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Filipino American Candidates Make Runoffs in Legislative Races

Asian Pacific American candidates in the June 5 California primaries included at least four Filipino American challengers — three running for Congress, one for State Assembly — who are headed for runoffs in November.

Cristina Osmeña

• 14th Congressional District: Democratic incumbent Jackie Speier received 69,982 votes (78.4 percent) to Republican Cristina Osmeña’s 19,277 (21.6 percent). The district covers most of San Mateo County, including the cities of Burlingame, Daly City, Colma, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Pacifica, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo and South San Francisco, plus a sliver of southwestern San Francisco. Speier has represented the district since 2013.

Osmeña immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines at the age of six when her family fled the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. She had a 20-year career in the financial industry and was working as an equity analyst in New York with the World Trade Center was attacked. She transitioned to an executive role in the solar industry and last year was vice president of corporate development for SunPreme, a solar module manufacturer based in Sunnyvale.

TJ Cox

• 21st Congressional District: Republican incumbent David Valadao received 31,297 votes (64.6 percent) to Democrat TJ Cox’s 17,165 (35.4 percent). The district is centered in the San Joaquin Valley and includes areas of Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties and the cities of Coalinga, Delano, Hanford and parts of Bakersfield. Valadao has been in office since 2013.

Cox was born in Walnut Creek to Kenneth Cox, a scientist and chemical engineering professor from China, and Perla DeCastro, from the Philippines, who met in college in the U.S. The loss of his father while in high school influenced him to choose chemical engineering as an early career path. Now an engineer, agricultural entrepreneur and small businessman, Cox is the founder of Central Valley NMTC Fund, which invests in socially and economically disadvantaged communities.

Kenneth Mejia

• 34th Congressional District: Democratic incumbent Jimmy Gomez received 36,614 votes (79.5 percent) and Kenneth Mejia of the Green Party was second with 5,552 (12.1 percent). Libertarian Angela Elise McArdle was third with 3,898 (8.5 percent). The district is almost entirely within Los Angeles and includes Boyle Heights, Chinatown, City Terrace, Cypress Park, Downtown, Eagle Rock, El Sereno, Garvanza, Glassell Park, Highland Park, Koreatown and Little Bangladesh.

Mejia is a 27-year-old first-generation Filipino American community organizer, certified public accountant, and board member of the Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council. He says that healthcare, housing, education, and a clean green environment are human rights and that he will fight in Congress to make that happen. He ran for the same seat in the 2016 primary as a write-in candidate and as a Green Party member in the 2017 special election after Rep. Xavier Becerra was appointed state attorney general.

• 43rd Congressional District: Democratic incumbent Maxine Waters received 50,715 votes (71.5 percent). Among four challengers, Republican entrepreneur Edwin Duterte finished in fourth place with 3,027 (4.3 percent). Republican Omar Navarro (10,437, 14.7 percent) will advance to the general election. Also running were Republican Frank DeMartini (5,104, 7.2 percent) and Green Party member Miguel Angel Zuniga (1,615, 2.3 percent). The district includes the cities of Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale and Lomita and portions of Los Angeles, Carson and Torrance. Waters has been in office since 1991 and has represented the 43rd District since 2013.

Duterte, an investment advisor in Redondo Beach, described himself as “pro-life, godly conservative” who is “uncompromising on our Second Amendment” and supports “President Trump’s sensible regulation reform to help business thrive.” According to some media outlets, he is believed to be a distant relative of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Christina Laskowski

• 22nd Assembly District: Democratic incumbent Kevin Mullin received 38,613 votes (71.8 percent), followed by Republican Christina Laskowski with 13,141 (24.4 percent) and Green Party member Bridget Duffy with 2,059 (3.8 percent). The district contains most of the San Francisco Peninsula, including the cities of Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, Foster City, Hillsborough, Millbrae, Pacifica, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo and South San Francisco. Mullin was first elected in 2012.

Laskowski, a Bay Area native, had a career in boutique investment banking before becoming a change management consultant. She has helped entrepreneurs and organizations navigate the complexities of growing a business and has advised local and international tech startups. She is seeking to become the first Filipina American to be elected to the State Legislature.

As previously reported, the first Filipino American elected to the Legislature, Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), is running for re-election.

• San Joaquin County Assessor-Recorder: Incumbent Steve Bestolarides received 45,577 votes (78.54) percent, defeating challenger Reno Ursal of Tracy (11,312, 20.87 percent). Ursal joined the Alameda County Assessor’s Office in 2004 and served as supervising appraiser for more than seven years.

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