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Tuesday June 29, 2021 — Special Election
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California State AssemblyCandidate for District 18Short Term

Photo of James Aguilar

James Aguilar

School Board Member
1,039 votes (1.8%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Full & Fair Funding of California public PreK-12 education.
  • Re-prioritization of public transit in California: free/affordable systems, infrastructure dollars, agency mergers.
  • Tackling the housing crisis: ending exclusionary zoning, empowering transit-oriented development.



Profession:Government & Community Relations Professional
Collateral Planning & Development Lead, San Leandro 2050 (2020–current)
School Board Member, San Leandro School Board — Elected position (2018–current)
Director of Government & Community Relations, Associated Students at San Francisco State University (2020–2021)
Environmental Justice & Policy Coordinator, Associated Students at San Francisco State University (2019–2020)
Administrative Intern, Office of Assemblymember Rob Bonta (2019–2019)
Legislative Intern, Office of Senator Nancy Skinner (2019–2019)
Student Board Member, San Lorenzo School Board — Appointed position (2017–2018)


San Francisco State University Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) - In Progress, End 2022, Political Science (2021)
San Lorenzo High School High School Diploma (2018)

Community Activities

Member, Board of Directors, California Student Board Members Association (2021–current)
Member, Board of Directors, San Francisco State Foundation (2021–current)
Delegate Assemblymember (Region 7-B), California School Boards Association (2019–current)
Associate Member, Alameda County Democratic Central Committee (2021–current)
Governing Board Member, Eden Area Regional Occupational Program (2020–current)


James was raised by his parents, UFCW Local 870 (now Local 5) organizers and advocates, in Oakland's historic Dimond District - just a walk away from Glenview Elementary and a bus ride to Edna Brewer Middle School. He attended those Oakland public schools until his family sought a new beginning in San Leandro a little under nine years ago, a fresh start.

Looking to move to bigger and greater things, James began advocating at City Council meetings, partnering with city leaders, and working with various groups to encourage youth engagement. His work led to a pilot youth city council program, and the expansion of the youth and student voice in the world of the city.

During his time in high school, James tirelessly advocated for San Lorenzo USD to implement a student position on the Board of Trustees. After being turned down once, he came in a second time and was chosen to lead the process, and elected unanimously. He served a one year term on San Lorenzo's School Board as the first Student Board Member. He championed various policy changes and a shift in direction for the district. This is where he also learned the importance of school board advocacy in Sacramento, partnering with board members and state legislators to bring the student voice into the fold.

When James was eighteen, he did something not every high schooler does as they’re about to walk the stage. He ran for school board in San Leandro. Throughout his campaign, he gained the endorsements of various LGBTQ and community-based organizations and reached out to the community in an effort to get to know the issues they care about.

James was elected to the San Leandro School Board in 2018 and became the youngest and third openly Gay person to sit on the Board. Subsequently, he also became the youngest elected official in the San Francisco Bay Area. He continues to push the envelope to fight for climate change-related initiatives, student voice, and changes in policy affecting LGBTQ+ students & staff. Alongside his colleagues, James has authored various resolutions and policies on the Board affirming the District's role in fighting the Climate Crisis.

James is also an active and unapologetic student activist. In the midst of his election, he ultimately enrolled in San Francisco State University for his BA in Political Science. Now a student lecturer in the historic Experimental College, he continues to progress toward being the first in his family to earn a four-year degree. Alongside his academic work, James works for the university's Associated Students - as Director of Government & Community Relations. In this role, he has partnered with over 20+ legislators, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and the California State Students Association to discuss the state of public higher education.

Throughout his career in both higher and k-12 education, James has not missed sight of the important advocacy needed to push public education forward. A former Senator Skinner and Assemblymember Bonta (fmr.) Intern, James actively advocates alongside legislators to look at things from a 360 view - to revitalize public education is to invest in public transportation, to work toward declaring housing as a human right, and much more in California.

