SACRAMENTO – Mariko Yamada hopes her 42 years of experience in public service and her personal and professional background will launch her to victory in the contested race for the 3rd District California State Senate seat.

“I believe my background, education, experience and temperament, and 42 years in public service, have prepared me well to take on the serious responsibilities required to represent nearly 1 million constituents in a California State Senate District,” Yamada told the Northern California Record.

The competitive race for the 3rd District State Senate seat pits Yamada against Democrat Bill Dodd and Republican Greg Coppes. The primary election will be held on June 7. 

Dodd is a 4th District Assemblyman, replacing Yamada, who left the assembly post when her term expired in 2014. Democrat Lois Wolk is the current 3rd District State Senator.

A social worker by profession, Yamada said she would place priority on issues related to aging and long-term care, water, agricultural and natural resources, and social, economic, educational and environmental justice if elected, including issues affecting students and veterans.

“I took care of an aging parent for 23 years and that experience focused my attention on the fragmented nature of our aging and long-term care system that is difficult to navigate and adds stress to families who are trying to care for their loved ones,” Yamada said. “We must redesign the aging and long-term care delivery systems in our state to streamline and make services more accessible. We must also re-examine eligibility standards for these programs to ensure that the middle class can be served. You should not have to impoverish yourself in order to receive help.” 

Meanwhile, Yamada said her fight for justice comes from a very personal motivator. She was born and raised in Denver following her family’s release from the Manzanar War Relocation Center where they were held for four years during World War II.

“Because I am living the bittersweet inheritance of the Japanese-American internment experience during World War II, my commitment to social justice for all people is very clear,” Yamada said.

Yamada got her start in politics in the mid-1970s when she worked as an assistant deputy county supervisor in Los Angeles. She was later appointed, then ran and won a seat on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors in 2003 and won what she said was a “fiercely contested assembly race” in 2008. She served in that post for six years.

“I have a lifelong commitment to public service and working on behalf of the most vulnerable in our society,” Yamada said. “I am running for the state Senate because I believe we need more leaders in public office who are willing to take a stand for everyday people against special corporate interests that work against common sense reforms.”

Yamada received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Colorado-Boulder, and a master's in social work from the University of Southern California.

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