Wednesday, October 09, 2013

CA Openly Gay Assembly Speaker Announces Historic Run For Statewide Office

John A. Pérez, the powerful, openly gay Speaker of the California Assembly, and the cousin of the former Mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosaannounced today that he is intending to run for State Controller in 2014.

From the press release:
California Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez Announces Run For State Controller  
Vows Financial Stewardship To Strengthen California’s Recovery 
Los Angeles, October 9, 2013 - John A. Pérez, Speaker of the California Assembly and state legislator from Los Angeles, today announced his campaign for the office of California State Controller in 2014. 
In describing his reason for seeking the office, Pérez emphasized that while California’s economy has improved significantly in recent years, considerable work remains. 
“California has made great strides in its path to recovery, but our work is far from complete. I’m running for Controller to ensure our government reflects the values of the people of California and increases prosperity, by managing our finances smartly, efficiently and effectively,” Pérez said.  
Pérez noted that when he first joined the State Assembly, California’s budget deficit was more than $60 billion, over half the state budget for the year. “Fiscal restraint has been crucial to putting our finances back in the black, and will remain vital to ensuring a prosperous future for our state,” Pérez added. 
Pérez also noted the important role of the Controller in expanding opportunity for California families, an aspiration that has guided his career. “Balancing our books is essential, but this job is about even more. It’s about promoting the financial stability that can offer every Californian the opportunity to succeed and contribute to our state’s prosperity. I will continue to advance smart investment decisions that help businesses, create jobs and unleash California’s full potential,” he said. 
Since Pérez became Speaker of the Assembly in 2010, his leadership has helped California make significant strides in strengthening opportunity for the middle class and restoring fiscal responsibility, including: 
Passing On Time and Balanced State Budgets. Pérez has led the State Assembly in passing balanced and on-time budgets three years in a row – a first in 30 years. The budgets have eliminated the state’s structural deficit, balanced its books and improved California’s credit rating – as the nation’s credit rating declined. As a result, California has spent $480 million less in debt financing this year alone. The Assembly also laid the groundwork for a November 2014 ballot initiative to create a Rainy Day Fund that will protect the state budget during boom and bust cycles. 
Helping Businesses, Creating Jobs. Pérez introduced and led the passage of legislation creating GoBiz, to improve the state’s efforts to attract new businesses and investments in California. Under his tenure, the legislature also strengthened key industries like tourism and trade that employ millions of Californians, provided tax credits for emerging industries like green manufacturing, and made reforms to state efforts to encourage business activity in distressed communities. 
Making Work Pay. Pérez helped secure passage of legislation that raises the state minimum wage to $10 per hour, which will boost an individual’s earnings by $4,000 per year and put $2.6 billion into the hands of California workers. 
Passing Middle-Class Scholarships. Landmark legislation authored by Pérez will put higher education within the reach of more California families, cutting student fees at UC and CSU by up to 40% for middle-class families. 
Expanding Access to Health Care. Pérez helped lead California’s implementation of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, including the expansion of Medi-Cal coverage to over one million low-income and uninsured Californians. He also authored legislation creating Covered California, the first health benefits exchange in the nation, offering health insurance at a lower cost to more than two million California families and small businesses.
Pérez has dedicated his career to improving the lives of Californians and advancing the prosperity of our state. Growing up in the working class communities of East Los Angeles, his parents taught him the value of hard work and community service. He served in the private sector labor movement prior to joining the state legislature, and has also served on numerous boards and commissions focused on public policy at the city, state and national level. 
As the first openly gay person to be elected to the position of Assembly Speaker in the country, Pérez has been a longtime advocate on behalf of the LGBT Community. He has been especially active in the fight against HIV/AIDS. He has been a leader with AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Latino Coalition against AIDS, and the California Center for Regional Leadership.

If Perez wins he would be the first openly LGBT person elected statewide in California and one of slightly more than a handful of people who have done so anywhere around the country. John Chiang the current state Controller is termed out since all statewide elected officeholders can only serve for two four year terms. Pérez's departure will mean that there will be leadership vacuum in the Assembly, which will likely be filled by another openly LGBT person, Toni Atkins of San Diego, who herself would be termed out in 2016. The head of the State Senate, Darrel Steinberg, is also termed out at the end of the 2014 legislative session so both heads of California's legislative bodies may have new leaders after next year's elections. Steinberg is expected to be replaced by Los Angeles' Kevin de Leon.

Although he is not confirmed it, most observers expect California Governor Jerry Brown to run for an unprecedented 4th term next year, and almost certainly win. Brown served two terms as Governor when was in his 30s in the 1970s (well before term limits were enacted) and is currently 75 years old.

Hat/tip to Karen Ocamb

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