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $5,179

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

Freethought Equality Fund PAC
Employees of Simple Floors
Employees of Amy Lee
Employees of Safeay
Employees of Solano Pride Center

More information about contributions

By State:

California 83.83%
District of Columbia 13.48%
Oregon 2.70%

By Size:

Large contributions (71.64%)
Small contributions (28.36%)

By Type:

From organizations (13.48%)
From individuals (86.52%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

James Aguilar is a progressive Democrat, striving for bold social change in an era where California has a unique opportunity to address the racial, environmental, and political mandate before us. James has worked on many progressive local and national campaigns - ranging from Jeromey Shafer for Mayor of San Leandro, to Pete for America. 

Position Papers

James' Plan for Public Education


Trustee James Aguilar's plan to address both public PreK-12 and higher education in California.

PreK-12 Education

California is the fifth (5th) largest economy in the world. Yet we remain 41st in the US for per-pupil funding--where we spend more per-prisoner than our students.​ ​A school board member, James understands that in any circumstance, we should not be at the bottom; we should be leading the way for education at all levels, and ensure that our system serves all instead of some. It's time for serious and bold overhauls. 

​James believes that California needs:​

  • Full and fair funding of all California PreK-12 public school districts.

  • To dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline.

  • To expand restorative justice practices in all schools.

  • A statewide form of teacher compensation in opposition to inequitable merit-based pay. Concurrently, we should fund incentives based on Title I/Low-Performance status, and improve overall teaching & learning conditions via funding for facilities and basic needs.

  • Reform of taxes beyond Prop 13; we must take the chance we have to lift property taxes and ensure corporations pay taxes on income, properties, and transactions - permanently.

  • Implementation of curriculum in all K-12 schools addressing the Climate Crisis.

  • Heightened charter and cyber school transparency.

  • Incentives for educators to become advocates by boosting union policies, ensuring action can not be taken against any teacher for activism, union participation and activities.

Higher Education

California has some of the best colleges and universities in the world. But, we still remain as one of the most inequitable when it comes to tuition to cost of living. It's our obligation and responsibility for our future to remove the many barriers in higher education.

​James believes that California needs:

  • To establish a path to tuition-free four-year universities (the CSU, and UC system).

  • An amendment of the state constitution allowing students, faculty, and other stakeholders a vote for UC Regents and CSU Trustees rather than the Governor themself.

  • Full funding of basic needs programs at all 23 CSUs, and all CA Community Colleges.

James' Plan for Public Transit


Trustee James Aguilar's plan to address public transit throughout the Bay Area and California.

Public Transportation 

Really, the access to free or affordable transportation is a cornerstone of our constantly moving society. The lack of funding for transportation affordability and transit infrastructure is a testament to the challenge we face. California needs to work toward convenient and highly reliable public transportation to get anywhere and everywhere.

​James believes that California needs:

  • Affordable electric/alternative modes of transportation, alongside affordable EV charging.

  • A Bay Area transit agency merger.

  • Expansion of bus and rail coverage.

  • Incentives for BART and other agencies in the state to transition to more affordable fares (if not, completely free ridership).

  • Improvement of transit infrastructure in order to increase frequency and reliability

James' Plan to Address the Climate Crisis


Trustee James Aguilar's plan to address mitigation efforts for the Climate Crisis in California.

The Climate Crisis

The threat of the climate crisis is real, and it is getting worse. This is what we know: Global temperatures have risen by nearly two degrees since the 19th century, mostly since 1984; our oceans are warming, with a rise of 0.4 degrees since 1969. This will ultimately lead to the extinction of many species in our waters, and the destruction of underwater habitats; sea levels are rising - this will contribute to damaging infrastructure and could displace many people; the concentration of CO2 is at its highest in 3m. years because of industrialization and non-efficient transportation.

 James believes that California needs:

  • A state declaration of climate rights naming the protection of our future as a human right.

  • Increased support for small agriculture.

  • Implementation of a sweeping reform to California clean infrastructure.

  • Passage of the California Green New Deal.

  • Improvement and expansion of BART/AC Transit to develop clean transit solutions.

  • To ban new and phase out old fossil fuel productions to pave the way for clean energy.

  • Require new and future construction to incorporate green options, and provide funds for workforce development to ensure these options are widely established.

Videos (1)

— June 4, 2021 James for California

Trustee James Aguilar's campaign announcement - and introduction to priorities and issues.

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