Former Pleasanton City Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio said Tuesday that she will enter the race for the 16th State Assembly seat in the state's June 7 primary.
Cook-Kallio, a Democrat, aims to unseat first-term Republican Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, who already announced her intent to seek re-election next year.
Cook-Kallio's decision to run was not unexpected. A public school teacher for more than 35 years, she served on the Pleasanton council for eight years, until being termed out in 2014. She said friends had urged her to seek another elected office, with many urging her to run for the Pleasanton school board.
She decided against that opportunity in the November 2014 school board election, and also was sidelined by Democrats who favored former Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti as its candidate for the 16th District Assembly seat that year. Baker defeated Sbranti with 51.6% of the vote in the November 2014 Assembly election.
Cook-Kallio also sought election as Pleasanton's mayor in 2012 but lost to fellow Councilman Jerry Thorne.
When looking at issues that matter most to the community, Cook-Kallio said that "the current Assembly member's record in Sacramento does not match her lip service in the community."
"I won't sit idly writing op-eds about the traffic gridlock that spills off the freeways and clogs city streets," she said. "I will take action. I will get BART to Livermore and the subsequent ACE Train connection by introducing legislation to create a joint powers agreement between Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton and the transportation agency to ensure this connection happens."
She said Baker claims to be pro-choice but a look at her votes in Sacramento on reproductive health, women's health and rights, sex education and access to affordable health care tell a different story.
"Her voting record on women's health issues earned her one of the lowest scores in the legislature when evaluated by PPAC, a women's health advocacy organization," Cook-Kallio said.
With years of experience teaching students in the classroom, Cook-Kallio said she understands the needs of students.
"I have the first-hand experience needed to ensure all California students leave our schools with a well-rounded education, a strong foundation and the skills necessary to be successful in the 21st century," she explained.
Cook-Kallio recently retired after more than 39 years as a classroom teacher. She holds a bachelor's degree in history from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, three teaching credentials from San Jose State University and a master's degree in history with an emphasis on the U.S. Constitution, also from San Jose State.
She plans to officially launch her campaign in January. Under California's open primary format, the top two finishers in the June primary, regardless of political party affiliation, would be set to face off in the general election Nov. 8.
The 16th Assembly District includes Pleasanton, Alamo, Danville, Dublin, Lafayette, Livermore, Moraga, Orinda, San Ramon and Walnut Creek.