Shirley Weber
Gov. Newsom swore in Dr. Shirley Weber as secretary of state on Jan. 29. Photo via @CASOSVote Twitter

Shirley Weber was sworn in by Gov. Gavin Newsom as California’s secretary of state Friday, officially making her the first Black person to serve in that role.

“The fact that each citizen is a primary officeholder in a democracy is the lodestone tenet of our system of government,” said Weber, who represented San Diego County’s 79th Assembly District from 2012 until resigning earlier Friday to become secretary of state.

“It is my responsibility as secretary of state to ensure that more Californians are able to exercise that power through the electoral process and that our elections remain secure, accessible and fair even under the most adverse conditions.”

Weber was appointed by Newsom to fill the vacancy caused by his appointment of Alex Padilla to the United States Senate seat vacated by Vice President Kamala Harris. Weber was confirmed by both houses of the Legislature without a no vote.

“On the eve of Black History Month, California once again makes history in swearing in Dr. Weber as secretary of state,” Newsom said, referring to her doctorate in speech communications from UCLA.

“As the state’s chief elections officer, Dr. Weber will continue her lifelong dedication to defending civil rights and will undertake a vital role in protecting our democratic process at a critical time.”

Weber taught Africana studies at San Diego State University for 40 years. She chaired the Assembly Budget Committee and the Assembly Committee on Elections and was chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus.

Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, D-San Diego, characterized Weber as a principled leader.

“Dr. Weber’s appointment makes history, but I believe that as secretary of state, Shirley Weber will continue to make history, especially in ensuring California’s leadership on voting rights and voter participation,” Atkins said.

“It’s no surprise that we have learned so much from Dr. Weber over the years, given her career as a college professor — now, we once again will get to learn from her actions as she leads this critical office, and protects our most sacred democratic process. This is a proud day for California.”

San Diego Mayor and former Assemblyman Todd Gloria offered his congratulations.

“Dr. Weber has been a fearless fighter for the people of California and the moral conscience of the legislature for years,” Gloria said. “As our new secretary of state, I have every confidence she will move our state to be more equitable and just for all of us.”

Newsom has 14 days to call a special election to fill Weber’s Assembly seat. The special election must be held on a Tuesday 126-140 days after he calls the special election.

Weber’s daughter Dr. Akilah Weber, a La Mesa City Council member and obstetrician/gynecologist, has announced her candidacy.

— City News Service contributed to this article