Bonta said she would lean on her experience in managing the reopening of public schools in the city of Alameda this year. Elementary school children in the district began a return to classroom instruction back in March. Middle and high school students are set to begin hybrid learning next week.
"That experience of having to deal with COVID and considering reopening our schools is really the drive behind why I decided to run, in a lot of ways," Bonta said. "People have been in pain, they've been struggling. The incidence of mental health needs have increased substantially for our students and our families."
If elected, Bonta said she'll prioritize education and housing affordability.
"These issues ... are personal for me, I grew up and my family moved 13 times in 16 years," Bonta said. "I have built into me the experience of feeling that housing insecurity, and I know the impact that has on one's ability to be able to get work, to keep work, to keep an education, to be focused on an educational pathway."
Since 2012, District 18, which includes most of Oakland, along with the cities of Alameda and San Leandro, has been represented by Rob Bonta, a Democrat.
His nomination to be the state's attorney general has created an opening in one of the state's most liberal districts, where nearly two-thirds of voters are registered as Democrats.
Three candidates have already made plans to run for the seat: San Leandro school board member James Aguilar, social justice attorney Janani Ramachandran and Alameda City Councilmember Malia Vella.
In special elections that have seen low levels of voter turnout in the past, candidates with familiar names typically enjoy a marked advantage.