Peralta Community College Board of Trustees member Abel Guillen will seek a seat on the Oakland City Council this fall. Should he win the race, he would be the second person from the LGBT community in recent years to be elected to public office in the East Bay city.
Guillen, who identifies as two spirit and dates both men and women, officially entered the race this afternoon (Wednesday, March 26).
“I need a new pair of running shoes! I plan on talking to every voter in the District 2. Yep, I’m running for Oakland City Council! I hope you will join me to make Oakland work for Oakland!” Guillen announced in a Facebook post.
His announcement was hardly a surprise, as rumors of his candidacy had circulated for weeks. The pressure for him to run became public last month after gay Oakland Port Commissioner Michael Colbruno admitted that he had pulled papers himself for the race in order to convince Guillen to run.
Guillen appeared to foreshadow his intentions in a March 11 Facebook posting when he wrote, “Feeling fortunate to have served my community through the Peralta Colleges over the last 7 years as a trustee representing parts of central, West and North Oakland.”
Guillen, whose term on the college board is up this fall, added, “I have served with great colleagues on my Board and as a team we’ve managed very difficult budget and personnel decisions over the years because we’ve worked as team.”
In 2012 Guillen lost a bid for a state Assembly seat. While his college board district overlaps with the city council seat, Guillen had been living in a different council district.
In order to seek the District 2 seat, which covers Oakland’s Chinatown, Grand Lake, San Antonio, and Trestle Glen districts, Guillen needed to move.
He told the Bay Area Reporter today that, “Yes, I live in the district.”
The current officeholder, Councilwoman Pat Kernighan, opted not to seek re-election. She was appointed to the seat when her boss, gay City Councilman Danny Wan, resigned in 2005 to care for his elderly parents.
The only LGBT person currently serving on the council is lesbian Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, who holds the at-large seat.
Two other candidates are also seeking the District 2 seat: former KPIX news anchor Dana King and Sokhom Mao, a foster youth advocate who sits on the Oakland Citizens’ Police Review Board.