Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan was part of a jubilant crowd at Pyramid Alehouse in Walnut Creek on Tuesday night, shortly after President Obama's reelection had been confirmed at the Central Contra Costa Democratic Campaign Election Party.
Buchanan was on her way to winning her third two-year term to represent the 16th Assembly District against challenger Republican Al Phillips, with 58 percent of the vote.
"I just want to say I'm thankful with the results and honored to represent the people in the Valley for two more years," Buchanan said.
She and Assemblyman Susan Bonilla addressed the crowd with Bonilla first speaking and saying that she had been fortunate to be unopposed.
"I've always had opponents," Buchanan said, citing her runs for the San Ramon Valley Unified School District board, where she served 18 years, and her last two runs for the Assembly.
"I'm excited about my new district," she continued, which runs from Livermore to Pleasanton, Dublin and north along the I-680 corridor and west to include Lamorinda. Her former 15th District included parts of Sacramento and San Joaquin counties.
Buchanan was hopeful that Proposition 30, Gov. Brown's proposal to fund education, would pass.
"If Prop 30 wins, then our schools win, which is as important as all of us winning," she said.
Then she led the crowd in the chant, "Four more years! Four more years!"
Buchanan is the newly appointed chair of the Assembly Education Committee. Her main campaign points were budget reform, jobs and the economy, and protecting education.
Calling the state budget process outdated and outmoded, she said on her reelection website, "My experience balancing budgets in the corporate world as well as my 18 years balancing budgets on the San Ramon Unified School District Board, taught me that benchmarks, review and accountability are key to effective management of limited financial resources."
She also campaigned on her support for legislative actions to create jobs.
"It must be our top priority," she said.
Since she was first elected to the Assembly in 2008, Buchanan said she has traveled across the 15th District, from Walnut Creek to Livermore, from Oakley and Brentwood to Elk Grove and Galt, meeting with parents, educators, administrators and students to hear their stories about the impacts of recent education cuts.
"These informal 'Classroom Cabinet' meetings keep me well informed about the issues and guide many of the education related bills I introduce and support," she said.
Buchanan, who lives in Alamo, has parted with her Democratic party on some business issues and has backed changes in public pensions opposed by organized labor. At the same time, she opposed SB 1530, which would have made it easier to fire teachers accused of serious misconduct.
Buchanan authored AB 1772, which would mandate kindergarten, this year; it is now optional for parents and since it would establish a new state mandate, it's unlikely to pass. But one bill that did pass, two years ago, set in motion a quality rating scale for preschools that put the state in position for a federal $50 million early childhood Race to the Top grant.
"I do not have a predetermined agenda," Buchanan said. "I plan to do all I can to ensure that every child in California receives a high quality education. Given our current funding challenges, it will be important to bring the entire education community together and seek consensus.