Mariko Yamada represents California's 4th Assembly District, which includes all or portions of the counties of Colusa, Lake, Napa, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo and the cities of American Canyon, Calistoga, Clearlake, Davis, Dixon, Lakeport, Napa, Rohnert Park, St. Helena, Williams, Winters, Woodland and Yountville. The 4th Assembly District also includes the communities of Allendale, Angwin, Arbuckle, Boyes Hot Springs, Clarksburg, Clearlake Oaks, Clearlake Riviera, Cobb, College City, Deer Park, Dunnigan, Eldridge, Esparto, Fetters Hot Springs- Agua Caliente, Glen Ellen, Green Valley, Grimes, Guinda, Hartley, Hidden Valley Lake, Kelseyville, Kenwood, Knights Landing, Lower Lake, Lucerne, Madison, Middletown, Monument Hills, Moskowite Corner, Nice, North Lakeport, Oakville, Rutherford, Silverado Resort, Soda Bay, Spring Valley, UC Davis, Upper Lake and Yolo.
Assemblymember Yamada chairs the Assembly Aging and Long-Term Care Committee, a position that reflects her professional background as a social worker and her longtime work advocating for seniors and persons with disabilities. She is also a member of the Assembly Committees on Agriculture; Veterans Affairs; Water, Parks and Wildlife; and the Assembly Select Committee on Homelessness. She also chairs the Assembly Select Committee on Sustainable and Organic Agriculture and the Select Committee on State Hospital and Developmental Center Safety. As a member of these committees, she continues her work to protect vulnerable populations and those who care for them; precious farmland and open space; and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the largest freshwater estuary in North America.
Since Assemblymember Yamada's first term, 23 of her bills have been signed into law. Among those chaptered are laws giving consumers access to a national motor vehicle safety database of comprehensive and up-to-date data when purchasing a used vehicle and "Taneka's Law" which clarifies that a workers' compensation claim cannot be denied based solely on a personal characteristic of the victim and a third party's hatred of that characteristic such as race, religion, or gender. Assemblymember Yamada's district office hosts Veterans Benefits Forums helping veterans and their families learn about the benefits they earned while in service; Cash for College events assisting high school seniors apply for financial aid; and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program providing low to moderate-income families receive free tax assistance. The district office resolved more than 1,000 constituent cases, ranging from helping the jobless navigate the unemployment benefits system to taking on the Medi-Cal program on behalf of residents in need.
Assemblymember Yamada is distinguished with multiple awards and recognitions since beginning her term. She received the Legislator of the Year Awards from the Solano County Child Abuse Prevention Council, California Association of Public Authorities, Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California, AMVETS and the California Association for Health Services at Home. Assemblymember Yamada is also recognized for her extensive work promoting civil rights receiving the Malcolm X Tenet Award from the Davis Action Council and the Civil Rights/Social Justice Leader Award by the Organization of Chinese Americans, Sacramento Chapter. Clean Water Action named her a "Clean Water Champion" for her leadership on water and environmental issues.
Prior to becoming an Assemblymember, Mariko served on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors for five years (2003 – 2008), representing a portion of the City of Davis and surrounding unincorporated county lands. Her education and experience as a social worker marked her as a leader on issues affecting the poor, elderly, and disabled. As a Supervisor, she became the first Chairperson of the Yolo County Commission on Aging and Adult services and helped to plan the first Aging Summit in Yolo County's history.
Assemblymember Yamada's interest in emergency services resulted in her assuming the Yolo County Board of Supervisors position on the Sierra Sacramento Valley Emergency Medical Services Agency (SSV-EMS), then a five-county Local Emergency Services Management Agency (LEMSA), when she was elected to the Board. She was then elected SSV-EMS Board Chair in 2005, continuing as Chair for two years. Assemblymember Yamada believes today, as she did then, that emergency services must be among the highest priorities for national, state, and local government.
Mariko also worked for a decade in Washington, D.C. first with the U.S. Census Bureau 1980 Census undercount reduction "campaign" and then as an investigator with the Office of the Secretary, Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Commerce. During her "D.C. days", Mariko co-produced and co-hosted "Gold Mountain, D.C.", a jazz and information show on WPFW 89.3 FM, one of the Pacifica Foundation radio affiliates. Classic R&B music remains one of her passions.
Mariko was born in Denver, Colorado on October 23, 1950 after her family's release from the Manzanar War Relocation Center, one of ten such Japanese American internment camps established during World War II. She attended inner city public schools in Denver, and in June 1972, was the first in her family to graduate from college, earning her B. A. in psychology from the University of Colorado, Boulder with an emphasis in the special mental health needs of Asian Americans. This interest brought her to Los Angeles, and in June 1974, she earned a Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California, specializing in community organizing, planning and administration. During her time in Southern California, she served as Assistant Deputy County Supervisor to Los Angeles County Supervisor Ed Edelman and as the Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Officer for the San Diego County Department of Social Services.
She has been married since 1983 to Janlee Wong, also a social worker and current Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter. They reside in Davis and are the proud parents of two daughters. Meilee (far right), a 2007 Alumna of the USC Annenberg School, completed her Master's Degree in Political Management at George Washington University. She is a Research Associate and Director of Social Media at the American Continental Group in Washington, D.C. Midori (far left), a Phi Beta Kappa UCSD graduate, is Director of Special Projects for the San Diego Unified School District.