State Senate Race 2024: Question 1

1. Please provide a one or two paragraph background sketch.

Jackie Elward:

As a City Councilwoman and former Mayor of Rohnert Park, I have found ways to bring the community together around affordable housing, solutions to help the unhoused, and investments in transportation, sustainable agriculture, and our clean energy future. As a first- generation immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I have an appreciation for the community that welcomed me, and I strive to govern with the same compassion that I was afforded when I made Rohnert Park my new home. I am an educator (teaching French at a French-American school) and a labor organizer from a labor family. I have been an integral part of the struggle to build pathways to the middle class and expand access to fair wages and benefits. In 2020, I made history as the first Black woman leader elected in the City of Rohnert Park. If elected to the State Senate, I would make history once again, becoming the first California state legislator born in Africa.

I serve as a Director of Sonoma Clean Power, as well as a Director of Sonoma County Continuum of Care. I am a member of the Executive Board of North Bay Jobs with Justice, a member of the Sonoma County Democratic Party Executive Committee and I was a leader in the campaign to pass Measure B in Rohnert Park, establishing an urban limit to prevent sprawl and protect open space and agriculture. I received my first BS in Sociology from Chico State University and a second BS in Criminal Justice from Central State University. I live with my husband John, a fellow labor organizer, and our three wonderful children in Rohnert Park.

Rozzana Verder-Aliga:

I have been an elected official for 27 years . I am the first Filipino American woman elected to public office in Vallejo and Solano County. In 1993 I was elected to the Vallejo School Board where I served for 12 years and elected in 2007 to the Solano County Board of Education where I served for 6 years. I was elected to a partial term to the Vallejo City Council in 2013 and re-elected to full terms in 2016 and 2020. Throughout my public service career, my work has focused on serving children, seniors, veterans and families. I served as Vallejo Vice Mayor in 2016, 2021, 2022 and currently Vice Mayor for 2023.

In the 1990s, I worked as a community organizer/volunteer with local non-profits, Fighting Back Partnership and Youth & Family Services. I am a mental health professional and licensed marriage and family therapist.  I have a master and doctorate degrees in counseling psychology.  I am currently Senior Mental Health Manager for Solano County Behavioral Health Adult Outpatient Integrated Care Clinics.

My core values of equity, diversity, inclusion, equitable access to education, jobs, housing are reflected in my support of policies throughout my public service career. As Councilmember, I supported initiatives to maintain financial stability, prioritized economic stability, public safety, infrastructure repairs, streamlined business permitting processes, approved fair labor contracts and collaborated with schools/county and other public agencies, funded arts, youth, seniors and homeless programs.

A native of Manila, Philippines, I immigrated to California in 1981. My husband, Nestor Aliga is a US Marine Corps veteran and retired U.S. Army Colonel. We have three adult sons: Nestor Jr., Xavier and Riz – all attended Vallejo public schools and graduated from California public universities.

Christopher Cabaldon:

Christopher Cabaldon led West Sacramento as its mayor for a record-setting two decades, transforming what was a forgotten old-industrial town into what is now cited as “America’s most interesting small city”, “America’s most livable small city”, and one of the world’s “21 Smart Cities to Watch”. He was chair of the national LGBTQ Mayors Alliance, and chair of both the Asian/Pacific and LGBT caucuses of the League of California Cities. He chairs the judges panel for the Police Reform & Racial Justice national award program, and is Mayor-in-Residence at the Institute for the Future.

President Obama appointed Christopher to the national College Promise board, leading a successful nationwide effort to enact free college programs in hundreds of cities and states. An appointed official for five governors, Christopher is California’s delegate to the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education. He served previously as vice chancellor of the California Community Colleges and director of the state legislature’s higher education committee, and as a tenured professor of public policy and administration at Sacramento State University. He was national president for Asian and Pacific Americans in Higher Education and president of the statewide Linked Learning Alliance. At the US Conference of Mayors, he chaired the Jobs, Education & the Workforce Committee. He is a board member for EdSource, California Competes, and the California Education Learning Lab.

As chair of the Sacramento region’s metropolitan planning organization and its transportation committee, his pioneering work on integrating transportation, land use, environmental justice, housing, air quality, and climate change has won numerous federal government and other national awards, and became the basis for some of California’s most sweeping transportation and climate reforms. He has been a state Delta Protection Commissioner, water quality control board member, and statewide advisory committee member for the 30×30 biodiversity conservation effort, as well as a board member for the Capitol Corridor rail service and Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District. CalMatters recently featured his commentary on the shadowy Flannery Associates’ massive land acquisition in Solano County.

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