Candidates for Secretary of State


Meet the three candidates for Secretary of State: 


Derek Cressman

 For the past 19 years, Derek Cressman has been a national leader in the fight for fair elections, expanded democracy, and more transparent government. Until June of 2013, Derek Cressman served as Vice President of State Operations for Common Cause, a non-partisan government watchdog organization.

 He previously held the positions of Western States Regional Director and Assistant Director for Election Reform. He is a registered Democrat but is committed to administering the Secretary of State’s office in a non-partisan manner.

 Cressman has worked professionally as a good government advocate since 1995 when he directed the Democracy Program for the Public Interest Research Groups. He has worked to pass and implement California’s Independent Redistricting Commission, enact California’s on-line voter registration system, and filed a successful complaint at the Fair Political Practices Commission that led to an investigation of $11 million that was secretly spent on our elections in 2012.  Two organizations linked to the Koch Brothers network received a record fine as a result of Derek’s work.

 He has testified before the U.S. Senate, California Assembly and Senate, served as an expert in federal litigation, and authored numerous reports as well as the book, The Recall’s Broken Promise—How Big Money Still Runs California Politics.

 Cressman began his career as a community organizer working with students at UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley around environmental issues. He graduated with honors from Williams College with a degree in political science in 1990.

 He lives in Sacramento with his wife and two children.


 Alex Padilla

Through fifteen years in elected office, Senator Alex Padilla has built an impressive record of accomplishment and has been recognized for his exceptional leadership skills. Now Alex Padilla is running for Secretary of State to engage millions of new voters and make it easier to start a business in the biggest state in the country.

 As State Senator, Alex Padilla represents more than 1.1 million people in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles.  Eighty Padilla bills have been signed into law since he was elected to the State Senate in 2006.  Around the Capitol named Padilla one of 2013’s “Most Effective Legislators,” citing his ability to “take on big bills and keep warring parties within the caucus.”

 Frequently mentioned as one of America’s Latino rising stars, Alex Padilla is President of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, representing 6,000 Latino leaders nationwide. Winning a seat on the LA City Council at age 26, Alex Padilla was later elected by his peers as Council President, becoming the first Latino and youngest member ever to serve as President.

 Like so many Californians, Padilla’s parents immigrated here in pursuit of the American Dream.  His father, a retired member of UNITE HERE, worked as a cook and his mother cleaned houses.  Alex Padilla grew up in the working class neighborhood of Pacoima and graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in mechanical engineering.  He lives in the San Fernando Valley with his wife Angela and their two sons.


Leland Yee

After serving four years in the California State Assembly, Leland Yee was elected to the State Senate in November 2006 with the largest winning percentage for any Democratic candidate.  In 2010, Senator Yee was re-elected, receiving the most votes of any Democratic legislator in the State. Yee is the first Chinese American ever elected to the California State Senate.

Senator Yee has fought for children, mental health services, working families, seniors, education, open government, consumer protection, civil rights, election reform, and the environment.  He has consistently voted against budget cuts to education, social services, and health care.

Yee has been named “Legislator of the Year” by the American Psychological Association, California School Employees Association, California Psychiatric Association, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, Community College Association, San Francisco Women’s Political Committee, California Faculty Association, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

In 2013, Senator Leland Yee had 14 bills chaptered into law. Most notably, SB 44 requires all websites operated by the state of California to add a link to the Secretary of State’s voter registration page. SB 286 extends the Green Sticker program, incentivizing the use of plug-in hybrid vehicles so clean our air and reduce our carbon footprint. SB 528 provides assistance to pregnant and parenting foster youth. SB 553 increases oversight standards for fee elections. SB 751 required large intergovernmental agencies to comply with the Brown Act, keeping them more accountable to the public. SJR 14 called upon Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act.

Candidates for State Controller-John A. Perez and Betty Yee

Get to know the candidates for State Controller:


John A. Perez

John A. Pérez has dedicated his career to improving the lives of Californians and advancing the prosperity of our state.  

Growing up in the working class communities of East Los Angeles, John’s parents taught him the value of hard work and community service. He served in the private sector labor movement prior to joining the state legislature, and has also served on numerous boards and commissions focused on public policy at the city, state and national level.

