Gay Oakland resident Richard Fuentes announced Thursday (April 3) that he is running for a seat on the Peralta Community College Board of Trustees.
The Area 7 Peralta seat is open, as current trustee, Abel Guillen, who identifies as two-spirit, has announced he will be running for the District 2 Oakland City Council seat.
Voters will decide both races in November. If elected, Fuentes would be the only out LGBT member on the college board.
Fuentes, 31, has long advocated for public schools. He is the site president for Hoover Elementary School in Oakland.
“I have always been committed to education,” Fuentes said in a news release announcing his candidacy. “As the first person in my family to graduate from college, I understand firsthand the importance a good education can have on your life, your family, and the community.”
Already, Fuentes has lined up a wide array of supporters, including Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), Peralta Community College Vice President Meredith Brown, Oakland school board President David Kakishiba, Oakland Vice Mayor Larry Reid, and state Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, who is running for state controller.
“Richard’s experience in improving educational outcomes for Oakland students shows he has the commitment and policy sills necessary to lead,” Bonta said in the news release. “Richard understands the importance of our community colleges in training the East Bay’s future leaders and skilled workforce, and Richard’s record of preparing students for success will serve the Peralta Community College District well.”
Fuentes told the Bay Area Reporter that he expects to meet soon with Guillen to discuss his candidacy. Guillen has not yet endorsed in the race.
LGBT supporters include Alameda County Board of Education member Joaquin Rivera, BART board member Rebecca Saltzman, Oakland Port Commissioner Michael Colbruno, and former Oakland City Councilmember Danny Wan. Fuentes has also picked up support from gay San Franciscans, including City College Trustee Rafael Mandelman and Supervisor David Campos, who is in his own tight race for an Assembly seat.
The district comprises four campuses in northern Alameda County: Laney College and Merritt College in Oakland; the College of Alameda; and Berkeley City College. There are seven elected trustees.
While he is not a parent, Fuentes said that he got involved at Hoover school after parents there asked him to help Spanish-speaking parents. His effectiveness led to him joining the site council. The school is now the most improved elementary campus in West Oakland.
“My decision to run is about my ongoing commitment to serve people in my community,” Fuentes stated. “We need trustees on the board who place student interests first: people who are not afraid to be leaders, and people who understand how to set sound educational policies for the classroom and see that they are implemented – action not just talk.”
Fuentes, who ran unsuccessfully for the Oakland school board two years ago, is the partner of community leader Sean Sullivan. The couple is in the process of opening the Port bar, an LGBT bar that will be located on Broadway in the city’s Uptown neighborhood.
For more information, see www.richardfuentes.com.