Gavin Newsom names chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus as next secretary of state

Lara Korte and Hannah Wiley

Lara Korte and Hannah Wiley

The Sacramento Bee

Hours after appointing a replacement to Kamala Harris’ Senate seat, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday named Assemblywoman Shirley Weber as the next Secretary of State.

She will be the first Black person to hold that office in the state’s history.

“I thank Governor Newsom for the confidence he’s placed in me and his belief that I will stand strong for California,” Weber said in a statement. “Being the first African American woman in this position will be a monumental responsibility, but I know that I am up for the challenge.”

Weber, a Democrat who represents Bonita, Chula Vista, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, National City and San Diego, has served in the Assembly since 2012 and currently chairs the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety and the California Legislative Black Caucus. She will replace Alex Padilla, who is taking Harris’ seat in the U.S. Senate.

Her appointment is subject to confirmation by the California State Assembly and Senate within 90 days.

“A fearless advocate with unimpeachable integrity and moral clarity — there’s no one better suited for the job of Secretary of State than (Weber),” Newsom tweeted. “With her, CA will continue to be a model for the nation in expanding democratic participation and access to the ballot box.”

Weber’s legacy in the Capitol stretches far beyond expanding voting access in California. A powerful and skilled legislator, Weber’s legislative successes include writing the nation’s strongest police use-of-force law, establishing a task force to study reparations for African Americans and fighting for K-12 education funding.

In 2019, Weber successfully ended a years-long fight against narrowing the state’s deadly force rules with Assembly Bill 392, which earned bipartisan support despite initial opposition from law enforcement unions.

She successfully authored this year a proposal to prohibit peremptory strikes on possible jurors based on demographics like race and ethnicity, and another to include ethnic studies as a requirement for graduation at California State Universities.

Weber wrote Proposition 16, the proposal that sent affirmative action back to voters this year for reconsideration. Voters rejected it in November.

Among her colleagues, Weber is considered a civil rights icon with a passion for bridging the gap between the haves and have-nots, and providing the state’s most vulnerable residents with academic and financial tools.

Newsom acted swiftly to fill the role of the state’s top elections official. Some speculated that he would choose Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who had announced her intention to run for the office in 2022. Gonzalez on Tuesday applauded the governor’s decision.

“I feel very strongly about voting rights, which is why I was running for Secretary of State,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “While I would’ve loved the opportunity to serve in that role, I fully appreciate the need to amplify Black women in our state. Shirley Weber is an icon and will serve California well as Secretary of State.”

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