As I See It – Bonta’s appointment as Attorney General is a welcome move, timely, excellent!

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In the light of the recent hate crimes leveled against Asian-Americans, the appointment of Asian state lawmaker Rob Bonta as California’s Attorney General (AG) by Governor Gavin Newsom is a welcome move, very timely, and an excellent appointment! As an Asian-American and as a Californian, I applaud him for that! It’s not that he got his job because he is an Asian-American (well, partly yes due to the present situation) but because he is a dedicated and progressive leader who cares for his constituents as shown in his previous jobs and positions in the past as a progressive fighter against injustices and as an innovative/creative lawmaker.

Newsom said Wednesday afternoon in a statement: “Rob represents what makes California great – our desire to take on righteous fights and reverse systematic injustices.” He has been fighting social and racial injustices through linkages, cooperation, and legislation.

The job was formally opened since Xavier Becerra was confirmed last week as the head of President Joe Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services, where he will help lead the nation’s pandemic thrusts to win the war against the virus.

It takes an Asian to understand the fate of Asians! It was very timely and I think Newsom was just right in selecting Bonta to be California’s AG because he is a fighter, a crusading lawmaker, and a principled government official.

Let us be discreet though that Bonta got the job not because he was an Asian (although partly yes because of the recent hate crimes against Asian Americans) but because he has a wide experience and credibility as a progressive lawmaker, and as a result, many individuals and groups applauded his appointment.

Bonta will be the first Filipino-American to be the state’s “top cop” (Shawn Hubler) and the second Asian American with Vice President Kamala Harris as the first. He was born in the Philippines and grew up in the Central Valley, where his parents’ civil rights activists Cynthia and Warren Bonta, helped organize farmworkers alongside Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and Larry Itliong. The family eventually moved to the Sacramento area but he remained associating with the workforce and the farm workers, just like his parents were.

Calling his appointment/job “the honor of a lifetime,” he said he became a lawyer “because I saw the best way to make a positive difference for the most people.”

He is a graduate of Yale University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in history and his law degree. He was a former San Francisco deputy city attorney, and served briefly in the Alameda City Council before running for State Assembly. He was first elected as a State Assemblyman in 2012.

Bonta is a member of the State Assembly who has represented the East Bay since 2012. I remember his first bill (AB 123) becoming a law when it was signed by then Governor Jerry Brown. He cared for the working class and with this law he sponsored, he elevated the status of the contributions of the Filipino-American farmers (known as the Manongs who led the first farm protest in Delano known as the “Grape Uprising” in 1965 to raise better farm working condition and wages) in their contributions to the California’s farm labor movement.

The Prosecutors Alliance of California applauded his appointment in a statement saying: “As a State Assembly member, Mr. Bonta fought to end cash bail and cure the conflict of interest that occurs when elected prosecutors receive financial and political support from law enforcement unions. He is a leader that has dedicated his career to protecting and uplifting vulnerable communities.”

As the state’s top law enforcement officer, Karthick Ramakrishna, a professor of political science at the University of California, Riverside, who has worked with Bonta on the state’s Commission on Asian-American Pacific Islander Affairs (APIA), said “Mr. Bonta has been really strong on immigrant rights.”

He pushed for more transparency from law enforcement agencies about their cooperation with federal immigration authorities, and thus sought better data collection on Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities – information that advocates have said is crucial for addressing hate crimes and incidences of discrimination.

With these credentials, he is a very good fit for the AG position and President Biden was just right in appointing him.

Congratulatory messages were sent by Milpitas Councilmember Evelyn Chua; Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran; former councilmember Atty. Gary Barbadillo; former District Assemblyman and now a member of the Berryessa School Board Kansen Chu;  Santa Clara County Commissioner Linda Reyes; Founding President of The Global Urdanetanians (TGU) Lino Caringal, Jr.; former PUP Professors Lito Roldan and Rudolfo Brillantes who now both reside in California; and Immediate Past President of Milpitas Executive Lions Club Benjie Fernandez.

Attorney General Rob Bonta, congratulations and more power to you! The Asian-American community is behind you and will make sure you succeed in your new job as the top law enforcer in California!

Governor Newsom, you did it again! You reshuffled the Democratic power in the state of California with your three major appointments – Senator Alex Padilla replacing vice president Kamala Harris; Shirley Weber replacing Mr. Padilla as secretary of state; and now Bonta as Attorney General replacing Xavier Becerra.

Kudos to California which sent Senator Kamala Harris to the White House as Biden’s Vice President!

AG Bonta, keep it up and more power to you! Again, congratulations… the Asian community is proud of you!

(ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com.)

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