John was first elected to the State Assembly in 2008, at the height of the nation’s economic recession and a time of great financial peril for California. In 2010, he became the nation’s first openly gay Speaker when he was selected to lead the California Assembly.

Since that time, John’s leadership of the State Assembly has helped California make significant strides in strengthening opportunity for the middle class and restoring fiscal responsibility, including:

Passing On Time and Balanced State Budgets

John has led the State Assembly in passing balanced and on-time budgets three years in a row – a first in 30 years. The budgets have eliminated the state’s structural deficit, balanced its books and improved California’s credit rating – as the nation’s credit rating declined. As a result, California has spent $480 million less in debt financing this year alone. The Assembly also laid the groundwork for a November 2014 ballot initiative to create a Rainy Day Fund that will protect the state budget during boom and bust cycles.

Helping Businesses, Creating Jobs

John introduced and led the passage of legislation creating GoBiz, to improve the state’s efforts to attract new businesses and investments in California.


Betty Yee

A native of San Francisco and a proud product of its K-12 public schools, Betty Yee was born to immigrant parents who established a laundry and dry cleaning business in the Parkside District of San Francisco and operated it for 30 years.  The second oldest of six children, Betty grew up speaking no English at home.  As with her siblings, when not in school, she worked the counter of her parents’ business, interacting with customers and often translating for her parents with vendors as well as assisting in financial transactions for them.

Ms. Yee’s work ethic was modeled after that of her parents, who never closed the business other than on Sundays and holidays and never took vacations.  She especially is proud of the reputation her father earned for the quality of his work in hand-finishing men’s shirts and that of her mother for her excellent skills as a seamstress.  The hard work and sacrifice of her parents inspired Ms. Yee and her siblings to do well in school.  All six children are college graduates:  five from the University of California, Berkeley, and one from San Francisco State University; three have advanced degrees.

About the California State Board of Equalization: Currently, Ms. Yee serves as one of five members on the California State Board of Equalization, the nation’s only elected tax commission.  She represents close to 9 million Californians in the First Equalization District, comprised of 21 counties primarily along the northern and central California coast and including the entire San Francisco Bay Area — the home to many of the state’s most prominent industries, such as biotechnology, health care, high tech, financial services, wine, and tourism.  Ms. Yee was elected to this office first in November 2006, receiving over 1.5 million votes, or 65 percent of the votes cast.  She was re-elected in 2010, earning over 1.6 million votes, or 63 percent of the votes cast.

Candidate for Board of Equalization-Fiona Ma

Fiona Ma

 Fiona Ma was elected to represent the 12th Assembly District from November 2006 to November 2012 (after serving the maximum three terms).  She was the #112 woman to ever be elected to the California Legislature and the first Asian woman to ever serve as Speaker pro Tempore since 1850 (first Legislature).  Assemblywoman Ma first became interested in politics as a small business owner and a Certified Public Accountant advocating on behalf of other small businesses.  She was an elected delegate to the 1995 White House Conference on Small Business under President Bill Clinton, which produced a report to Congress on the 60 top policy recommendations to help small businesses grow and prosper in the 21st century.

 She formally entered the field of politics in 1995 serving as the District Representative for then Assemblyman Senator John Burton.  She was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 2002, where she served for four years.  During her tenure on the Board of Supervisors, she authored the landmark Local Business Enterprise ordinance on behalf of Women and minority business owners and passed legislation to tackle human trafficking.  Building on her work combating toxic chemicals in San Francisco, Assemblywoman Ma authored groundbreaking legislation (AB 1108) to ban toxic chemicals, known as phthalates, in baby products statewide, which was the first such law in the nation.  Senator Dianne Feinstein incorporated her bill into the US Consumer Product Safety bill which now protects all babies and children across the nation.

 As Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Domestic Violence, she worked on legislation to protect victims of domestic violence and help survivors in prison get another chance at freedom.

 Fiona Ma received her B.S. from the Rochester Institute of Technology (NY), her M.S. in Taxation from Golden Gate University (SF), and an MBA from Pepperdine University.  She has been licensed in California as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) since 1992.