Thursday, December 10, 2009

CA to Make History with First Openly Gay Assembly Speaker

Well, good on my former home state. Finally, some good news from California for a change:

Assembly Democrats this afternoon tapped John A. Perez to be the chamber's next leader, a boost that would make him the first openly gay lawmaker to hold the powerful post.

Perez emerged from an afternoon meeting of the chamber's Democrats locking arms with his chief rival, Assemblyman Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) and the current leader, Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles).

“It's obviously an incredibly moving experience to have the unanimous support of my colleagues,” Perez said of his fellow Democrats.]

Perez, a cousin of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, has served just a single year in the Legislature. As a result, he will be eligible to serve as Assembly speaker for up to five years – one of the longest tenures in the influential position since term limits capped Assembly service at six years.

And not only is he gay, and not only is he Latino, but he also knows how to get the job done. I remember meeting him last year, and again early this year. I was blown away by his intelligence and his command of the issues. And since California has strict term limits (6 years for Assembly, 8 years for Senate) for its legislature, the next Assembly speaker will really need to hit the ground running to be effective.

Let's hope for our next door neighbors to the west that John Perez will be effective.

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