15th District Assemblymember Tony Thurmond
is running for state superintendent in 2018.

East Bay Assemblymember Tony Thurmond wants to be California’s top educator. The two-term Richmond state legislator announced Monday that he is running for state superintendent of public instruction.

In a statement declaring his candidacy, Thurmond vowed to renew the state’s focus on education, innovate its public schools and provide a bulwark against President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betty DeVos, a staunch supporter of charter schools.

“There was a time when California schools were the nation’s best,” said Thurmond. “Now, by most accounts, California ranks forty-first in the nation in per-pupil spending. It’s time to make our public education system among the greatest in the nation. I won’t stop until we get there.”

A shortage of quality teachers exists in public schools, he added, along with expanding class sizes. “A good plan will strike a balance between bonuses and other incentives that will allow us to attract and retain great teachers,” said Thurmond.

Thurmond’s platform includes a focus on technology, science and engineering, including coupling internships with tech companies, he said.

During an election cycle assured to be a referendum from many angles on President Trump, Thurmond said, “fighting for education starts with opposing the efforts by President Trump and Betsy DeVos to defund our public schools. I will fight the Trump Agenda to gut our public schools at every step. California needs to be ready to face this crisis head on.”

Monday’s announcement was not a surprise. Thurmond’s candidacy had been rumored for months and was first reported last month in the East Bay Citizen.

Charter schools advocate Marshall Tuck joined the state superintendent’s race in March and he quickly raised more than $200,000 in campaign contributions. In 2016, Tuck lost to incumbent Supt. Tom Torlakson, in what was the most expensive race in the entire state. Former San Diego State Sen. Marty Block is also contemplating a run.

Thurmond’s candidacy, though, comes with one big risk. In order to run in next year’s statewide race, Thurmond is giving up his seat in the Richmond, Berkeley and Oakland assembly district.

Among the early list of potential candidates is Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb, who opened an exploratory committee for the 15th District on Mar. 9. Candidates from the Richmond and Berkeley City Councils are also expected to join what will likely be a wide-open race.