- The loss deprives the 29-year-old Indian American social justice lawyer of the chance to make history as the first Indian American LGBTQ woman to serve in the state assembly.
Mia Bonta, president of the Alameda Unified School District board and CEO of the nonprofit Oakland Promise, has declared victory over her opponent social justice lawyer Janani Ramchandran in the Aug. 31 runoff election for the Assembly District 18 in California. The latest results by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, Bonta received 56% of the vote, while Ramachandran got 44% and was trailing by 7,761 votes.
Ramachandran, 29, 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. She hasn’t yet conceded, but Bonta took to Twitter to claim victory to replace the seat vacated by her husband, California Attorney General Rob Bonta. The 18th Assembly seat covers parts of Alameda, Oakland and San Leandro.
“While the window for our campaign has certainly narrowed, I am mindful of our commitment as Democrats to make sure every vote counts,” Ramachandran said in a statement per the San Francisco Chronicle. “To live up to that ideal we should count every vote before we make final declarations.”
The San Francisco Chronicle reported on Sept. 2 that the Bonta campaign estimates “that roughly 13,000 ballots remain to be counted and that Bonta’s lead was enough for the candidate to claim victory.” Her victory robbed Ramchandran the chance to make history as the first Indian American LGBTQ woman to serve in the California State Assembly.
In a tweet on Sept. 1, Ramachandran tweeted: “We took on the political establishment & the giant corporations backing them. We built a movement for bold change. Now we await the results. There are about 30k ballots left to be counted & although we’re currently down by 4k votes, we absolutely have a chance at winning this.”
On Aug. 31, election day, in a series of tweets, she made the final push to her constituents.
“This is it, y’all. Today, I invite you to the power of your vote to choose change. Not just gradual, incremental change – but radical, transformative action.”
In another post, she wrote: “I got into this race because I’m done waiting for politicians and corporations to decide to do the right thing for our community. It will NEVER happen because the right thing and the profitable thing are never one in the same.”
“We are celebrating,” read a post. “Running a corporate-free campaign is not easy but y’all made it so much simpler through your activism, dedication & willingness to challenge business as usual. So tonight we are celebrating YOU.”
Her last tweet that day was sent about three weeks before the polls closed. “3 HOURS TILL POLLS CLOSE! Have you cast your ballot yet?”
Ramachandran, whose campaign has received more than $460,000 mostly from individuals, has received endorsements from U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Fremont, state Assemblymember Alex Lee, D-San Jose, City of Alameda Democratic Club (CADC), and the Oakland Tenants Union, among others.
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.
She 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, she helpedy 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.