Jovanka was born in Panama and immigrated to the United States when she was 9. Her step-father was in the military and the family lived in many different places, which taught her to be flexible and exposed her to a diversity of people, cultures and ways of life. She learned how to get along with and work closely with others. She attended the HBCU (Historically Black College and University), Florida A&M University, on a full-ride basketball scholarship. She majored in psychology as an undergraduate and later earned an MBA. Jovanka has worked for decades in public health as a mental health clinician. She works with some of the most negatively impacted impoverished and marginalized children and families in Contra Costa County.
It was after experiencing a life-altering home invasion by desperate young people, that Jovanka was directly impacted by the profound needs of our growing marginalized communities. She felt moved to run for political office where she knew she could make a difference as an elected official who could deliver results for those with the greatest needs. And deliver results she did! Rather than to propose carceral and punitive consequences, Jovanka has been a vocal and active advocate for the working class, the poor, the unhoused, those at risk of incarceration and returning citizens looking for a second chance. Recognizing that the underlying needs of struggling community members must be met, Jovanka fought for, created and supported policies that include: banning the box on City job applications; providing any community member who wanted one a local identification card, pushing for and winning a fight for rent control and raising the minimum wage.
“In an early field of lefties, Beckles is easily the most progressive. An acolyte of Sen. Bernie Sanders and the Richmond Progressive Alliance, Beckles ran for AC Transit on a platform advocating for free public transportation.”
“Beckles joins growing SD7 race” | East Bay Insiders | Steven Tavares
A team player, Jovanka campaigned for several progressive candidates locally, regionally, statewide and nationally, before running for office herself. With a deep desire to make a difference in her community, she was appointed by the Richmond Mayor to the Economic Development Commission and years later, she was appointed to the City’s Planning Commision. In 2010, she was elected to the Richmond City Council where she was able to deliver results while actively serving two terms. During this time, in addition to the policies mentioned above, Jovanka was instrumental in raising awareness through education campaigns and holding corporate polluters accountable. Broadening her geographical scope and ability to make a difference for more people, she was elected to the AC Transit Board in 2020. She continues to deliver results for her city, for two counties, for transit riders and transit workers.
LGBTQ leaders back providing reparations
Matthew S. Baijko | The Bay Area Reporter
“She is once again vying to become the first LGBTQ member of the state Legislature from the East Bay and the first out Black female state legislator.”
“List of LGBTQ 2024 CA legislative candidates expands” | The Bay Area Reporter
Jovanka knows that everyone needs and deserves to be served by courageous leaders. She intends to continue to be a leader who can be trusted to deliver on her promises. She will be a Senator who can both lead and deliver results. Jovanka believes that leadership must courageously work on the issues that affect the majority of us. These issues include reparations, housing, healthcare for all, free college and childcare, reforming prop 13, enshrining the right to same sex marriage and taxing the rich.
Jovanka recognizes that California is a uniquely diverse state. She knows that this diversity is not reflected in the State Senate. The current makeup of the California State Senate has only 2 Black legislators. This does not reflect the diversity of the State. The East Bay is made up of multiple diverse communities and folks living here deserve a representative who represents the diversity of the region. Black and Brown people deserve a place at the table. Immigrants and women deserve a seat at the table. The LGBTQ+ community deserves a place at the table.
Jovanka is a Black Latinx immigrant, a proud queer spouse, mother and grandmother. The East Bay deserves a Senator whose lived experience reflects theirs.
Jovanka believes that leadership must courageously work on
Reparations, housing, healthcare for all, free college and childcare, reforming prop 13, enshrining the right to same sex marriage and taxing the rich.
Jovanka’s progressive activism has gained her local and national recognition. Images of her activism can be seen in The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC and locally in the Oakland Museum of California’s Installation of Hella Feminist. She also gained national recognition for her Ban the box initiative in Richmond.
Jovanka is ready to make District 7 and California a district and state that works for the many and not just the few. She has a proven track record that delivers results for the working class; for homeowners, for renters, for the poor, for immigrants, for returning citizens, for safer communities, for the LGBTQ+ community, for women’s rights, for transit riders. With your support, she will deliver results. Together we can!