3 Out of 4 of California’s
Senator Toni Atkins
Senator Shannon Grove
Assemblymember Marie Waldron
The women of the California Legislature and constitutional officers took a photo recently that did more than just pay tribute to the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment – it signified a new era of the political landscape.
Clad in white in honor of the suffragettes, I was uplifted by just how many of us there were, the diversity of our collective voices and backgrounds, and the strength and determination of the women standing around me.
Women who fought for their seat at the table. Women who have developed and passed legislation ranging from increasing access to affordable housing to reforming our state’s use-of-force laws. Women who have given their all to serve their neighbors and California.
Throughout my life, I have been surrounded and supported by smart, steadfast women. My mother, a seamstress who worked two jobs and beyond exhaustion to provide for our struggling family, and my twin sister, whose service in the Navy and need of help in caring for my infant nephew drew me to California.
My mentor, Christine Kehoe, who entrusted me with constituent services for her San Diego City Council district, and guided my rise in local and state government. My spouse Jen, the cornerstone of it all. Women have shaped my life. And a record 38 women are now shaping the policies and laws of the fifth largest economy in the world.
Three out of four of the top Legislative spots are held by women, and for the first time in California’s history, a woman was elected lieutenant governor.
Last year, we passed a bold, responsible budget that invested record levels of funding in education and increased access to health care and affordable housing. We authored laws that protect women’s bodies and our rights, prevent landlords from discriminating against low-income renters, and allow college athletes to benefit financially from their names and likenesses while still in school.
And we are hard at work again in this second year of the legislative session.
In March, we celebrate Women’s History Month and it affords us a chance to see just how far we’ve come. It also shows us how much more we could achieve with even more women by our side. That will be an unforgettable picture.
When it comes to choosing a remarkable woman to be “Woman of the Year,” in Senate District 39, we need only look to the ocean for guidance.
Dr. Margaret Leinen, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, works on the cutting edge of ocean science and global climate and environmental issues. Dr. Leinen, who serves as both Vice Chancellor and Dean of Marine Sciences at the University of California, San Diego, is an internationally recognized paleo-oceanography and paleo-climatology researcher.
As the eleventh director of Scripps, Dr. Leinen has prioritized recruiting and retaining women faculty. She has worked tirelessly to keep Scripps at the forefront of ocean science by renovating major laboratories and raising funds for climate change research. Dr. Leinen is also the founder and President of the Climate Response Fund and serves as the President of the American Geophysical Union.
The impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise and ocean acidification, are a threat to not only California’s coast but to coasts around the world. Dr. Leinen’s research to understand the science behind our changing oceans and what must be done to slow the catastrophic results of global warming will be essential to California’s future as we attempt to protect and save one of our state’s greatest treasures.
Each year, in honor of Women’s History Month, the California Legislative Women’s Caucus hosts the “Woman of the Year” celebration to commemorate outstanding women from every Senate and Assembly district. The California Legislative Women’s Caucus, one of the largest bipartisan women’s caucuses in the nation, has promoted the interests of women, children, and families through legislation since its formation in 1985. The caucus champions important issues such as women’s economic security, access to affordable childcare, sexual assault and domestic violence prevention, fair treatment of incarcerated women, women’s health, and women in the military and military families.
I am honored that Dr. Leinen is a member of our community, and this year’s “Woman of the Year” for District 39.
A quick reminder of how few women our country has honored on a national stage sheds light on the necessity of a month-long tribute.
Fewer than 400 of the 5,000 public statues in the U.S. highlight women. In New York City’s famed Central Park, not one of the statues featuring historical figures depicts a woman. The only women statues that grace the park are fictional characters. Fortunately, this will change in August when the park unveils a statue of women’s rights champions Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton – over a century after their time.
In its 92 years, only five women have ever been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director, and only one, Kathryn Bigelow, has won.
Katherine Johnson, who played an integral role in the major successes of our nation’s space program, received little credit until she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and her life’s work became the basis of a popular book and film – three decades after retirement.
In ignoring these key moments in history, and the women who shaped them, we deny young girls, and all of us, remarkable role models. Women’s History Month ensures that the significant role women had – and continue to have – in our society is not overlooked.
It was great to be with my fellow legislators and many of California’s constitutional officers to watch Governor Newsom deliver the annual State of the State Address. I was particularly pleased with how he stressed the issues of urgency and accountability in addressing how to fund the state’s crises in homelessness and affordable housing. When the Governor was here in San Diego in January for our annual Point-in-Time Count, his genuine determination to make things better shone through. My Senate colleagues and I understand the urgency before us, we are committed to bringing the various parties together to bridge the differences in how to move forward, and we will provide the strong oversight that ensures real accountability.
I pledge to fill out the 2020 Census, because I want to do my part to ensure that Senate District 39 gets its fair share of funding for services that have a real impact on our everyday lives. Census data is used to allocate money for:
✔ Health Care Clinics
✔ Senior Services
✔ Child Care Programs
✔ School Lunch Programs
✔ Roads and Infrastructure
✔ Higher Education
The Census is a once in a decade opportunity to shape the future of our state. Each survey matters. Your answers matter. Join me in pledging to be counted.
Social Media Corner
Puppy love was in the air at Second Chance Dog Rescue’s Valentine’s Day Doggie Brunch at Bub’s Ball Park! Attendees competed for the world record in the most owners kissing their dogs at once. Needless to say, Handsome Joey had a paw-sitively fantastic time!
I was thrilled to join Assemblymember Todd Gloria, Councilmember Chris Ward, North Park Main Street, the North Park Planning Committee, and Jefferson Elementary to break ground on a new mini-park coming to the neighborhood!
Indivisible Watu kicked off Black History Month with their inspirational Women of Color ROAR event, where I had the great opportunity to honor my friend and colleague, Senator Holly J. Mitchell, with the Woman of Distinction Award.