Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Political Notebook: Low becomes youngest out legislator in CA history


Assemblyman-elect Evan Low
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Gay Campbell City Councilman Evan Low made history Tuesday night by winning a state Assembly seat to become the youngest out legislator in California history.

At 31, Low is also the youngest Asian American to be elected to the Legislature's lower chamber. The rising Democratic politician easily won the 28th Assembly District seat covering portions of west San Jose and several Peninsula cities.

Low, whose boss Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Cupertino) currently holds the seat but is termed out this fall, bested his Republican opponent, Saratoga Councilman Chuck Page, with 58 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns Wednesday morning. Due to a change in the state's term limits law, Low potentially could serve 12 years in the Assembly seat.

So assured of his victory in the race, Low's campaign issued a statement to reporters at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, just two hours after the polls opened, declaring he had won.

"I am honored to have earned the support, trust and confidence of the voters in Silicon Valley to send me to Sacramento," stated Low. "My focus in our Capitol will be on partnership over partisanship. Thank you again for allowing me to continue my public service."

When he takes his oath of office in December, Low will likely be joining a diminished California Legislative LGBT Caucus. Two of the caucus' current eight members – gay Assemblymen John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles), who had served as speaker, and Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) – are leaving due to term limits.

And it appears that gay San Francisco Supervisor David Campos, who was Ammiano's pick to succeed him, could be headed to defeat. As of Wednesday morning Campos was trailing his straight opponent, Supervisor David Chiu, in the bitterly fought contest. (See story, page 1.)

Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman. Photo: Rick Gerharter

The three incumbent out Assembly members on Tuesday's ballot all easily sailed to victory. In the 24th Assembly District race on the Peninsula, gay Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park) defeated his opponent, Republican Diane Grabl , with 68 percent of the vote to capture his third and final two-year term.

Lesbian Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) bested her GOP challenger, Barbara Decker, with 60 percent of the vote for her final two-year term representing the 78th Assembly District.

And lesbian Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) won re-election with 60 percent of the vote against her challenger, Republican Sol Jobrack , to a second two-year term in the 13th Assembly District seat in the Central Valley,

As expected, the lone gay GOP Assembly candidate on the ballot Tuesday, Los Angeles lawyer Brad Torgan, was unable to defeat incumbent Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), who claimed victory with 71 percent of the vote for a second term representing the 50th Assembly District covering West Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Malibu.


Nicole David won a seat on the San Mateo County Harbor Commission. Photo: Courtesy Nicole David

Bi woman ousts gay harbor district commissioner

In the race for two four-year terms on the San Mateo County Harbor Commission, gay incumbent commissioner Robert Bernardo failed to win re-election to a second term. While his colleague, James Tucker, won re-election, the top vote winner in the race based on unofficial returns Wednesday morning was bisexual marine biologist Nicole David .

David captured 31 percent and Tucker received 23.54 percent of the vote in the six-person race for the two seats up for grabs. Wednesday morning David posted a photo of a beach with the words "Thank You" scrawled in the sand onto her Facebook page.

"My sincerest thanks to all my family, friends and supporters who helped me win this important race," wrote David, who was supported by lesbian harbor commissioner Sabrina Brennan in the heated contest. "Many thanks for helping me spread the word and for giving me the support that kept me going. I feel extremely proud to have had your backing and guidance along the way."

Bernardo, the focus of negative attacks that painted him as unsuited for the commission, fell short by 338 votes to land in third place with 23.21 percent.

He conceded at roughly 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, taking to Facebook to thank his supporters and to congratulate the winners of the "hard-fought campaign."

"Serving the community in an elected capacity has always been a dream of mine, and I still can't believe that I am one of the lucky few who got to actually live that dream. Being a politician was a lot of fun and a lot of responsibility," wrote Bernardo. "It was an honor to also serve as the county's first openly gay, Filipino, Jewish elected official – and there may never be another one who fits in all three categories at the same time!"


Out candidates losing in East Bay special districts

In a number of races for special districts in the East Bay, out candidates were losing their contests, according to the latest vote tallies Wednesday morning.

Gay Oakland resident Richard Fuentes lost his bid for the Peralta Community College District board's Area 7 seat. He placed second with 47.51 percent behind the winner of the race, Julina Bonilla, who garnered 51.42 percent of the vote, to succeed Abel Guillen , who identifies as Two Spirit and won an Oakland City Council seat Tuesday night. (See story, page 3.)

Marguerite Young, a lesbian single mom running for the Ward 3 seat on the East Bay Municipal Utility District board, appears headed for defeat in her race against the incumbent, Katy Foulkes, who was holding on to a 147-vote lead as of Wednesday morning.

Dollene Jones, a lesbian running for the AC Transit board's at-large seat, also came up short, placing second in her race with roughly 30 percent of the vote.

It was not a total wash for out candidates running in down ticket races Tuesday. Valerie Cuevas, a lesbian running for the West Contra Costa school board, was among the top finishers for three seats on the district's governing body. With 13.24 percent of the vote, Cuevas was holding on to the third spot in the race with a 944-vote advantage over the fourth place finisher.

Bisexual EBMUD Board Member Andy Katz was unopposed for his Ward 4 seat.

And queer Berkeley Rent Board candidate James Chang won Tuesday, as he was one of five candidates seeking five seats on the oversight panel. He placed second in the race with 20.63 percent of the vote.


Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check Monday mornings at noon for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column looked at two voter guides sent to LGBT households in CA.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @

Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail

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