Toni Atkins Sworn In as 48th President pro Tempore of the California Senate
SACRAMENTO—In a ceremony in the state Capitol Wednesday, Sen. Toni Atkins was sworn in as the 48th President pro Tempore of the California Senate.
Following introductory remarks from Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, outgoing President pro Tempore Kevin de León introduced Senate Resolution 88, proposing that Atkins be elected by a vote of her colleagues. The resolution passed unanimously. Atkins was escorted to the rostrum, and California Supreme Court Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye administered the oath of office.
In remarks to her colleagues, Atkins praised predecessor de León’s commitment to expanding opportunity for all Californians.
“For every gesture of kindness he’s extended to me,” she said, and for every measure of devotion he’s offered our state – our climate, our children, our working families and our immigrant community – from the bottom of my heart, I say thank you.”
Atkins is the first woman and the first open member of the LGBTQ community to lead the California Senate.
“It’s the first time. And it’s about time,” she said. Women and LGBT activists “weren’t waiting – they were working. Marching in streets. Battling in courtrooms. Speaking out. Stepping up. This ascension is their accomplishment, not mine.”
She’s also the first person to serve as Speaker of the Assembly and President pro Tem of the Senate in 146 years.
Atkins issued a rebuke of those who ignore the prosperity of the present and the promise of the future as they pine for days gone by.
“On any given day,” she said, “California is the world’s breadbasket, the capital of both the entertainment industry and the innovation economy, and produces more domestic prosperity than 236 nations. The future is now – and it’s within each of us to bring it forth.”
The new Senate leader referenced the culture of sexual harassment that has been allowed to fester in the Capitol community.
“To some extent, we bear the burden of past sins too often swept under the rug. We can’t change the past. But we can and should be judged on how we shape the future,” Atkins said, adding that “we know that true culture change cannot be legislated or decreed. It doesn’t occur overnight. And it doesn’t get solved simply by electing women to leadership.”
Remarking on traditional rivalries that at times can stall or thwart legislative progress,” Atkins said, “So I don’t care whether you are a Senator or an Assemblymember, a Republican or a Democrat, rural or urban, north, south or central – we are all Californians, we all represent Californians, and, like California itself, we succeed or we fail together.”
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