After serving six months as Milpitas’ vice mayor, Karina Dominguez says she’s ready “to make history” again.
Dominguez announced exclusively to San José Spotlight that she’s running for Assembly District 25, a highly-contested seat vacated by Kansen Chu who told this news organization in May that he’s leaving Sacramento to run for county supervisor. Dominguez, 37, became a firecracker lawmaker in Milpitas after winning a crowded City Council race in 2018 and then being appointed vice mayor.
“For me, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” Dominguez said in an interview Thursday. “I’ve been speaking to community members who have reached out to me and asked me to run because they’ve seen how I’ve been able to perform at the City Council level. If I don’t do this now, I’d have to wait 12 years for an opportunity. You can’t wait on an opportunity like this.”
Assemblymembers can serve up to a dozen years in California. Most members easily win re-election in their districts.
The announcement pits Dominguez against her colleague, Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran, who dropped out of a county supervisor’s race to seek Chu’s AD 25 seat. Other candidates in the race include Santa Clara County Board of Education Trustee Anna Song, Santa Clara Unified School District Board of Trustee Jim Canova and San Jose policy advisor Alex Lee, who jumped into the race on Monday.
Dominguez said she’s ready for a promotion because she’s fulfilled many of her campaign promises in Milpitas — initiatives that include updating the city’s outdated sexual harassment policy, establishing a critical council committee, launching a beautification fund and devoting $2 million to help residents facing displacement.
Despite Milpitas’ two leading lawmakers vying for one Assembly seat, Dominguez said she and Tran have vowed to remain “respectful” to one another.
“Rich and I have profound respect for each other and we understand the importance of representing Milpitas in all things,” she said. “We both believe that this is an opportunity of a lifetime. But we’re two different people with two different perspectives. We do things differently.”
Tran, however, said Dominguez’s decision to leave her seat in Milpitas hurts the community that was counting on her to serve a full term.
“The one thing that hurts my heart about Karina’s announcement is the impact it will have on Milpitas families,” Tran said Thursday. “Ask any resident in Milpitas and they’ll tell you they were counting on her to serve four years at a time the community needed her the most. And after six months of her four year commitment, she’s already looking to move on. That hurts Milpitas families.”
Referring to himself, Tran added that Dominguez is running against the “hometown mayor with back to back landslide victories winning 44 out of of 45 precinct each of those years.”
But Dominguez isn’t backing down from her bid. People told her she would never win a seat on the Milpitas City Council, Dominguez said — and she did it. Now, she faces bigger obstacles such as raising a significant amount of money statewide and running a campaign both in Sacramento and in the district.
The Assembly district in recent memory has never had a female representative, and Silicon Valley lacks women lawmakers in Sacramento. Dominguez said she’s ready for the challenge.
“In the state races, we hear a lot that you need the financial support, you need big donations, you need big endorsements,” Dominguez said. “The most important thing that I need is support of every individual – that means a ‘like’ on Facebook or donating $20.20 to our campaign. Every individual donation will help us get a win for working families and ensure there’s someone in Sacramento that’s part of the working class who is invested in our community. We want to make history again.”
Song, the only other female in the Assembly race, declined to comment on Dominguez jumping in, but said she’s “the only candidate who represented a majority portion of AD 25 for 19 years and kept (her) promise to the constituents by fulfilling every term.”
Dominguez on Thursday also touted her familiarity with the district, having worked as a legislative aide for both Chu and state Sen. Bob Wieckowski, who represents part of the district. Running for the Assembly is a safe bet for Dominguez — if she loses, she can return to her seat on the Milpitas City Council.
“I want to change the narrative of who runs for these positions of power and help the community understand why 2020 is so important,” Dominguez said. “We’re ready to empower, motivate, lead with passion and heart and ensure a win for our community.”
Contact Ramona Giwargis at r[email protected] or follow @RamonaGiwargis on Twitter.