Lake County community organizer enters race for California’s 5th District

Nils Palsson is a Democratic candidate for California’s 5th congressional district, which includes Napa County and portions of Contra Costa, Lake, Sonoma and Solano counties, including Benicia.

Having represented the area since 1999, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Napa) is considered the favorite to win the June 7 primary. However, he will be facing opposition, even within his own party. Under California’s top-two primary system, the candidates who place first and second will compete in the general election, even if they are both from the same party. This leaves the possibility of Thompson running against a fellow Democrat with different ideals.

Enter Nils Palsson, a 30-year-old self-described community organizer from Lake County. Palsson has served as a communications coordinator for Transition US, a sustainability nonprofit out of Sebastopol. He has also served as a high school history teacher and is the host of “Wake Up and Thrive” on Lake County community station KPFZ.

Palsson describes himself as a “Berniecrat,” i.e., a candidate aligned with the views of presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT). In fact, Palsson was elected to serve as a pledged delegate for Sanders at the Democratic National Convention this July in Philadelphia.

Palsson’s platform concerns social, racial, and environmental justice for all with a special focus on getting money out of politics.

“Big money has taken over politics,” he said in a statement. “I am running for this office because we, the people, deserve a voice in government.”

To this end, Palsson says he does not accept campaign contributions from corporations or lobbyists.

“As an outsider to the political establishment, I bring a much-needed fresh outlook,” he said in his statement. “I take no Super-PAC contributions. My clear allegiance is to our people and planet: to Main Street, not Wall Street.”

Palsson also supports establishing a constitutional amendment to end Citizens United, the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which argued that the government can not restrict independent political funds by nonprofit corporations.

“The reason we’re not getting so many of our needs met — from education and health care, to a fair economy and a real response to global warming is because there is a corrupt system of money in politics that we urgently need to address if we truly want to thrive,” he said.

As a father to 3-year-old Satya, Palsson credits his paternal instincts as the impetus for another major platform: fighting climate change.

“The climate crisis is very real, and harmful practices like fracking are polluting our groundwater,” he said in a statement. “The status quo is failing our children and grandchildren, failing future generations.”

Palsson believes that he can offer a real challenge to Thompson.

“We live in a progressive district,” Palsson wrote in a press release. “I believe the people here are ready to see our true values and needs represented in Congress.”

“I am just like the rest of the people in my district,” Palsson added. “I’m dealing directly with challenges like student debt and the housing crisis. I know how it feels to be a working-class parent — and I am ready to represent the working-class people of this district in Congress.”

Thompson and Palsson have one other Democratic opponent in the race: Alex Poling, a 26-year-old Democratic Emeryville resident and graduate of Michigan State University. On the Republican side, Carlos Santamaria of Napa will also be challenging Thompson. The primary will be held on June 7.

For more information on Palsson’s campaign, visit