From policy wonk to politician, Ann Ravel eyes state Senate
Ann Ravel is running for California Senate District 15. Photo courtesy of Ann Ravel.

    Ann Ravel is not a politician. And, although she’s running her first campaign for elected office, she’s not a novice either.

    Ravel has served as an appointed government official at every level.

    She was Santa Clara County counsel for nearly a decade and worked in that office for years prior to her appointment by the Board of Supervisors. Gov. Jerry Brown tapped her to serve on California’s Fair Political Practices Commission. In 2009 President Barack Obama elevated her to a post in the Department of Justice, as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in charge of consumer litigation and torts. In 2013, Obama appointed her to the Federal Election Commission.

    Now, Ravel is running for California Senate District 15, which includes parts of San Jose, Campbell, Cupertino and Los Gatos.

    Ann Ravel

    Affordable health care and housing

    Ravel says income inequality — a longstanding problem in Silicon Valley — is the source of many of the region’s most pressing needs. Although the yawning gap between the haves and the have-nots has been self-evident for years, Ravel says the coronavirus has exacerbated the problem and made it even more visible.

    “It drives me crazy when people say that COVID has revealed the inequity here,” Ravel said. “It was obvious all along but it was easy for some people to ignore.”

    The pandemic has highlighted many of the issues surrounding income inequality. For example, many Californians who lost their jobs due to the pandemic also lost their health insurance. And between medical bills and day-to-day expenses, Ravel told San José Spotlight, many of those who have felt the financial impact of the virus are teetering on the brink of homelessness.

    Which is why Ravel says if she is elected she will focus on making sure health care is universal and affordable, small businesses stay afloat and quality education is available to help people get good jobs.

    Restoring faith in government

    “A lot of people distrust the government,” Ravel said. “They think that it works in favor of special interests that are not their own.”

    And it’s easy to understand why, she said.

    “Government makes a lot of decisions that apply unfairly,” she said.

    That distrust is bad for society, Ravel said, because when there is a sense that authority figures don’t play fair, people are more likely to rebel against injustices in the system by dropping out — they stop engaging with government officials and political leaders about the issues that concern their communities.

    Some people stop voting, or never cast a ballot at all because they believe government doesn’t care about them or is too impotent to help.

    “When people don’t trust the government they feel like they aren’t part of their community, they don’t believe that they are going to get a fair shake,” Ravel said. “I think we need to change that and we can. It’s not a good thing for our democracy. We’ve got to get back to a government that works for the people and that’s what I want to do.”

    ‘Her integrity is a given’

    Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian told San José Spotlight he is supporting Ravel because she has the necessary skills, work ethic and “a commitment to the values that the valley holds dear.”

    “Even when you disagree with Ann, you can feel absolutely confident that she is using her best judgement to do the right thing,” said Simitian, who is also a former assemblyman and state senator. “You never have to wonder about what is motivating her.”

    Simitian first got to know Ravel when she was working in the county counsel’s office. He’s currently a colleague of her opponent in the senate race — Supervisor Dave Cortese.

    “I know what the job entails,” Simitian said. “I have worked closely with both candidates in the runoff and it is clear to me that Ann is the better candidate. Her integrity is a given.”

    Simitian also praised Ravel’s accomplishments as a government official.

    “She’s done excellent work at the highest levels of government,” Simitian said, adding a candidate like that doesn’t come along every election. “We have an extraordinary opportunity to elect someone of national stature to represent us and it would be a shame to miss that opportunity.”

    According to campaign finance reports, Ravel has raised $706,587 and spent $534,524 from Jan. 1 to Sept. 19.


    “What’s the most important lesson you learned in 2020 and how has it prepared you for this role?”


    Name: Ann M. Ravel
    Age: 71
    Family: Married, 3 children, 5 grandchildren
    Political affiliation: Democrat
    Education: Willow Glen High School, University of California Berkeley, BA Philosophy, Law Degree UC Hastings Law School
    Profession: Consumer attorney, public official at county, state and federal government, Director, Digital Deception Project at MapLight, Adjunct Professor at UC Berkeley Law School
    Current or previous elected or appointed positions: County Counsel Santa Clara County, Deputy Assistant Attorney General in charge of Consumer Litigation and Torts, Department of Justice, chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, chair, vice chair and commissioner of the Federal Elections Commission.
    Top 3 priorities: All issues that relate to and exacerbate the extreme economic disparity in this valley, including access to affordable universal health care and affordable pharmaceuticals, the economy and oversight of the state budget to assure people can get back to work and have a livable wage and small business can thrive, and making sure all people can afford to live here so there is affordable housing and housing for the unsheltered.
    Top 3 endorsements: President Barack Obama, the Mercury News and San Francisco Chronicle
    Special talent: Complete honesty in all things
    In one sentence, why vote for you? “Vote for me as I am not a politician, instead I am a true public servant and also consumer advocate whose career has been defined by protecting people against fraud and abuse, standing up for people’s’ rights and solving some of our community´s more difficult problems.”

    Contact Adam F. Hutton at [email protected] or follow @adamfhutton on Twitter.

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