THE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA CARPENTER: Candidate is committed to resolving housing crisis



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The 2018 election is shaping up as a historic opportunity for new leadership, especially for women, and Eleni Kounalakis, running for Lieutenant Governor of California, is emerging as among the most promising of these new faces.

The daughter of Greek immigrants, she has followed the footsteps of her father, who came to California as a penniless 14-year-old, got a job as a farmworker and rose to become a prominent Sacramento area developer. As President of the family business, AKT Development, Kounalakis has focused on delivering housing for middle-class families. She’s a strong backer of Factory OS, the allCarpenter modular housing facility in Vallejo and sees it as a model for how to help the homeless. (For more on Factory OS, please turn to page 15 of this issue.)

“The dramatic increase in the cost of housing in this state is driving people into homelessness,” Kounalakis says. “It is driving families into poverty. And it is driving businesses and families out of the state. I hope to use my experience in helping rebuild economic security in our middle-class families and rebuilding that pathway into the middle class for working-class families.

“If I win, I will seek to work with the legislature, and with the next governor, if it’s Gavin Newsom, to fulfill his pledge to deliver 3.5 million more housing units by 2025.”

During her nearly two decades in the housing industry, Kounalakis also emerged as a key Democratic Party activist, working on the campaigns of countless progressive candidates and initiatives. She served on California’s First 5 Commission and the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism. She was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee to the San Francisco Port Commission, and currently chairs the California Advisory Council for International Trade and Investment.

The state’s Lieutenant Governor serves on the board of the California State University system and the University of California. “Keeping those doors open to all Californians is essential for allowing families to live the American Dream,” Kounalakis says. She would also sit on the powerful State Lands Commission and chair the state Commission for Economic Development.

A broad range of political leaders endorses Kounalakis, including Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, and organizations like the National Organization for Women and the League of Conservation Voters, community leaders and activists, along with the Carpenters and other unions.

“Eleni Kounalakis is going places in California politics,” says NCCRC Executive Officer Bob Alvarado. “She’ll be a good friend to all working Californians, and she knows her way around the construction industry. We need more political leaders like her.”

Kounalakis lives in San Francisco with her husband, veteran journalist Markos Kounalakis, and their two sons.

Aleksandra Reetz