After months of speculation, former FEC commissioner Ann Ravel on Monday jumped into the race to replace Silicon Valley Senator Jim Beall next year.
“I care a lot about California, and I want to do things that are in the public interest,” Ravel said in an interview with San José Spotlight on Monday. “I’m interested only in doing what’s good for the people. I’ve been doing so much in the area of campaign finance and it’s influenced me a lot.”
Ravel, who was appointed to the Federal Election Commission in 2013 by President Barack Obama, filed papers Monday with the California Secretary of State’s Office to run for the seat and opened her committee, “Ravel for Senate 2020.”
Before joining the FEC, Ravel served as chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission. The longtime attorney monitored campaign finance regulations, lobbyist registration and reporting, ethics and conflicts of interest inquiries. Ravel also helped create a web-based center for sharing information on campaign finance.
Ravel previously worked in the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and served as an attorney in the Santa Clara County Counsel’s Office. She now works at McManis Faulkner, a prominent downtown San Jose law firm.
Ravel said Monday that campaign finance reform and transparency in government will be cornerstones of her campaign, but she’s also focused on addressing economic disparities and improving the lives of Californians.
“To be in D.C. and to see how public policy is generally reflective of corporate interests, wealthy interests and doesn’t reflect the people… I know that California isn’t like that for the most part,” Ravel said. “You can really make a difference here in all the issues I see around me, including income disparity and climate change, the issues we’re facing with the fires, the droughts and education.”
Ravel said she was inspired by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget and priorities, saying that they align closely with hers. The powerhouse attorney said she’ll also focus on addressing the state’s affordable housing crisis and severe traffic congestion.
“The fact that my son who is in his 30s couldn’t even afford to live in an apartment here and had to move to Santa Rosa,” Ravel said. “All these things are so important and the change we can make in California with these types of policies can make a difference throughout the country.”
Ravel will face off with a slew of elected officials and former politicians in the crowded race, including Councilman Johnny Khamis, Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, former Assemblywoman Nora Campos and possibly Supervisor Ken Yeager.
Khamis said Monday he’d spoken to Ravel about running for the seat and he’s not surprised she jumped into the race.
“We have talked and she had expressed interest,” Khamis said. “And I think her and I are more aligned than the others in the field. I think she’s probably a lot more fiscally conservative than others in the field and enjoys a good reputation in the community. She’s going to be a formidable candidate for sure — there’s no doubt about it.”
Senate District 15 spans most of Santa Clara County, including San Jose, Campbell, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and Saratoga. The district is home to more than 900,000 residents.
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