New Assembly Speaker Chosen

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, February 28, 2008

 “All in favor of electing Karen Bass as Speaker of the California State Assembly, say aye “AYE” Those opposed? The ayes have it, Ladies and gentlemen…”

And with that Karen Bass was chosen as the next Assembly Speaker.  Some say it’s the second most powerful job in the state. She’s the first African American woman to hold it.  Current Speaker Fabian Nunez says it’s also a first for statehouse leadership nationwide. In very measured tones Bass addressed her colleagues and thanked them for their support. 

“To all of my colleagues I am deeply honored and deeply humbled by the trust you have placed in me. Please know that I will work to be deserving of that trust every single day I will serve as your Speaker…” 

But later with reporters, she let her hair down a bit.  One asked Bass how her style would differ from current Speaker Nunez.

“Jim, I’m still trying to come to grips that this has happened.” 

Prior to serving in the Assembly, the 54-year-old headed the Community Coalition in Los Angeles.  It’s a group that worked to replace liquor stores with other businesses in the economically challenged area. In her new role as Speaker, Bass will work with the Governor and other Legislative leaders on negotiations involving the budget and other tricky issues.  Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines welcomed her to her new job—and told her he considers her a friend. 

 “I think you are very good for this house. I think you do a great job for your district and I think you’ll do a great job for California.” 

He’ll want to keep up that good relationship— and not just for political reasons.  Bass is also a brown belt in Karate and Taekwando.  Speaker Nunez will keep his leadership position for several more months-- likely through the budget negotiations.  During that time Bass will transition into the job.