Aisha Wahab’s campaign for Senate District 10 gains momentum

original article published February 10, 2022 by the Milpitas Beat

Aisha Wahab is on a mission.

It’s a simple one. She just wants all of us to move forward together. As one. As a community. Regardless of race, gender, or economic status. This has been the driving force behind her political career to date, and it will be her message to voters come November, when the race for State Senator of District 10 will be decided.

Says Wahab, “I want everyone to believe in that American Dream again.”

Senate District 10 includes cities from both Alameda County and Santa Clara County, like Milpitas, Fremont, Union City, Newark, and Hayward.

Bob Wieckowski, the current State Senator for District 10, terms out this year, and he is endorsing the young Afghan-American. “I proudly endorse Aisha Wahab to fill my seat for State Senate and represent our district,” he said in a recent press release. “From San Jose to Hayward, Aisha organizes and works across this district standing up for everyday people – including seniors, women and children, Veterans, and the disabled. Aisha is the only candidate with the leadership ability, Democratic values, and track record to move California forward.”

Another candidate, Jaime Raul Zepeda, whom we covered in a previous article, has had to end his campaign because the city where he lives, Castro Valley, has been removed from District 10 in recent redistricting adjustments.

Said Zepeda in a January 10 press release, “I am proud to have run a campaign that was squarely focused on putting our people and our planet first. That is also why I am very excited to endorse Hayward Councilmember Aisha Wahab for State Senate District 10.”

Wahab has also garnered endorsements from Assemblymember Alex Lee, Attorney General Rob Bonta, State Treasurer Fiona Ma, and former State Senator Jim Beall.

“I’m proud to have earned the endorsements of community leaders and organizations serving Senate District 10 and beyond,” Wahab posted on her website.

Indeed, it would appear that the political community is rallying behind her, a bad sign for her rivals, who include Fremont Mayor Lily Mei and Santa Clara Unified School Board Member Jim Canova. But this is nothing new for Wahab, who learned early on what it means to be part of the community: “I grew up in foster care, so I’ve relied heavily on community support my entire life.”

Wahab was born in New York City to Afghan parents, who had fled their country during the Soviet occupation of the 1980s. When she was a small child, her father was murdered and her mother died young, catapulting her into the American foster care system. She was raised in the Bay Area by her foster parents, and eventually adopted by a young couple in Fremont.

Photo courtesy of Aisha Wahab.

The young Wahab adapted well to her new West Coast life, graduating from Kennedy High School and taking classes at Ohlone College. She went on to receive a BA in Political Science from San Jose State and a Masters in Business Administration from CSU East Bay. In 2011, her parents’ business failed, and they could no longer afford to live in Fremont. They lost their home, Aisha lost her job, and her father’s health began to decline. They decided to move to Hayward.

It was at this point that Wahab began having political aspirations. “My entire family has always been focused on community work. When the economic downturn happened, we lost everything. It made me think about others in this position, and I wanted to help. I didn’t feel that our elected officials really understood community needs.”

While Wahab had sat on nonprofit boards and had always been involved in community work growing up, with the move to Hayward came a new outlook that galvanized her spirit. She began to advocate for affordable housing at council meetings.

In 2018, when she ran for Hayward City Council to help represent renters, she won, becoming the first Afghan American Woman elected to Public Office in the United States.

During her short time on the Hayward City Council, Wahab has consistently pushed on policies that strive to affect systemic change. “My policies that have gone through have been supported unanimously by council, because they’re well thought-out, balanced, and they move the entire community forward,” says Wahab.

She cites the increase in low-income housing in Hayward as a prime example of enacting a policy that serves everyone. Permanent affordable rental units increased from 1,000 to 10,000 units during her tenure. “We need to make sure that our residents are taken care of. They are priority number one. The anti-displacement policies that I have pushed are to help the people were born here, who were raised here, who work and live here. They deserve to be able to afford to stay here.”

When the pandemic hit, Wahab was on the front lines, securing grant funding to help purchase Chromebooks for Hayward Unified students. Says Wahab, “You would think that in the Bay Area, everyone would have access to the Internet. Not true! We need to take care of those in our community who are most vulnerable.”

She also secured grant funding for small businesses to help sustain them during these trying times, and she was one of the first people in Alameda County to push policy that would help property owners retain ownership of their properties. One of the first Homeless Navigation Centers in the Bay Area was set up in Hayward.

Photo courtesy of Aisha Wahab.

Wahab is proud of how the City of Hayward has responded to Covid-19: “Our response has been second to none. We established the first free testing site in the nation, which was set up within 1-2 weeks of the Shelter-In-Place order. We also had the first free vaccination clinic. People came to Hayward to see what we were doing so they could replicate it in their own city.”

Hayward’s timely response to the recent influx of Afghan refugees is another point of pride for Wahab. Funds were collected and resources provided to those fleeing from the Taliban as the community opened its arms in solidarity. Wahab took center stage in the international crisis.

Now Wahab has her sights on the state government, where she promises to focus on jobs, income inequality, and housing. She has lived and worked in District 10 practically her entire life, so she considers it her own district, and is looking forward to representing its residents. Says Wahab, “I have the energy, the desire, and the passion to do this job. We’re building a coalition so that we can create a future for everyone.”

More info is available at www.aishawahab.com.

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