Buchanan running for Congress | May 1, 2009 | Danville Express | DanvilleSanRamon.com |


Danville Express

Newsfront - May 1, 2009

Buchanan running for Congress

Newly elected Assemblywoman eyes Washington

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

State Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan of Alamo announced last week that she is in the running to replace U.S. Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D., 10th District). Secretary of State Hillary Clinton nominated Tauscher to be her Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security in March.

Buchanan, a Democrat and a longtime school board member, was elected to represent the 15th Assembly District in November in a close race against San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson.

"Let me start out by saying that these opportunities rarely come up because there are no term limits in Congress," said Buchanan, an Alamo resident. "Seats in the Bay Area are held 30 years or longer. It was hard not to at least take a look at it."

Some of her supporters wanted her to jump into the race immediately, Buchanan said, but first she did her due diligence.

"We spent time doing a poll, and I talked to well over 100 community leaders," she noted. The findings were that people supported her candidacy for Congress.

But the bottom line for her, she said, is that many issues she cares about deeply are being decided at the federal level. She feels that something can be done regarding these problems under the leadership President Obama wants to provide.

"One issue is education," said Buchanan, who was on the San Ramon Valley Unified School District board for 20 years before running for state Assembly. "I think the state of education in our nation is a national disgrace. No Child Left behind has been a complete failure and an empty promise. It's something we need to make a reality."

Another issue is health care. She watched her son Chris go through six brain surgeries in the last couple of years and, despite his good insurance, she said they had to fight to get the services authorized and paid.

Buchanan said she knows she's the "new kid on the block" compared to Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, also a Democrat, who announced his candidacy on Wednesday, and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D., Concord) who threw his hat into the race several weeks ago. But it doesn't scare her.

"I'm looking forward to having vigorous debates with them about those issues," she said. "I feel I can run a strong campaign."

"Looking inside you have to ask: 'Is there the fire in the belly?' Campaigns take a lot out of you," she added.

Buchanan agrees that some people might back her because they would like to see Tauscher replaced by another woman. "But I think people should look at the individual," she said.

"We know she's a terrific candidate, and we're watching this race with interest to see how it develops," said Jonathan Parker, political director of EMILY's List, a prominent national political group that recruits women candidates, according to online Capitol Alert.

Buchanan acknowledges that some want her to stay in the Assembly seat, such as those who worked to elect her, a Democrat, into an Assembly seat being vacated by Republican Guy Houston.

"I believe another Democrat can get this seat," she said.

She also said that she is proud of things the Assembly has already accomplished in her term; one example was getting the state allocation due Lammersville School District.

Buchanan was elected to the San Ramon Valley school board in 1988 and has worked on 17 campaigns since then, she noted.

"I truly believe we can't underestimate the voters," she said. "They're smarter than we think they are."

Tauscher, who is also from Alamo, endorsed DeSaulnier earlier although she still faces Senate confirmation hearings for her nomination to the State Department. He has also been endorsed by the Contra Costa County Central Labor Council.