By Casey Tolan. First Published in the Mercury News.
After years of policing campaign finance and ethics laws, former Federal Election Commission chair Ann Ravel is jumping into the political fray herself.
Ravel, a Los Gatos resident who also led California’s top political ethics agency, filed to run Monday for the San Jose-area district of state Sen. Jim Beall who is termed out in 2020.ADVERTISING
“When you accomplish things in the state of California, it can be a model for other states to follow,” Ravel said in an interview. “I’m not doing this because I want to be a politician for the rest of my life, I’m not interested in that.”
The field of candidates to replace Beall in District 15 already includes a long list of local elected officials, including former Assemblywoman Nora Campos, Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, and San Jose city councilman Jimmy Khamis. The district covers a wide swath of Santa Clara County, including Campbell, Cupertino, Los Gatos and much of San Jose.
Ravel, who’s never run for office before, worked as Santa Clara County Counsel and a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Obama administration. She chaired the Fair Political Practices Commission in California before being appointed to the FEC by President Barack Obama.
During her tenure as one of three Democrats on the six-person board, Ravel sounded the alarm about the influence of money in politics and the election watchdog’s partisan gridlock. She retired in 2017.
“When I was in the federal government, I recognized how difficult it is — even with the majority in congress — to actually accomplish something,” she said — an experience that made state government more attractive.
She’s now a lawyer at the San Jose firm McManis Faulkner, teaches at UC Berkeley and lives in Los Gatos with her husband.
In addition to fighting for government accountability and transparency, Ravel said she wanted to help increase the availability of affordable housing, combat climate change, and address the state’s increasingly destructive wildfires. She said said hoped to work in a “great partnership” with recently elected Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The top-two primary election for the heavily Democratic seat will be held in March 2020.