Assemblymember Ash Kalra represents California’s 27th District, which encompasses approximately half of San José and includes all of downtown. He was first elected in 2016, becoming the first Indian American to serve in the California Legislature in state history, and was re-elected to his third term in 2020.
Assemblymember Kalra is the Chair of the Committee on Labor and Employment and also serves as a member on the Housing and Community Development, Judiciary, Transportation, and Water, Parks, and Wildlife committees.
Last year, he was elected by his Assembly colleagues to serve as Chair of the California Legislative Progressive Caucus to help guide a strategic, thoughtful approach to advancing a compassionate, inclusive agenda for Californians. He has established himself as a leader on issues ranging from criminal justice reform to environmental protection, and has championed legislation on health care sustainability, housing affordability, growing transportation infrastructure, and expanding economic opportunity for all.
In the State Assembly, he has authored successful legislation promoting secure and peaceful communities for all residents, including protecting and preserving civil rights and civil liberties, and has dedicated his tenure in public service to equity and social justice issues.
To confront racism and systemic bias in our systems of justice, he authored the historic California Racial Justice Act of 2020 (AB 2542), a landmark bill addressing racial discrimination in criminal sentencing and convictions. As a longstanding supporter of a single-payer health care system, Assemblymember Kalra last year introduced AB 1400 – the statewide legislation also known as CalCare – which would guarantee comprehensive, high-quality health care for all Californians as a human right.
He previously served on the San José City Council for eight years and was formerly a Deputy Public Defender for Santa Clara County for 11 years, representing clients in dozens of felony jury trials. As a public defender, he represented indigent clients in both felony and misdemeanor matters, and a majority of his time was spent in drug treatment court where clients were given the opportunity to complete a rehabilitation program and turn their lives around.
Assemblymember Ash Kalra was born in Toronto, Canada, and moved to California as a young child, residing in the same South San José neighborhood where he grew up. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a law degree from Georgetown University.