Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday formally appointed Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state, to fill the state’s U.S. Senate seat vacated by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. To fill the secretary of state post vacated by Padilla, Newsom nominated state Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego).
Padilla, 47, will be the first Latino U.S. senator for California, whose population is 39 percent Hispanic or Latino. Weber, 72, will be the state’s first Black secretary of state if confirmed to the post.
“It is fitting that on the same day we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — a civil rights icon who fought for justice and representation — we also move forward the appointment of California’s first Latino U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and the nomination of Dr. Shirley Weber who will serve as the first-ever African American Secretary of State,” Newsom said in a Monday statement. “Both will be strong defenders of our democracy during this fragile moment in our nation’s history.”
Padilla has served as California’s secretary of state since 2015, and previously served 12 years in the state Senate. He also served on the Los Angeles City Council and as president of the League of California Cities. His parents emigrated to the United States from Mexico.
“It has been my privilege and honor to serve the people of California as Secretary of State for the past six years,” Padilla wrote in a letter to Newsom following his appointment. “I look forward to continuing to serve the great State of California as a United States Senator and to ensuring that the rights and democratic principles we cherish are protected and preserved for all people.”
Weber, who has represented California’s 79th Assembly District since 2012, chairs the state’s Legislative Black Caucus. Prior to serving in the state Assembly, she was a professor and chair of San Diego State University’s Africana studies department for more than 40 years.
She has authored key pieces of state legislation aimed at furthering racial justice, including a law establishing a task force to study reparations for slavery and a bill that will make it harder for attorneys to use peremptory challenges to strike jurors based on their race or membership in other constitutionally protected groups.
“Dr. King teaches us that we are at our best when we stand up in service of others and I am humbled to be able to continue to stand up for Californians as Secretary of State,” Weber said in a statement on Monday. “I thank the Governor for formally submitting my nomination to the Legislature today and look forward to lifting up and defending our democratic values of inclusivity and participation in this new role.”
Pending Weber’s confirmation, James Schwab, the current Chief Deputy Secretary of State, will serve as Acting Secretary of State in Padilla’s place. The California Legislature has 90 days to vote on Weber’s nomination.
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