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Get to Know State Assembly District 18 Candidates

State Assembly District 18 is the only significant political race being voted upon in Alameda with an incumbent running for reelection. The district encompasses all of Alameda, Emeryville, and a significant portion of Oakland.

Alameda Post - a poster that says CA State Assembly District 18 Candidates CA Primary March 5, 2024

Mia Bonta, Democrat, has held the office since winning a special election in 2021. The seat was vacated when her husband, Rob Bonta, was appointed as California’s Attorney General, replacing Kamala Harris, when she became Vice President. Mia Bonta was reelected in November 2022 with nearly 90% of the vote, after taking almost 100% of the vote in the June 2022 Primary election.

This year, Assemblymember Bonta is again being challenged again by her opponent from those elections, Republican Mindy Pechenuk. Two other candidates also joined the race this year, Republican Cheyenne Kenney, and Andre Sanford, listed in the voter guide as representing the American Independent Party, while his website states he is non-partisan.

As with other local races, the Alameda Post sent each of the candidates three questions about their candidacy: What is the priority or focus of the campaign, which unique skills and qualities would the candidate bring to the office, and what are the challenges and opportunities the candidate sees for the city of Alameda now and in the future? Only two responded—Assemblymember Bonta and returning challenger Pechenuk.

Alameda Post - Mia Bonta and Mindy Pechenuk
Left: Mia Bonta. File photo. Right: Mindy Pechenuk. Campaign website photo.

What is the focus of each campaign for CA 18 Assembly?

Pechenuk stated that her priority is to bring communities in the district together and bring solutions and a vision to the district’s problems. First, she declared she would attempt to end any “Green Agenda” policies, and direct resources into manufacturing, industry, water, nuclear power, and oil and gas, “to stop the hyperinflation.”

Pechenuk stated that crime and drugs are a problem that has exploded in the district. As a countermeasure, she suggests auditing banks for drug money and working with the federal government to shut down “offshore money centers, which run the majority of the drug cartels and human trafficking.” She also voiced support for repealing drug laws she feels favor criminals and recalling Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, and George Soros, philanthropist and Democratic donor who does not hold an office.

Pechenuk vowed to end “woke-ism” in California’s education with a two-tier system providing remedial attention and a strong curriculum in “classical music, art, and science.”

Additionally, the candidate promoted “programs to train our homeless who need new skills to be productive,” and a combination of inpatient drug and mental health care. Finally, Pechenuk vowed to end “woke-ism” in California’s education with a two-tier system providing remedial attention and a strong curriculum in “classical music, art, and science.”

In response to the Post’s questions, Assemblymember Bonta expressed her commitment to “improving our quality of life, addressing issues of affordability, and increasing access to quality healthcare, education, work, and housing.” She pointed to her work with AB-1837, which restricts evictions and curbs fraudulent property acquisition.

“I am also dedicated to bolstering community safety by tackling the root causes of crime and gun violence,” Bonta wrote. “I aim to support the local economy as a preventative measure against crime while fostering a sense of community ownership.” She offered a bill she authored, AB-2849, as an example. The bill, known as the “Promote Ownership by Workers for Economic Recovery Act,” encourages the growth of worker-owned business cooperatives, “addressing economic disparities, and empowering our community from within.”

Kenney did not respond to the Post’s questions, but her website lists protection of children, medical freedom, preservation of gas power, safer streets, and deregulation of business as the issues she will fight for. She states that she had “no choice but to step up in order to save her town, her district, and her state. The incompetence of our government officials have made it hard for us to even get by these days.”

Sanford, who also did not respond to candidate questions, also highlights five topics of concern on his campaign website—public safety, education, housing, reparations, and economic development. He indicated that education is a top priority, and that he chose to run “for State Assembly District 18 due to me and my family being assaulted by criminals in our district.”

“Alameda is at a crossroads, facing simultaneous challenges of an affordable housing crisis and the escalating threats of climate change,” wrote Bonta.

What sets each District 18 candidate apart?

Bonta chose education as her differentiating factor, stating, “I know firsthand the power of education as an anchor amidst change,” noting that she had once moved 13 times in 16 years. She mentioned her work leading Oakland Promise, and her commitment to educational equity. She also noted her intersectional identity as a Black Latina, along with her ability to advocate for an underrepresented perspective. She emphasized her collaboration with the community and her productivity, getting 16 bills passed in less than three years in the State Assembly.

Pechenuk also spoke of education, stating that she majored in music at Queens College in New York City and is a trained bassoonist and published music historian. “This gives me a background in developing a great education policy for our children,” she wrote. She listed several groups of which she was a founding member, including the National Anti-Drug Coalition and the California MAGA project. She also cited her efforts as an activist with Lyndon LaRouche and as an organizer for Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign. She is a member of the Alameda Republican Central Committee.

Alameda Post State Assembly District 18 candidates Kenney and Sanford
Left: Cheyenne Kenney. Campaign website photo. Right: Andre Sanford. Campaign website photo.

What do they see as Alameda’s challenges and opportunities?

“I have a vision for Alameda, which is a great city, which is why it is so important to shut down all the fentanyl and other drugs which are destroying our youth and others,” Pechenuk stated. She again advocated for more music and art programs in schools as well as vocational training. She also suggested encouraging more industrial companies, such as Astra or other space tech, to come to the city and recommended finding ways for them to collaborate with schools. She cited the city’s historical richness and her support for filling in vacant storefronts on Park Street.

“Alameda is at a crossroads, facing simultaneous challenges of an affordable housing crisis and the escalating threats of climate change,” wrote Bonta. She advocates for affordable, climate-resilient community developments. She cited AB 2318, which allocated 25% of housing built on surplus land at the Naval Air Station Alameda to lower-income households. She also gave as an example, AB 252, the legislation which limited rent increases for Alameda’s floating homes. The incumbent recognized her staff’s work with the Alameda Health System to ensure emergency preparedness, and supported Measure E, Alameda Unified School District’s bond measure on the March Ballot. “By addressing these issues proactively,” Bonta wrote, “we can shape a more inclusive and sustainable future for Alameda.”

Choose your candidate and vote on or before March 5

To learn more about candidates for California State Assembly District 18 before the primary election on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, check out the candidates’ campaign websites, which are linked in this article. Find out their positions and see who has endorsed them. Get election and voting information from our 2024 Alameda Election page. And watch the video below of the forum hosted by the League of Women Voters on February 13, 2024, featuring candidates Mindy Pechenuk and Andre Sanford.

Adam Gillitt is the Publisher of the Alameda Post. Reach him at [email protected]. His writing is collected at

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