Many times in my career, I’ve heard the word “can’t.”
Kamala, you said you’re committed to social justice. You can’t be a prosecutor.
Kamala, you can’t beat an eight-year incumbent San Francisco District Attorney. It’s not your turn. It’s not your time.
You can’t run for Attorney General. It will be too hard, or too much work.
I’ve never been a fan of the word “can’t” – aimed at me, or anyone else. No child should feel they can’t get a high quality public school education because of the neighborhood in which they live. No student should think they can’t go to college because it costs too much. No woman should be told she can’t make her own decisions about her body. No person should live in the shadows because Washington can’t pass comprehensive immigration reform. No hard-working American should believe they can’t find a job that will support their family. America is a place built on “can,” where opportunity exists for everyone. California families depend on that.
No matter how many people said I couldn’t do it, I won my races for District Attorney and Attorney General. I’m a fighter – I’ve fought for the people of California, especially those most in need. And now I’m ready to take that fight to Washington.
My name is Kamala, and I’m running for United States Senate.
Born in Oakland, CA
My mother Shyamala was born in India and came to the United States to study science, specifically endocrinology and the complex mechanisms of cancer. My father Donald grew up in Jamaica, where he became a national scholar and earned the opportunity to study economics.
My parents were both graduate students at the University of California at Berkeley. I grew up with a stroller’s-eye view of the civil rights movement, and often I joke that
as a child I was surrounded by adults marching and shouting for this thing called justice. My younger sister, Maya, and I grew up around adults who were committed to service and community involvement. And it wasn’t just my parents.
It was Mrs. Shelton, a second mother to me, who ran the nursery school. She constantly reached out to, nurtured, and supported neglected children and women in the community who were desperately trying to keep their families together. Mrs. Shelton lived by the belief that you always lend a hand to those in need.
It was Mrs. Wilson, my first grade teacher at Thousand Oaks Elementary School in Berkeley. We were a diverse group and Mrs. Wilson had a profound effect on all of us.
When I graduated law school, Mrs. Wilson, with pride, watched me walk the stage and receive my degree.
The idols of my youth – the architects of the civil rights era – such as Thurgood Marshall, Charles Hamilton Houston, and Constance Baker Motley, inspired me from a young age to want to be a lawyer and fight for the voiceless and for justice.
Prosecuting Violent Crime
I received my undergraduate bachelor of arts degree from Howard University, and my law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
I began my career in the Alameda County District Attorney’s office. I wanted to be a prosecutor because I believed that those most likely to be preyed upon in our society are those that are most vulnerable – children, immigrants, women, the poor, people subject to hate crimes. My work is grounded in the belief that a crime against any one of us is a crime against all of us. Which is why when someone is charged with a crime, the formal complaint doesn’t read the name of the victim versus the defendant. It reads “the PEOPLE vs. the defendant.” And it’s that philosophy that drives me to this day.
I became one of two women selected to intern in the Alameda County DA’s office, and I was subsequently offered a job as a deputy DA. As a courtroom prosecutor in Alameda County I handled some of the worst cases you can think of, including homicides and sexual assault crimes against children. From there I moved into the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, where I led the Career Criminal Unit, prosecuting repeat offenders. I also led the San Francisco City Attorney’s Division on Children and Families.
I believed San Francisco deserved one of the best public law firms in the country, and that we needed a new approach to fighting crime. So, in 2003, I challenged and defeated an eight-year incumbent to become the first woman, the first African American, and the first South Asian District Attorney of San Francisco.
The vision I set forth for my tenure as DA was to challenge the false choice that we must either be “soft” or “tough” on crime, and set forth a new vision for public safety that focuses on prevention, combating recidivism, and addressing the root causes of crime, rather than just treating its symptoms. I’m incredibly proud of what my office accomplished in combating truancy; prosecuting gun crimes; fighting domestic violence; creating Back on Track, a nationally recognized initiative to reduce recidivism; and making our communities safer.
I wrote a book, “Smart on Crime,” to detail these innovations in criminal justice, and to provide information on how we implemented these reforms in San Francisco.
In 2010, I decided to run for Attorney General believing that the innovative work we did in San Francisco should be done statewide. I took on and beat a very popular Republican District Attorney from Los Angeles to become California’s 32nd Attorney General – and once again, the first woman, the first African American, and the first South Asian to hold the office in our state’s history.
My mother told me: “You may be the first to do many things, but make sure you’re not the last.” And that’s what I’ve worked to do.
Serving as CA’s Attorney General
As chief law enforcement officer for the State of California, my office has focused on combating transnational gangs, working with Mexico to prevent gangs from bringing guns and drugs across our border. We have also worked to fight human trafficking, safeguard California’s many environmental protection laws from efforts to weaken them, and improve public safety by reducing recidivism.
I’ve fought to reduce elementary school truancy, preserve the state’s natural resources, increase the adoption of technology and data-driven policing by law enforcement, and ensure marriage equality for all Californians. I’ve also worked with the technology industry to improve online privacy and safety, and developed new tools to fight cyber exploitation.
The national foreclosure crisis was one of the first things that I had to tackle after my election as Attorney General. Negotiations for a national settlement started shortly after that, and I thought the amount being offered by the banks was too little. California was ground zero in our nation’s foreclosure crisis, and I thought homeowners deserved better. I fought the big banks and secured from them more than $20 billion for struggling California homeowners. Subsequently, we wrote the country’s most comprehensive package of foreclosure reforms, the California Homeowner Bill of Rights.
As Attorney General, I also created the Division of Recidivism Reduction and Re-entry at the California Department of Justice so that we could improve public safety by focusing on combating recidivism and addressing the root causes of crime, rather than just treating its symptoms. And I created the Bureau of Children’s Justice to institutionalize my longstanding work of protecting our state’s children.
From my first job until now, whenever I’ve prosecuted a criminal, protected a child, or stood up for a Californian, my work has been about fighting for the vulnerable and voiceless, and making our state a safe, equitable place for all families to live and thrive.
After nearly two years of hard work and dedication, I am proud to tell you that we won our election. I am humbled and honored to serve you and the people of California in the U.S. Senate.
Thank you for everything you have done in this election. I am humbled by the fact that we would not be here without you.
This campaign for Senate has ended, but the work is just beginning. Please stay involved. Please own a piece of the next four years and help us fight for the future of this country.