Politics
Double-Double Legacies: Next Black Caucus Members Expected to Be Familiar Names 

April 21, 2020 California Black Media

  Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber 

Last week, the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC), a group comprised of African American elected officials serving in the State Legislature, was preparing to welcome its newest member, former La Mesa City Councilwoman Dr. Akilah Weber.

On Monday, April 19, Weber, who is African American, was sworn in as the newest member of the State Legislature, representing the 79th Assembly District in the San Diego area. Her mother, Dr. Shirley Weber, California’s Secretary of State, previously held the seat for almost a decade — from 2012 to 2021.

After her swearing in, Weber will be the newest member of the CLBC.

Weber won with 52 % of the vote out of a pool of five candidates. Marco Contreras, the only Republican running for the position, trailed her with 33.4% of the votes.

Gov. Gavin Newsom nominated the elder Weber to serve as Secretary of State in December, succeeding Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA), who is currently California’s junior Senator in the United States Congress.

“I know that here – this is where we make significant laws that tremendous impact on every single resident of California,” said Weber after taking the oath of office. She was sworn in by her mom.

“I don’t take that lightly. I know we can do, and I am honored that I’m here to help do that. I’m ready to get to work,” said Weber.

Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), chair of the CLBC, celebrated earlier this month when he heard Weber was leading the race in a special election held in April to replace her mother.

“Can’t wait to have you in the CABlackCaucus,” tweeted.

Last week, the CLBC also threw its support behind another woman of African descent who is also familiar to that body, Mia Bonta of Oakland. She could also join the group’s ranks in the next couple of months.

Bonta, who is currently Alameda Unified School District president, announced her candidacy April 12 for the state Assembly seat in District 18 that her husband, Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), currently occupies. The district covers an East Bay district that includes the cities of San Leandro, Alameda and Oakland.

 Last week, the CLBC also threw its support behind another woman of African descent who is also familiar to that body, Mia Bonta of Oakland. She could also join the group’s ranks in the next couple of months.

Bonta, who is currently Alameda Unified School District president, announced her candidacy April 12 for the state Assembly seat in District 18 that her husband, Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), currently occupies. The district covers an East Bay district that includes the cities of San Leandro, Alameda and Oakland.

                          Mia Bonta 

In March, Gov. Newsom appointed her husband, who is Filipino-American, as the next California Attorney General, pending Senate confirmation.

"The California Legislative Black Caucus proudly endorses Mia Bonta for Assembly," said Bradford. "Diversity in leadership is critical to ensuring equity in policymaking, and as an Afro-Latina woman, Mia offers a perspective that has long been underrepresented in Sacramento. Her experience advocating for children and families in her community and deep understanding of today's policy issues would make Mia a valuable addition to the State Legislature. I and the Caucus will be working to make her success a reality."

Weber says she wants to continue her mother legacy as she works to ensure that “we build a better tomorrow that improves the future for all Californians.”

"Tonight’s win and these results are staggering; I am deeply honored and humbled by the faith that the voters have placed in me. My campaign is focused on one mission: creating healthier communities for everyone who lives and works in the 79th district," Weber said in her victory statement.

Weber, a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist, is expected to be sworn into the Assembly this month.

Weber leads the Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology Division at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego and has health care high up on her list of priorities.

Weber thanked her team and the voters for her victory.

"Hundreds of people worked hard to earn this victory, and I am so grateful for their friendship, commitment and trust. I want to thank my family, without whom none of this would be possible, all of the volunteers and supporters who fueled our campaign, and most of all the voters for their trust and confidence," Weber said.

Bonta says, if she wins, she will focus on education and housing affordability, which are “personal issues” for her.

“I grew up and my family moved 13 times in 16 years,” she told local East Bay television station KQED. “I have built into me the experience of feeling that housing insecurity – and I know the impact that has on one’s ability to be able to get to work, to keep work, to be focused on an education pathway."

Another special election for the 54th Assembly seat in the Los Angeles area is coming up.

State Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) vacated that Assembly seat when she won a special election in March for the 30th Senate District seat previously held by Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors member Holly J. Mitchell. Six Democrats have thrown their hats into the highly contentious race: Financial adviser Samuel Robert Morales; attorney and State Commissioner Cheryl C. Turner; grocery worker Bernard Senter; businesswoman and non-profit exec Dallas Fowler; community organizer and educator Isaac Bryan; and Heather Hutt, former state director for Kamala Harris when she was Senator.

Politics
Gov. Newsom Nominates CLBC Chair Dr. Shirley Weber Secretary of State

Posted: December 24, 2020

If confirmed, Weber will become the first-ever African American to serve as Secretary of State of California.   “Dr. Weber is a tireless advocate and change agent with unimpeachable integrity. The daughter of sharecroppers from Arkansas, Dr. Weber’s father didn’t get to vote until his 30s and her grandfather never got to vote because he died before the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965. When her family moved to South Central Los Angeles, she saw as a child her parents rearrange furniture in their living room to serve as a local polling site for multiple elections. Now, she’ll be at the helm of California’s elections as the next Secretary of State – defending and expanding the right to vote and serving as the first African American to be California’s Chief Elections Officer,” Newsom said. 

Weber, an Assemblymember since 2012, is a former President of the San Diego Board of Education and a retired Africa Studies Department professor for 40 years at San Diego State University. Her nomination is subject to confirmation by the California State Assembly and Senate. A decision must be made within 90 days.

 “I am excited to be nominated for this historic appointment as the Secretary of State of California. I thank Governor Newsom for the confidence he’s placed in me and his belief that I will stand strong for California. Being the first African American woman in this position will be a monumental responsibility, but I know that I am up for the challenge. Expanding voting rights has been one of the causes of my career and will continue to motivate me as I assume my new constitutional duties,” Weber said. State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), vice chair of the CLBC, congratulated Weber, saying his “former colleague and college professor” will do an amazing job

“I am happy for my former college professor and chair of the CLBC. Her hard work and dedication to public service is a testament of the excellence she demonstrates as a legislator,” Bradford said. “She will do a tremendous job as Secretary of State. I look forward to working with her and her continued leadership.”

Taisha Brown, the president of the California Democratic Party Black Caucus (CDP Black Caucus) said she is elated over Dr. Weber’s appointment but is still disappointed that the governor did not choose a Black woman to replace Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the United States Senate.

“I am happy. I don’t think they could’ve picked a better Black woman to take Alex Padilla’s spot,” Brown said of Weber’s appointment. “But I will say that it is not enough and does not satisfy the fact there is not one Black woman in the United States Senate.”

Weber chairs the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety and the California Legislative Black Caucus. She also serves as a member of the Assembly Standing Committees on Education, Higher Education, Elections, Budget, and Banking and Finance.

In addition, she chairs the Select Committee on Campus Climate, which was created to examine and mitigate hate crimes on California’s college and university campuses. The committee also explored student hunger, sexual assaults, homelessness, and freedom of expression.

In August 2019, Weber introduced and passed historic legislation on police reform, Assembly Bill (AB) 392, also known as the “California Act to Save Lives.”  The measure set new standards, one the toughest in the nation, on the use of deadly force by police. She has also been a leader on issues of social justice and economic justice.

 “I am happy for Dr. Shiley Weber,” said Rev. K.W. Tullos, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Southern California. “However, it does not suppress our feelings about the U.S. Senate seat. I look forward to working with Dr. Weber around voter issues.”

Weber is the mother of two children. She has two grandsons and a granddaughter and is the widow of the late Hon. Daniel Weber, a California State Judge.