OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Longtime Alameda County supervisor and former Assembly Majority Leader Wilma Chan died after being struck by a motorist during a morning walk in Alameda on Wednesday.
According to Chan’s office, the supervisor had been walking her dog earlier in the day when she was struck by the vehicle and suffered a serious head injury. Chan was rushed to Highland Hospital in Oakland, where medical staff were unable to revive her.READ MORE: Oakland City Council Votes To Increase Police Staffing
“During her 30-year-career in public service, Supervisor Chan had been a staunch advocate for children, families and the elderly, affordable housing, and health care for the uninsured,” her office said in a statement.
Alameda Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft shared the following statement on Facebook.
“On behalf of the Alameda City Council and the City of Alameda, we extend our deepest sympathy to the family, friends, and colleagues of Supervisor Wilma Chan who was tragically killed this morning after being struck by a car as she walked her dog. Supervisor Chan, an Alameda resident, was a longtime dedicated public servant who served the residents of Alameda for more than two decades.”
On Wednesday night, friends and colleagues gathered at the spot in Alameda where Chan was fatally struck.
“She loved working for the most disenfranchised,” said Tyler Dragoni.
Demonica Robinson, an Oakland Unified teacher, said Chan fought to save early childhood learning centers from closing in her neighborhood, and worked closely with the 72 year old.
“It hurts my heart, it really does to lose someone so dedicated to helping families and children and school districts,” Robinson told KPIX 5.
Carl Chan of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce has been a friend and colleague of the supervisor for more than three decades. He told KPIX 5 that they were working to help struggling Oakland Chinatown businesses this week.
“We need to remember her as a unifier for the county,” he said. “She is a true hero and dedicated public servant, serving all of us.”
Chan was the first Asian American to be elected to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, first serving from 1995-2000. She was elected to the California State Assembly in 2000 and became the first woman and first Asian American to be Majority Leader.
Chan returned to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in 2011 serving District 3, which covers Alameda, San Leandro, parts of Oakland and the unincorporated communities of San Lorenzo, Hayward Acres and Ashland. She was chair of the board’s Health Committee, ALL IN Steering Committee and the Unincorporated Services Committee.
News of Chan’s passing prompted many leaders in the East Bay and in Sacramento to express their condolences. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said “Her decades of service to the community, championing health care, affordable housing and support for families, has touched the lives of many.
We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan. Her decades of service to the community, championing health care, affordable housing and support for families, has touched the lives of many. Our thoughts are with her loved ones at this time.
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) November 4, 2021
State Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) said, “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.”READ MORE: Bay Area Remembers 1941 Attack On Pearl Harbor That Changed America Forever
“She spent her entire career in public service fighting to better the lives of low-income families, children, and seniors. And she was passionate about expanding health care and protecting Californians, especially families of color, from environmental toxins,” Skinner went on to say.
East Bay Assemblymember Buffy Wicks said “Supervisor Chan was such a fierce advocate for her community. She broke so many barriers during her distinguished career as a public servant.”
This is heartbreaking news. Supervisor Chan was such a fierce advocate for her community. She broke so many barriers during her distinguished career as a public servant.
My thoughts go out to her family, friends, and all who mourn her loss. May she rest in peace. https://t.co/4TfxgeQFEA
— Buffy Wicks (@BuffyWicks) November 3, 2021
Assemblymember Mia Bonta, whose district also covers part of the East Bay, described Chan as “someone who has stood up for our communities for decades.
“Her values, her strength are a model for us all,” Bonta said on Twitter.
My sincere condolences for the surviving family of Supervisor Wilma Chan, a leader, a friend and someone who has stood up for our communities for decades. Her values, her strength are a model for us all. Rest in power. pic.twitter.com/gSA2V12bWj
— Asm. Mia Bonta (@AsmMiaBonta) November 4, 2021
Mayor Ezzy Ashcraft of Alameda, where Chan lived, offered her condolences. “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,” Ashcraft said in a statement.
Mayor Jesse Arreguin of Berkeley remembered Chan as a “tireless champion for progressive causes and health equity and access.”
I am heartbroken to hear of the sudden and shocking killing of Supervisor Wilma Chan, a tireless champion for progressive causes and health equity and access. It was my honor to work with and learn from Wilma and she will be dearly missed. https://t.co/kBHEgAIo8i
— Jesse Arreguin #GetVaccinated (@JesseArreguin) November 3, 2021
Rashi Kesarwani, who also serves on the Berkeley City Council, described Chan as a “trailblazing Asian American elected official.”
I'm shocked and saddened to hear this news.
My deepest condolences to the family & friends of Sup. Wilma Chan, a trailblazing Asian American elected official.
We will miss you. RIP. https://t.co/ZQYGfW1aqY
— Rashi Kesarwani (@RashiKesarwani) November 3, 2021
Nikki Fortunato Bas, the president of the Oakland City Council, tweeted, “She was a champion for working families, affordable housing, quality healthcare; a mentor to AAPI women. She will be missed + her legacy will continue.”
Devastating. Rest in peace + power Wilma Chan. Sending love to her children, grandchildren, family. She was a champion for working families, affordable housing, quality healthcare; a mentor to AAPI women. She will be missed + her legacy will continue. https://t.co/QElLEtDiFn
— Nikki Fortunato Bas, Council President, Oakland 勵琪 (@nikki4oakland) November 4, 2021
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf shared her memories of Chan in a series of tweets.
Like many residents tonight, I am devastated by the untimely passing of my dear friend and colleague Supervisor Wilma Chan. Wilma was a tireless public servant, a champion for inclusion and equity, and a fierce advocate for public health and our most vulnerable residents. pic.twitter.com/MzhXfOuU1v
— Libby Schaaf (@LibbySchaaf) November 4, 2021
“As an Oakland Unified School Board Director, a state Assembly Member for Oakland and Alameda, and a County Supervisor representing Oakland and our Chinatown, San Antonio, and Fruitvale districts, Wilma fought for a better future for every resident, for every family,” Schaaf said Wednesday night. “I feel honored to have worked with her on so many critical initiatives over the years that included addressing the vast racial health disparities during the pandemic, funding more affordable housing and services for the homeless, and providing more resources for education.”
Condolences were also offered among law enforcement. Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said in a statement, “Supervisor Chan was a north star for so many important issues that served the vulnerable in our community.”
Sheriff Greg Ahern said, “She was a strong supporter of our community policing programs to reduce incarceration, poverty, addiction and homelessness. Her leadership and support of these programs will continue to change lives and are part of her lasting legacy of community service.”
The Oakland A’s baseball team also offered their condolences. “This is a tremendous and tragic loss for our community,” the team tweeted.
We extend our deepest condolences to Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan's family, friends, and colleagues. She dedicated her life and career to public service, and we are grateful for her leadership. This is a tremendous and tragic loss for our community. https://t.co/lgR9hOj5Uo
— Oakland A's (@Athletics) November 4, 2021
Chan is survived by her two children and two grandchildren.MORE NEWS: 'Prolific' San Francisco Retail Theft Suspect Back In Jail After New Arrest
Kenny Choi contributed to this report.