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Malia Cohen campaigns for controller


Election season is in full swing, and many Black politicians are running to secure major positions in California. One of the state-wide offices on the ballot this year is  California State Controller. At a zoom conference, candidate Malia Cohen, one of six candidates in the running, talked about her campaign.

Cohen was the first African-American woman to serve on the Board of Equalization. Prior to that post, Cohen served as President of the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco. As a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, she served as chair of the Budget and Finance Committee.

“We know it is an inequitable distribution of wealth in California, and my hope is that I can create a bridge of contact between Black media and the controller’s office,” Cohen said. “The controller is responsible for the collection and disbursement of tax dollars. The Controller also sits on 76 different boards and commissions that are very important to small business and nonprofit organizations.”

Cohen spoke on the importance of the environmental state lands commission, and the Calpers and Calstrs systems to the Black community.

“Black community environmental challenges are wrapped up within State Land public resources, as they make sure we have clean water, making sure the air we breathe is clean, and they ensure there is onshore and offshore drilling for Southern California residents,” she said.

“The Calpers and Calstrs systems are important because if you are a retired teacher or state employee, they are in charge of your retirement money,” Cohen added. “My job as controller is to make sure the assessments are under management, the investments are growing, and everybody on the board is making smart choices. I also have a vote on this board, so it also gives an opportunity to African-Americans in finance to have a seat at the table when it comes to managing Calpers and Calstrs money through the emerging managers program, which I will continue to support.”

Cohen is running as an Independent party candidate.

“The Democratic party is my affiliation, and I want to note that the democratic leadership has not made an endorsement in the race. The democratic party has supported me, which is a separate sector, and I want to emphasize that.”

Cohen explained why she feels she is the best fit as controller and what people can expect if she is elected.

“I see myself as a collaborative leader,” she said. “That’s why I’ve been able to build a strong coalition and build support in urban, rural, and urban parts of California. I can get answers that address the daily challenges of working Californians. My primary goal is to connect with the people instead of working with lawyers and lobbyists. People in the workforce need an advocate in the finance space. I can support that need.”