Wilma Chan

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Wilma Chan

Template:TOCnestleft Wilma Chan (born October 5, 1949 in Boston, Massachusetts, is a politician in California serving on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Chan served as the California State Assembly Majority Leader from 2002–2004; she was the first woman and the first Asian American to hold the position. She also served as Assembly Majority Whip from 2001-2002. Chan is a Democrat. She represented the 16th District, which includes Oakland, Alameda, and Piedmont from 2000 to 2006 before being termed out. In June, Chan lost a Democratic Party primary election for the California State Senate District 9 seat that is now held by Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, who will be termed out in 2008. Chan was a resident of Oakland for more than 20 years; she lives in Alameda.

Chan is a teacher and the Legislator-in-Residence at the University of California, Berkeley. She taught the course Cal-in-Sacramento in Spring 2007. She is also working on expanding healthcare in Oakland and Alameda County.


Chan holds a BA from Wellesley and a Master's Degree in Education Policy from the Stanford Graduate School of Education.

Harry Wong Support Committee

According to Pam Tau Lee;

He shared stories of how Alex Hing, Ben Lee, Gordon Chang and Wilma Chan and the community formed the Defend Daih Wong Support Committee. Daih Wong was beaten up by the police because he did not have a license to sell newspapers. It just so happened that the newspapers he sold were the progressive ones and also literature from China. The Harry Wong Support Committee protested police brutality and the right wing in Chinatown. We picketed in front of the police station and packed the court room. He spent a few days in jail and charges against Harry were dropped after court hearings. Community outrage to what happened to him, the victory when the people stepped up to unite and dare to confront the power, was one of the many events that lead to the formation of the Chinese Progressive Association. Yes, we held down the progressive pole in Chinatown and Harry says he is proud as hell we still do.[1]

East Wind

In 1985 Contributing Editors to the League of Revolutionary Struggle Asian journal East Wind included:

SAN FRANCISCO : Wilma Chan, founding member of the Chinese Progressive Association (San Francisco); Gordon Chang, Asian American history instructor at Stanford University; Forrest Gok, Paper Angels Productions board of directors and former staff of San Francisco Journal; Jon Jang, jazz recording artist/producer of Are You Chinese or Charlie Chan?: Happy Lim, journalist, poet, writer, and Secretary of the Chinese Workers Mutual Aid Association in the 1940s; Masao Suzuki-Bonzo, graduate student in economics, Stanford University; Ranko Yamada, attorney.


Wilma Chan, was. in 1982, a Contributing Editor to East Wind and has been an organizer in the Chinese communities of Boston and San Francisco since 1969. She is the Chairperson of the National Asian Struggles Commission of the League of Revolutionary Struggle (M-L) and works and resides in the Bay Area with her family.[2]



Wilma Chan was a regular contributor to the League of Revolutionary Struggle's Unity.

Unity Staff Writers/Researchers

The April 20, 1987 edition of "Unity", Volume 10, No. 7, listed the following staff of this publication, which include Wilma Chan as a "Staff Writer"

The complete listing is as follows:


Contributing Editors:

Regional Correspondents:

Staff Writers:

Business Manager:


Production Staff:

Unity is a published by Unity Publications.... Unity main office: P.O. Box 29293, Oakland, CA, 94604 In the East: "write P.O. Box 118,New York, NY 10013"

Unity Staff Writers/Researchers

Staff Writers/Researchers on Unity, newspaper of the League of Revolutionary Struggle in 1989 included Anne Adams, Jane Barth, Wilma Chan, Evaristo Garza, Ruth Goldstein, Karega Hart, Carol Jaggi, Michael Lee, Bob Morgan, John Massey, John Ota, Marissa Pascual, Peter Shapiro, Bernice Wuethrich, Bill Silverstone, Carl Zeff

"Where to in'92"

The the February 1992 issue of the Unity Organizing Committee's Unity, carried commentary from several activists on their thoughts on politics in the 1990s.

Those interviewed were Rose Sanders, civil rights attorney, Selma, Oscar Rios, mayor of Watsonville California, Roger Green, state assemblyman Brooklyn, Wilma Chan school board president Oakland, Dr. James Zogby, president Arab American Institute, Pedro Noguera, president Berkeley School Board, Richard Moore, SouthWest Organizing Project, Tajel Shah, United States Student Association president, Merle Hansen, North American Farm Alliance, Wilma Mankiller, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, Walter Johnson, secretary treasurer San Francisco Labor Council, Ginny Montes general secretary NOW.

Socialist staffer

Former League of Revolutionary Struggle supporter David Brown is Chief of staff at Office of Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan.



From Eric Mar 2006.

"My involvement in educational justice work began when I joined the Chinese Progressive Association (San Francisco) in SF's Chinatown in 1984. My twin brother Gordon Mar [in the picture on the far right] had been active in the Asian Student Union at UC Berkeley and joined CPA a few years earlier. He is now the Executive Director. Former Emeryville Unified Superintendent Henry Der is to my right, in the middle of the photo. At the time Henry was director of Chinese for Affirmative Action. He is now a senior program office for the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. Burton High School teacher Eric Chow is to the far left.

In 1987 CPA organized thousands of students, parents and community folks to March on Sacramento for bilingual education, Ethnic Studies, adequate funding, equal opportunities to learn and against the racism and anti-immigrant sentiment of the period.

We also dabbled in electoral politics during the Rainbow Coalition campaigns of 1984 and 88 as well, and learned to "wield the weapon" of electoral politics to help build stronger social movements for a more democratic and just society, as one of our leaders Wilma Chan used to say. Wilma is now in the California State Assembly.

