ethics Commission to run for office.
“I want to thank each and every one of you who believed in me when the odds were stacked against us,” tweeted Ramachandran on July 1. “Thank you for believing that our grassroots movement for justice is winnable because fearless progressive change is what our District wants and deserves.”
In another tweet, she wrote: “I entered this race because I was tired of waiting for politicians to make the change we need. We need to make the change we need – starting with a $22/hr living wage, Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, stronger tenant protections, and true criminal justice reform.”
As per her website, Ramachandran’s grandparents immigrated to California in 1970. She moved to India as a teenager, and at age 16, she founded a nonprofit that built libraries in under-resourced schools in her local community.
At 16, while relocating to India for a few years, she founded a nonprofit that built libraries in under-resourced schools in her local community. After graduating from Stanford University, Janani worked as a home-visiting case manager at a community health clinic, serving immigrant mothers experiencing domestic violence and homelessness.
An East Bay native, Ramachandran, studied international relations at Stanford University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. After graduating from Stanford, the East Bay native worked as a case manager for low-income immigrant mothers and founded a domestic violence advocacy program across five community health clinics. It was that work that led her to Berkeley Law School.
Ramachandran served as a tenant’s rights advocate while in law school, representing tenants who faced eviction in Oakland. She represented a large number of women with children who were being forced out of their homes due to domestic violence situations.
Similarly, Ramachandran aided several small businesses attempting to get loans through the federal Paycheck Protection Program. The first round of funding in April 2020 was quickly gobbled up by larger entities, many of them backed by venture capital. Subsequent rounds of funding attempted to address the imbalance, prioritizing micro-businesses with fewer than 20 employees.