Meet Jovanka

As a counselor for underserved youth, I’ve seen how the lives of our kids and their families can be transformed. As a two-term Richmond, CA, City Council member, I’ve seen how neighbors can organize a city from hopelessness, violence, and systemic corruption to a much better future. Now I am running for the California State Assembly to help transform our state.

Jovanka (far left) with wife Nicole (far right) and family

I attended Florida A&M on a full basketball scholarship, graduating cum laude. My story is the story of California. I was born in Panama City, Panama and immigrated to the U.S. with my parents in 1972. They taught me the critical value of respect for others as I experienced the challenge of adjusting to a new culture.

Basketball taught me how to work as part of a team and how to collaborate, and that a teammate’s success is the whole team’s victory.

As a long-time resident of Richmond, I could not sit on the sidelines and watch a vibrant community continue to suffer with crime, neglect, and pollution. I decided to help create a local grassroots movement, and I helped form a merchants' association on San Pablo Avenue as a community response to crime and violence.

With these experiences, I joined forces with the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), ran for the city council, and was elected to office. When I ran for re-election, I received a lesson in how corporate special interests try to dominate the political process.

As a mental health professional, Jovanka works to develop paths to success for all students

In 2014, Chevron spent over $3 million against me and my running mates because we insisted on strong environmental protections for our community. However, Chevron lost when thousands of Richmond residents re-elected me and voted for a progressive direction for our city.

I stood up to big real estate interests and helped Richmond become the first new rent control city in over thirty years. Big Soda spent millions as I campaigned to tax their deeply unhealthy products and invest the funds in nutrition and youth athletics. Working with law enforcement, I created the Richmond Municipal ID Program, which allows immigrants to safely identify themselves to the police. I introduced and led the effort to raise the minimum wage and "banned the box" (removed questions about former conviction) in job applications for city contractors and public housing applications in Richmond.

Billion-dollar corporations that buy elections are not going to create the future we all want for California. That is why I do not take contributions from corporations and never will.

As your State Assemblymember, my priorities will be the people’s priorities.

Please join me in my campaign for a progressive future for California. 


To get in touch with my campaign feel free to call (510) 621-7566 or email us at