Assemblywoman Bonilla announces bid for State Senate seat, Piepho won’t yet commit

Susan Bonilla

Susan Bonilla

Deputy Sheriffs, firefighters quickly endorse

By Allen Payton

On Tuesday, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, a Democrat, announced her intention to enter the special election contest to succeed State Senator Mark DeSaulnier in California’s 7th State Senate district. A special election is expected to take place in early 2015 after DeSaulnier, who was elected to Congress this year, resigns the seat.

Bonilla currently represents California’s 14th State Assembly District, which had included Antioch until the 2011 redistricting, and has previously served as a Contra Costa County Supervisor and as the Mayor and a Council Member in Concord, the largest city in the State Senate district.

I’m running for Senate to continue working for Contra Costa and Alameda residents, families, and small business owners in the Legislature. Working with a broad, diverse coalition, I am proud of what we have accomplished; turning a historic budget deficit into a balanced budget with a rainy day fund; revitalizing our economy through job creation and economic development; and reinvesting in our schools. I will continue focusing on these efforts in the State Senate, building coalitions to deliver results for my constituents,” Bonilla said. “Senator DeSaulnier is an outstanding public servant who has set a high standard and will be a dynamic member of Congress. As I begin my campaign for State Senate, I will look to his example and continue his fight to improve our transportation system and protect our environment, while always putting middle-class and working families first.”

Bonilla had already planned to run for State Senate in 2016, but DeSaulnier’s election to Congress in the middle of his term moved up the schedule on her.

The process will be triggered by DeSaulnier’s resignation, which is expected before January 5, that day he is scheduled to take the oath of office as a new Congressman.

The governor will then have two weeks to announce the date of the election, which is expected to be in mid- to late-March for the Primary. In a special election a candidate wins if they receive a majority of votes. If not the top two candidates with the most votes in the Primary will face off in the General Election in June.

A state senate district includes roughly 800,000 people, which is larger than a Congressional seat and Senators are elected for four-year terms. With the new term limits, state legislators in California can serve a maximum of 12 years, regardless of whether they serve in the Assembly or State Senate. However, because Bonilla was elected before June 5, 2012 she is restricted by the previous term limits, approved in 1990, which limits legislators to three terms in the State Assembly and two terms in the State Senate. Since the election will be past the half-way point in DeSaulnier’s term, if elected, she will serve less than two years, allowing her two more full terms for a total of close to 10 years. The same would apply to fellow Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, also a Democrat, who is termed out this year, and is rumored to be considering a run for the Senate seat. She has not responded to phone calls about a possible run.

Another rumored candidate, Supervisor Mary Piepho, a Republican, did respond through her spokesperson Tomi Riley who only stated the following regarding a possible State Senate run: “Many people have encouraged Mary to consider it.”

The other Assembly Member in the area, Democrat Jim Frazier, has stated previously that he is not considering running in the special State Senate election.

According to her campaign’s press release, “Bonilla is a former high school teacher who has worked to invest in public education, strengthen neighborhood schools, and improve access to college and job-training programs for local students.” It further states “Bonilla balanced budgets by not spending what we don’t have, remaining committed to reducing our debt burden, while protecting vital services like education and public safety from drastic budget cuts.”

On Wednesday, the campaign also announced that both the Contra Costa Deputy Sheriffs Association and The United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County Local 1230 have endorsed Bonilla in the race.

Assemblywoman Bonilla is a proven leader who has a strong track record of supporting public safety,” said Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriffs Association President Ken Westermann. “As an Assemblymember, former mayor, and former Contra Costa County Supervisor, Susan Bonilla has been a key partner in keeping Contra Costa families safe. The Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriffs Association is happy to endorse Assemblywoman Bonilla for State Senate.”

Contra Costa families are kept safe by the dedicated service of our Deputy Sheriffs. In many of our communities, they are the front line of law enforcement and public safety,” Assemblywoman Bonilla said. “I’m honored to have the support of these brave men and women. In the State Senate, I will continue to fight diligently to ensure that they have the resources and support they need to keep our communities safe.”

The firefighters Local 1230 is the region’s largest firefighters association.

Assemblywoman Bonilla has consistently worked to support public safety and public safety workers. She is a proven leader who has worked tirelessly to ensure that we have the resources to keep Contra Costa families safe,” United Professional Fire Fighters of Contra Costa County President Vince Wells said. “We’re pleased that Assemblywoman Bonilla is running for State Senate and enthusiastically offer her our endorsement and support.”

Local1230 represents over 450 firefighters from four different districts and two cities including: Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, El Cerrito Fire Department, Moraga-Orina Fire District, Pinole Fire Department, and Rodeo-Hercules Fire District.

I’m deeply honored to have the support of Contra Costa County’s Professional Firefighters,” Assemblywoman Bonilla said. “These brave men and women keep our families and homes safe, while putting themselves at real risk. In the Senate I will continue to work to ensure that they always have the resources to keep our communities safe.”

As a former chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance, the release states “Bonilla led the legislative effort to streamline education funding, giving local schools more control, made college more affordable for local students, and secured $1 billion for training and technology to prepare students to succeed in a job market that demands problem solving and critical thinking skills.”

Prior to serving in public office, she was an English teacher in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. She has a B.A. in English from Azusa Pacific University and teaching credentials from CSU Los Angeles. Bonilla lives in Concord with her husband, John. They have four daughters and three grandchildren.

State Senate District 7 includes the cities of Antioch, Brentwood, Concord, Walnut Creek and Danville, and other communities in Contra Costa County, as well as Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton in Alameda County.

There are now two announced candidates in the race, including attorney Mark Meuser, a Republican.

To learn more or to sign up for updates for Bonilla’s campaign, please visit

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Susan Bonilla

5 Comments to “Assemblywoman Bonilla announces bid for State Senate seat, Piepho won’t yet commit”

  1. James Wogan says:

    Susan Bonilla has my full support. She has been a champion for education and foster youth.
    She will be an amazing member of the CA State Senate!

  2. […] For six years, Joan Buchanan represented the 16th Assembly District, portions of which overlap with the open seat. She’ll face stiff competition from Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla of Concord, the largest city in the district. […]

  3. […] For six years, Joan Buchanan represented the 16th Assembly District, portions of which overlap with the open seat. She’ll face stiff competition from Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla of Concord, the largest city in the district. […]

  4. […] For six years, Joan Buchanan represented the 16th Assembly District, portions of which overlap with the open seat. She’ll face stiff competition from Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla of Concord, the largest city in the district. […]

  5. […] For six years, Joan Buchanan represented the 16th Assembly District, portions of which overlap with the open seat. She’ll face stiff competition from Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla of Concord, the largest city in the district. […]

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