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A renamed street was unveiled in Alameda this week to remember and honor late Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, who died unexpectedly about a year ago in a traffic collision.
Wilma Chan Way replaces Constitution Way, stretching from Webster Street to Lincoln Avenue. About 10 signs were replaced and co-located signs will be up for one year saying, “formerly Constitution Way.”
The unveiling occurred Wednesday near the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Wilma Chan Way.
“She was a voice for those who didn’t have a seat at the table,” said Supervisor Dave Brown, who was appointed by the board to fill Chan’s seat following her death.
Brown did not run in the latest election to continue as supervisor. Former Alameda Vice Mayor Lena Tam is leading the race as of the latest results released by the county.
Brown and Alameda Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft cited several reasons to recognize and honor Chan by renaming a street after her.
Brown said Chan helped ensure many children received health insurance well before the Affordable Care Act came into being. She also helped save San Leandro Hospital from closing, he said.
Blazing trails in politics
“Trailblazer” and “uncommon leader” were two words Brown used to described Chan.
She was the first Asian-American on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and the first woman and first Asian-American woman to be majority leader in the state Assembly.
Ezzy Ashcraft said Chan, who lived in Alameda for 27 years, supported her home city as a supervisor and state legislator.
Chan helped keep Alameda Hospital open, and among other things, supported the creation of a new library in Alameda, said Ezzy Ashcraft, who worked in Chan’s state Assembly office in Oakland for a summer.
Like others, Ezzy Ashcraft said Chan was supportive of work to help children and families as well as seniors and the area’s most vulnerable.
“For so many reasons,” it was important for Alameda to honor Chan, the mayor said.
Requests to do something to remember Chan came from residents, friends and former colleagues, Ezzy Ashcraft said.
“She was beloved in Alameda,” the mayor said of Chan.
Constitution Way was chosen because it is a main thoroughfare into the city and because few residential and commercial addresses face the street, requiring fewer residents and businesses to change their address.
The Alameda City Council approved the renaming on Feb. 15 after Chan’s family made a request.
Chan’s contributions to the city also include the founding in 1996 of the Alameda Collaborative for Children, Youth and their Families, the founding First 5 Alameda County, which promotes the health and development of children from birth to 5 years old, and advocating for the county’s Measure A1 housing bond.
The housing bond led to the construction of over 300 units of new housing, $240,000 for home preservation and $512,000 to help people with down payments.
The sign on the Oakland side of the Webster Street Tube was replaced by Caltrans. Alameda officials are working to have the name changed on Google Maps, which on Thursday still said Constitution Way.