Equality California Endorses 11 Pro-Equality Candidates in Federal, State and Local Races

Equality California today announced the endorsements of 11 strong pro-equality candidates for Congress, the California Legislature and local offices throughout the state.

“Equality California has been able to accomplish the things it has because of its work with the LGBT and allied elected officials with whom it collaborates in Washington, D.C., Sacramento and around the state,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “This fall, we are pleased to endorse a group of candidates with a proven track record of supporting LGBT civil rights and social justice, and are confident that they will fight for strong laws protecting LGBT people.”

The candidates are as follows:

U.S. Congress:

Doug Applegate (CD 49 – San Diego) – A former U.S. Marine Colonel, Iraq veteran and current attorney, Doug Applegate strongly supports the enactment of strong civil rights for LGBT people at the federal level, including the federal Equality Act, and is an advocate for veterans and comprehensive immigration reform. During his 32-military career, he opposed the anti-LGBT “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and voiced his support that LGBT service members be allowed to serve openly and proudly. Applegate is opposing Congressman Darrell Issa (R-San Diego) in his congressional reelection bid.

California Senate:

Anthony Portantino (SD 25 – La Cañada Flintridge) –  Former California Assemblymember and La Cañada Flintridge Mayor Anthony Portantino has a long and stellar history of supporting civil rights protections for the LGBT community. As assemblymember, Portantino was vocal and public in his opposition to Proposition 8, consistently voted in favor of legislation advancing LGBT civil rights, and recruited and mentored out LGBT leaders. He has regularly participated in Pride events and he organized a series of successful HIV summits with City of Hope Hospital.

California Assembly:

Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (AD 4 – Napa/Colusa/Lake Counties) – Cecelia Aguiar-Curry currently serves as the first woman mayor of the city of Winters, north of Sacramento. In a largely rural, agricultural district, Aguiar-Curry is committed to being a voice for LGBT civil rights, social and economic justice and the environment. She supports programs to aid bullied LGBT youth in schools, legal protections for transgender Californians, and has worked to elect LGBT candidates.

Blanca Rubio (AD 48 – San Gabriel Valley) – A former teacher and current member of the Baldwin Park Unified School District Board, Blanca Rubio has nearly two decades of experience serving her community. She supports marriage equality, access to quality, affordable healthcare and the equality of all Americans. Rubio would oppose state budget cuts impacting the LGBT community, including to programs that assist people living with HIV, would support laws protecting LGBT parents, and opposed Proposition 8 in 2008.

Christy Smith (AD 38 – Santa Clarita) – Governing Board Member of the Newhall School District Christy Smith says that her views on LGBT issues were shaped early on as she watched her mother, a registered nurse, volunteer to care for people with AIDS at the height of the epidemic. As a school board member, Smith has advocated for LGBT students and for the implementation of the FAIR Education Act, mandating LGBT-inclusive curricula in California schools.

The Equality California PAC endorses outstanding LGBT candidates at the local level:

Thomas Lister-Looker (Palm Springs Unified School Board, Trustee Area 1) – Thomas Lister-Looker has been a vocal advocate for HIV services and education and against stigmatization of people with HIV. A father of two and longtime resident of Palm Springs, Lister-Looker says that as a school board member, he will work to expand gay-straight alliances at district high schools, ensure that all schools provide a safe, supportive learning environment for LGBT students, target bullying and make sure that transgender students have full access to school facilities.

Rafael Mandelman (San Francisco City College Board of Trustees) – Rafael Mandelman is running for reelection to the San Francisco City College Board of Trustees, where he has served since 2013. Mandelman has extensive experience in political and civil rights advocacy, having served on the boards of the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, the San Francisco LGBT Center and the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee. Mandelman is committed to maintaining the college’s LGBT studies and other programs, and working to help elect other LGBT candidates at every level of government.

Steve Padilla (Chula Vista City Council) – Steve Padilla is a former Chula Vista mayor, city councilmember and police detective. He is committed to maintaining Chula Vista’s historically LGBT-inclusive policies, enhancing collaboration with local LGBT organizations and to opposing laws that would target LGBT people for discrimination. He has proudly supported LGBT organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign, HonorPAC and the San Diego LGBT Community Center. He wants to serve as an example of an out, proud public official for LGBT youth.

Tom Temprano (San Francisco City College Board of Trustees) – Tom Temprano is a boardmember and past president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and has a long history of advocating on behalf of and working to elect LGBT candidates. Temprano has indicated that he will work to protect important San Francisco Community College programs, including LGBT studies, from budget cuts. He would work to implement sensitivity training for college staff about transgender and gender non-conforming students, ensure that facilities are transgender-inclusive, and include transgender people in any curriculum covering LGBT history.

Les Zendle, MD (Desert Healthcare District Board) – Les Zendle has worked to improve the health and wellbeing of the LGBT community since the 1980s. He was a founding chairperson of Los Angeles Jewish AIDS Services, and has served on the boards of AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Palm Springs Human Rights Commission and the Palm Springs LGBTQ Center. In the early 1990s, he was Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s first openly gay medical director; currently four out of 16 are LGBT. His decades-long dedication to LGBT health make him a strong candidate for the Desert Healthcare District Board.

Cesar Zepeda (Richmond City Council) – Cesar Zepeda became an LGBT advocate 15 years ago when he co-founded a Bay Area-wide LGBT youth group. Since then, he has served on the boards of or volunteered for a number of LGBT organizations and currently is president of Richmond Rainbow Pride. If elected, Zepeda has pledged to help enact a gender-neutral restroom ordinance, establish programs aiding LGBT seniors, youth, and people living with HIV, and appoint an LGBT liaison to the city council, mayor’s office and police department.

The Equality California Political Action Committee endorses viable candidates for federal and state office who have a proven track record of supporting equal rights and legal protections for LGBT Californians and who are committed to advancing these goals in their capacity as elected officials.