"Our unity is our strength."
Malia serves as the Chair of the California State Board of Equalization (representing the 2nd district which covers 23 counties in California and a population of approximately 9.5 million people) and was recently appointed to the Police Commission in hopes of bringing social justice reform given her work in creating the Department of Police Accountability and pushing to end the use of chokeholds by the Police Department. She previously served as President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors representing District 10 where her legislation expanded an existing San Francisco law making it illegal to sell firearms with magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. She co-authored legislation barring employers and landlords from asking applicants to state their criminal history on applications and has publicly defended San Francisco's sanctuary city Laws, which drew the attention of Fox News Host Bill O'Reilly.
Name: Malia Cohen
Location: San Francisco, CA
Role: Chair of the California State Board of Equalization
Coalition(s): African American, woman
Social Media: @malia.cohen
Can you tell us about the office you are running for/your current elected position?
I represent 10 million Californians in 23 counties, a quarter of the state's population on the California State Board of Equalization. Along with my four colleagues, including the State Controller, we administer California's $70 billion property tax system that funds schools and local governments. After I was first elected in 2018 and joined the Board, I was elected Chair of the Board, the first African American woman to have that responsibility in the 140 year history of the Board.
What made you decide to run for office? When I was in grammar school our class visited the Mayor's Office in San Francisco City Hall. In the midst of that beautiful building I understood then that truly being at the table and achieving progress was best accomplished by being an elected official. After years of community service and working in elected officials' offices I knew I was ready for the challenge of running for office. I ran for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 2010, and won against a field of 22 candidates. I also served as President of the Board of Supervisors, and now I am on the Board of Equalization.
What is the most important issue you are focusing on in your campaign? First and foremost government at all levels must be relevant and responsive to the day to day challenges that people face, particularly communities of color. That is a basic foundation. This means: providing the resources to address economic injustice; guaranteeing a path for a safe, secure, and prosperous life open to all without discrimination; and, responding to the fierce need to address the impact of systemic racism on our communities. Right now, I am focused on electing Kamala Harris to become our first African American Vice President, and on passing Proposition 16, a state constitutional amendment that would restore affirmative action in hiring and contracting for California's governments and public institutions.
Why is the leadership of Black women needed right now? African American women are in the forefront of political action. We are a decisive force for change that everyday is inspiring millions to participate in our political system and to make change happen. In just a few weeks we have an opportunity to elect our sister Kamala Harris to the Vice Presidency. It doesn't get more real than that, and we have to marshall all of our great and gifted intelligence, strength, and commitment to make sure that African American women are represented by an African American Vice President, and that our sisters are represented at every level of national, state, and local government.
What advice would you give other women who want to get involved in their community or who want to get involved in their community or run for office? Today is the day to start. Remember, our unity is our strength. Once you become engaged, whether working in your community or running for office, you will find an amazing network of women who share your vision for a better future. You will soon learn that you are part of an enormous and beautiful community of very powerful women who will become your allies and your supporters.