Toni Atkins, former Speaker of the California State Assembly, has been announced as the next leader of the California State Senate when current Senate president pro tem Kevin De Leon steps down in early 2018. When that happens Atkins will become the first woman and openly LGBT person to head the United States' largest state's upper legislative house.
De León, a Los Angeles Democrat who has served as Senate leader for nearly four years, is stepping down from the leadership position as he runs against Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the 2018 election for her seat in the U.S. Senate.
“Four years ago, our caucus elected the first Latino leader in over a century to lead the California state Senate — and, next year, Sen. Atkins will become our first ever woman to be elected Senate leader,” De León said in a statement.
“Toni is a leader of great experience, achievement and integrity, and I have every confidence that she will lead America's most accomplished legislative chamber to even greater heights,” De León added.
Atkins, 55, brings leadership experience to the job, having previously served as speaker of the state Assembly. She will be the third person to serve both as Assembly speaker and Senate president pro tem and the first leader of the state Senate who has come out as gay.
“Today, I am humbled by the trust my colleagues have placed in me, and I intend to earn that trust every day by working tirelessly and inclusively to keep California a place of opportunity for everyone,” Atkins said in a statement.Congratulations to Toni!