Telling her colleagues that she was “prepared, ready and eager to step up and lead,” Toni Atkins took the oath of office Monday as the first Assembly speaker from San Diego.

The Democrat, who had been the Assembly majority leader, succeeded Assemblyman John Perez, D-Los Angeles. He is being termed out this fall and is running for state controller.

State Assembly member Toni Atkins. Official photo

Atkins, a former San Diego City Council member, was voted in as the successor to Perez in March. It was first revealed around three months ago that she had accumulated enough votes to win the office.

Atkins will be the first lesbian to run the Legislature’s lower chamber. With Assemblywoman Connie Conway, R-Tulare, serving as the minority leader, it is the first time two women have been in charge of either chamber, according to Atkins.

The 90-minute ceremony was attended by a large San Diego delegation that included Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Councilman David Alvarez, Sheriff Bill Gore, ex-Councilman Jim Madaffer, Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, and former Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego.

Kehoe assured the Assembly members that they made the right choice in selecting Atkins, “whose dedication, compassion and sound judgment will serve this house and the state of California well.”

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, helped introduce the new speaker and Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, R-San Diego, helped escort her to the podium.

Peters, Maienschein and Madaffer served with Atkins during her eight years on the City Council. Faulconer joined the council halfway through her tenure.

Members of her family, including spouse Jennifer LeSar, also accompanied her.

The speaker is charged with the overall management and supervision of the Assembly; appoints members to committees and subcommittees; allocates funds, staffing and other resources for operations; and establishes committee schedules.

The speaker is also responsible for making or recommending appointments to state panels, and serves on the University of California Board of Regents and the California State University Board of Trustees.

–City News Service

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