Letter to the editor: Support James Coleman for State Assembly


Now that ballots have dropped and June 7 is around the corner, the California State Assembly faces the opportunity to advance democratization and change the course of the state’s legislature. California is tackling countless issues, like climate change, skyrocketing house prices, high poverty rates, and new threats of COVID-19 surges. Skyline students and community college students around the state are facing a lack of funding for key programs, while our teachers and staff are not being compensated fairly for the work they do to support us. The legislature must know how to best address these concerns, and such work can only be accomplished by candidates who are well-equipped and prepared for the task.

James Coleman, who is in the running for a seat to represent District 21, is an ideal candidate for handling the issues facing California today. Born and raised in San Mateo County, Coleman knows what it is like to be a part of the working class and see the needs of his community not be met by our government. He saw how his family was impacted after his father was paralyzed when James was five, which motivated him to study biology, which sparked an eagerness to learn how to make the government and our medical system work for everyone, and not just the wealthy. He earned a degree in Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology and Government from Harvard University. As the City of South San Francisco’s youngest ever and first openly LGBTQ+ council member, James Coleman has organized with Sunrise Movement Boston, the Harvard Undergraduates for Environmental Justice, Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard, and YDSA.

I personally support James because of the grassroots movement he effectively mobilized before he started running for office and how he has used that movement while in office to bring real change to his constituents. James is best-equipped to represent the working-class immigrant community he grew up in at the state level because he has firsthand knowledge of the struggles everyday Californians face. This attentiveness to the needs of his community was evident in last week’s AFT Teach-In on the Politics of Funding Education, where he broke down the sources that contribute to funding Skyline. The grassroots movement that James has worked with will help us to make long-term change that empowers our community and lasts beyond a single candidate or a single election.

As someone who has been impacted by the yearly smoke and fires our state faces, I know that we need a climate champion representing us in Sacramento. I trust James to take on the climate crisis because of his previous work in local environmental policy, which includes South City’s passage of the strongest environmental reach code for new building construction that the county has enforced. Since he is the only candidate not taking any corporate money, I feel very confident that James will make climate justice a priority in the Capitol by implementing the California Green New Deal, which will support workers and build sustainable infrastructure as we transition to a clean energy economy.

I urge Skyline students to support James because of his tenacity and willingness to fight for issues that students care about, including affordable housing, college affordability and student debt relief, universal healthcare, tenants’ rights, and fossil fuel divestment. As a youth organizer for Project Super Bloom, an organization dedicated to building a movement of young people to elect progressive members of the state assembly, I know that sending a young person to Sacramento will set a precedent that will allow for generational change. As more of Gen-Z reaches the voting age, we have the opportunity to change the course of American politics, and it starts by having our voices heard loud and clear in our local government.

Students can have a huge impact on this election by volunteering, either virtually or in person. This is especially crucial in competitive primaries, which is what is expected to happen on June 7. Every volunteer can reach hundreds of voters, and since this is a close race, it could come down to a few hundred votes. This type of mobilization is important for James because he does not have huge corporate donors to blanket the airwaves with ads, so he is relying on grassroots volunteers to reach every voter. To sign up to volunteer for James, visit tinyurl.com/JCvol.

We need to confront the issues that face working-class Californians by electing a candidate that will fight for our community because he’s lived our struggles firsthand and has a track record of improving the lives of San Mateo County residents. We need to send James Coleman to Sacramento to fight for the people of Assembly District 21.