"It shows we really have a good broad base support," said Buchanan, an Alamo resident who has served 17 years on the San Ramon Valley Unified School District board. "This is a great way to start our campaign. I am extremely gratified by the amount we've raised and the number of people involved in giving."
She is running for the Democratic nomination against Steve Filson, a small business owner and a retired Navy and commercial airline pilot with labor negotiations experience; and Steve Thomas, a union electrician and environmentalist who worked in finance for more than 10 years. The Democratic clubs in the district will host a forum for the contenders on March 11.
Buchanan noted she has reached out to different groups - parents, teachers and local business groups - and she wants to solidify her base in the San Ramon Valley with the intention of expanding her campaign to reach other cities in the 15th Assembly District.
The district includes Alamo, Danville, San Ramon, Walnut Creek, Brentwood, Livermore and parts of Pleasanton, as well as portions of the Sacramento Delta communities of Stockton, Galt and Elk Grove.
Buchanan said she had doubts about continuing her candidacy when her son Chris needed surgery to remove a brain tumor the size of a grapefruit. But Chris, who survived the operation, said otherwise.
"He sort of looked at me during the biopsy," said Joan Buchanan, "and said, 'Mom, you're staying in the race.'"
"It was a difficult time," she added. "That's all I could say."
Assemblyman Guy Houston (R., San Ramon) currently represents District 15, but his last term is about to expire. If voters had approved the proposition to extend term limits for the California Legislature and Houston had decided to retain his seat, Buchanan said she would have continued to run.
"Absolutely," she said.
The Democratic forum for the Assembly candidates will take place from 7-9 p.m., Tuesday, March 11, at the San Ramon Community Center, 12501 Alcosta Blvd. in San Ramon. The three candidates will attend the event to answer questions regarding the state budget, healthcare, the Delta and education. A donation is suggested of $10 and $5 for students and seniors. For more information, call Sally Sweetser at 335-2647.