Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan was hit by a car and killed Wednesday morning while walking her dog near Grand Street and Shore Line Drive in Alameda. She suffered a severe head injury and doctors at Highland Hospital in Oakland could not save her. Chan had a 30-year career in public service and was beloved by her colleagues across the Bay Area and the state. She was considered a political trailblazer, becoming the first Asian American supervisor to serve in Alameda County in 1995. She went on to become the first Asian American State Assembly majority leader in 2002.
Chan’s district included Alameda, San Leandro, and San Lorenzo along with parts of Haward and Oakland. She was known to be always readily available to help members across her community. “She was super committed to the young people, especially young women and young minority women who needed representation and support. She was a strong advocate for standing up for young women, which I appreciate having three daughters of my own,” East Oakland councilmember Noel Gallo told Bay Area News Group.
Those who worked closely with Chan are now reflecting on her hard work. “It hurts my heart, it really does, to lose someone so dedicated to helping families and children and school districts,” Oakland Unified teacher Demonica Robinson told KPIX. Alameda’s Mayor, Ezzy Ashcraft released this statement: “Supervisor Chan was a tireless advocate for seniors, children, and families, promoting programs that advance children’s health, and help lift people out of poverty, and so much more. Her compassion, strong sense of community, and devotion to the people she served will be profoundly missed.”
At the state capitol, tributes also immediately started to pour in. Governor Newsom released a statement saying in part, “her decades of service to the community, championing health care, affordable housing and support for families, has touched the lives of many.”
State Sen. Nancy Skinner released a statement saying in part “This is a true loss for all of the Bay Area. Wilma Chan was an absolute trailblazer and a decades-long champion for those in need.”
Chan is survived by her two children and two grandchildren.
The driver who struck Chan is cooperating with police and there is apparently an ongoing investigation looking into safety issues in the area where she was killed. The advocacy group ‘Bike Walk Alameda’ says the intersection at Grand Street and Shore Line Drive is known to have a high number of crashes. “It’s long past time to take action and make the safety improvements that we know, with certainty, will reduce the likelihood and severity of crashes like this,” Bike Walk Alameda board president Denyse Trepanier tells the San Francisco Chronicle.