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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Tustin school board trustee sets her sights on Congress – Orange County Register

The race for California’s 40th congressional district in 2024 is growing with the entrance of Allyson Muñiz Damikolas, a Tustin Unified School District trustee.

An engineer before her two daughters were diagnosed with life-threatening conditions that left them with “complex medical needs,” Damikolas said she made the decision to jump into the race to advocate for abortion rights, gun laws to curtail school shootings and greater access to health care.

“I feel as if it’s a calling,” Damikolas said of her race. “At this time, our children really need us to advocate for them and for our community.”

“I feel that as a Latina, someone whose family has been here for generations, someone who is now raising her own family, I represent not just Orange County, but Southern California as a whole, and the diversity of it all,” Damikolas said.

Damikolas first joined TUSD’s board in 2020, surviving a Republican-backed recall election not too long after she was elected as its first Latina Democrat. That recall, she said, gave her the experience to deal with “political games.”

On the school board, she’s had to juggle whether to support financing building upgrades and new textbooks with automatic locks and other safety measures to keep children safe from shooters, she said.

“That’s scary, both as a mother and as a school board member who is responsible for 23,000 kids,” said Damikolas.

Damikolas launched her campaign on Wednesday, May 24, with a video critical of incumbent GOP Rep. Young Kim.

A spokesperson for Kim declined to comment for this story.

The 40th congressional district covers eastern Orange County as well as portions of western San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

It’s on the Democrats’ 2024 target list, but Republicans have the advantage with nearly 38% registered voters compared to Democrats’ 33.6% and the 22.6% who list no party preference. Kim solidly beat challenger Asif Mahmood, a Tustin Democrat, in 2022.

Staff writer Hanna Kang contributed to this report.

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