CPA also sparked my interest in US China relations, fighting against anti-Asian violence, and connecting immigrant rights and workers rights and economic justice for our communities."[3]


Chan was elected to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in 1994 and re-elected without opposition in 1998. She chaired the county’s committee on Health. She was the first Chair of the Alameda County Children and Families Commission that annually distributed $20 million for children's services. As a member of the Board of Supervisors, she worked to expand the number of school-based health clinics and worked to restore benefits to legal immigrants. She initiated a pilot welfare-to-work project in Oakland's San Antonio neighborhood, and developed the strategic plan on the future of health care services in Alameda County.[4]

Assembly run

Chan declared her candidacy for California Assembly District 16 by mid-June 1999. Chan highlighted the need for more Asian American representation in the state Assembly in her campaign. Former Oakland mayor Elihu Harris briefly entered the Democratic primary, but dropped out, leaving Chan unopposed. Chan won the primary with over 80% of all votes cast . She ran against the incumbent Audie Bock in the general election and captured over two-thirds of all votes cast. [5]

State Assembly

Beyond her role as majority leader and whip, Chan served in several committees during her time in the Assembly. Chan served as a Chair of the Health committee, Chair of the Select Committee on Language Access to State Services, and Vice Chair of the Asian-Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus. She also served as a member of the committees on Aging and Long Term Care, Jobs, Economic Development, Government Organization, and Banking and Finance. Chan was a member of the Legislative Women's Caucus, Environmental Caucus, Internet Caucus and Smart Growth Caucus.

During her six years in the Assembly, she passed more than 70 bills and resolutions. Her primary legislative areas include health care, senior services, early childhood education, environmental health, jobs and economic development. Chan authored legislation to phase out birth defect and cancer causing chemicals in California. Chan expanded preschool opportunities for toddlers by working to gain $100 million in the state budget. She also carried landmark legislation to make affordable health insurance available to 800,000 uninsured California children.[6]

2002 PWW banquet

In a spirited tribute, the Northern California People’s Weekly World/Nuestro Mundo banquet Oct. 13 honored “the heroes and heroines of the struggle against corporate greed,” and called for a big turnout against Republican “Bush-clones” in the Nov. 5 election. The banquet raised $8,000 for the PWW fund drive.

In her opening, Berkeley Vice Mayor Maudelle Shirek spoke of the growing movements in solidarity with West Coast port workers and against war. “So there is hope,” she said, “and a new movement that we must help nurture and grow.”

That movement includes the bloc in Congress that voted against the Bush war resolution, and those who supported Rep. Barbara Lee’s (D-Calif.) peace resolution.

The banquet honored the Coalition for Workers Rights , Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Locals 2 and 2850, Sacramento Living Wage Campaign and Father Bill O’Donnell, known as “labor’s priest.” Each received certificates from Rep. Lee, in whose district the event took place, and from Wilma Chan, majority leader in the California Assembly, as well as from PWW/Nuestro Mundo. Elliott Kenin and the “Spirit of ’29” traditional jazz band and singer/songwriter Anthony J. Smith added to the upbeat spirit.[7]

Backing Bonta

In 2012 Alameda County Supervisor and former Assemblymember Wilma Chan announced she has endorsed Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta for State Assembly in the 18th District.

“All residents of the 18th Assembly District deserve a strong voice in Sacramento,” Chan said. “They share common concerns around schools, healthcare and public safety. Each area of the district also has unique needs such as the development of the former Naval Air Station in Alameda, the threatened closure of San Leandro Hospital and rising violence in Oakland. I believe Rob has the intelligence and skill it will take to navigate Sacramento and address the wide range of issues affecting the district.
“In addition, I believe Rob is best prepared to face the realities of a shrinking state budget without decimating public education and needed services for seniors, disabled and middle class families.”

Bonta was humbled and energized by Chan’s endorsement.

“Supervisor Chan is a legend in the East Bay in her commitment to children and families, and trailblazing accomplishments for Asian Americans and I deeply appreciate her endorsement,” Bonta said. “I am honored and motivated to advocate on behalf of the people and issues for which we share a passion.”

About Wilma Chan

Assemblywoman Wilma Chan served as the first woman Majority Leader of the California State Assembly.

Prior to her election to the Assembly, Ms. Chan was elected twice as the first Asian American to serve on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors after completing a term on the Oakland Board of Education.

She served as the Legislator in Residence at UC Berkeley during the 2006-07 academic years and taught political science on campus for two years. In addition, served for four years on the California Medical Assistance Commission, she has worked on healthcare reform projects in Alameda County, including an expansion of health services at the Peralta Community Colleges. She most recently served as Vice President for Policy at Children Now, a national children’s advocacy organization located in Oakland.[8]

Fighting ACA repeal

Before an assembly, February 2017, that packed the gymnasium of Fruitvale's International Community School, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-13) affirmed her commitment to resisting the Trump administration's attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Lee praised recent progressive gains — overturning the Muslim travel ban, the resignation of Michael Flynn, the withdrawal of Andrew Puzder as Labor Secretary — and stressed the critical role of her district in resisting the repeal of the ACA and other policies of the administration.

"So goes the East Bay, so goes the state, so goes the country," said Lee.

The fight to retain ACA comes with high stakes for the district — according to Ralph Silber, Executive Director of the Alameda Health Consortium, 350,000 East Bay residents are enrolled in the ACA; for 70,000 of those, it's the first time they've had healthcare coverage.

"The only way to deal with a bully is to fight back," said Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, who reported that of all 58 counties in the state, Alameda had enrolled the most people onto MediCal.

When asked about the recent proposal for single-payer healthcare in California — which the California Nurses Association and Democratic Socialists of America were present to promote — Lee and Chan each said that such a bill must not detract from the efforts to resist the repealing of ACA. [9]