Gov. Newsom Nominates CLBC Pro-Reparations Dr. Shirley Weber Secretary of State
California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently nominated Assemblywoman Dr. Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) as Secretary of State to replace Alex Padilla after he fills Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ seat in the Senate.
California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) member Dr. Weber was the major force behind the push for reparations in the state. In June, the reparations bill she authored was passed by the California Assembly. Newsom signed off on the historic bill in November, making California the first state in the U.S. to agree to study and develop proposals for reparations for slavery.
Newsom’s Weber pick came hours after he selected Padilla to be California’s next U.S. senator.
If confirmed, Weber will become the first-ever African American to serve as Secretary of State of California, The Los Angeles Sentinel reported.
“Dr. Weber is a tireless advocate and change agent with unimpeachable integrity,” Newsom said. “The daughter of sharecroppers from Arkansas, Dr. Weber’s father didn’t get to vote until his 30s and her grandfather never got to vote because he died before the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965. When her family moved to South Central Los Angeles, she saw as a child her parents rearrange furniture in their living room to serve as a local polling site for multiple elections. Now, she’ll be at the helm of California’s elections as the next Secretary of State – defending and expanding the right to vote and serving as the first African American to be California’s Chief Elections Officer.”
Weber has been an Assemblymember since 2012. She is a former president of the San Diego Board of Education and a retired Africa Studies Department professor for 40 years at San Diego State University. She chairs the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety and the CLBC.
She also serves as a member of the Assembly Standing Committees on Education, Higher Education, Elections, Budget, and Banking and Finance. And she chairs the Select Committee on Campus Climate, which was created to examine and mitigate hate crimes on California’s college and university campuses.
Weber has played a role in police reform. In August 2019, she introduced and passed historic legislation on police reform. Assembly Bill (AB) 392, also known as the “California Act to Save Lives” is one the toughest in the U.S. against the use of deadly force by police.
Her nomination to replace Padilla is subject to confirmation by the California State Assembly and Senate. A decision must be made within 90 days.
“Being the first African American woman in this position will be a monumental responsibility, but I know that I am up for the challenge,” Weber said. “Expanding voting rights has been one of the causes of my career and will continue to motivate me as I assume my new constitutional duties.”
Taisha Brown, the president of the California Democratic Party Black Caucus (CDP Black Caucus) said she is excited for Weber’s appointment but disappointed that the governor did not select a Black woman to replace Harris in the U.S. Senate.
“I am happy. I don’t think they could’ve picked a better Black woman to take Alex Padilla’s spot,” Brown told the L.A. Sentinel. “But I will say that it is not enough and does not satisfy the fact there is not one Black woman in the United States Senate.”
There was a major push for Newsom to replace Harris with another Black woman. Newsom received letters from two women’s groups insisting he ensure the seat went to a Black woman. Harris is the only Black woman in the Senate. She will step down in January to take her place as the newly elected vice president.
More than 100 women affiliated with Black Women United urged Newsom to select either Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland, Calif. or Rep. Karen Bass of Los Angeles, Politico reported. Black Women United is a national collaboration of leading Black women.
“Black women have continuously been credited with saving the Democratic Party. By retaining the only seat held in the U.S. Senate by a Black woman, California has an opportunity to do more than just thank Black women,’’ the women stated in the letter. “Congresswoman Bass and Congresswoman Lee, both of whom are seasoned policymakers and proven leaders, will hit the ground running to address the devastating economic impact and health effects of the covid-19 pandemic,’’ the letter states.
In addition to Black Women United, Let’s Keep the Seat, a group representing dozens of female elected officials in California, also wrote Newsom urging him to remember the role Black women played in President-elect Biden’s election.
“With Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris’ departure, there will be NO African American women in the entire U.S. Senate. This is unacceptable in general, but especially troubling now given the racially charged issues confronting our society and the need for more diverse representation,’’ the group’s members state in the letter.
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Weber was among those who signed the letter, along with Autumn Burke and Sydney Kamlager-Dove, as well as L.A. County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell, Board of Equalization member Malia Cohen, Compton Mayor Aja Brown, Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson and dozens of others.
Weber is the mother of two children. She has two grandsons and a granddaughter and is the widow of the late Hon. Daniel Weber, a California state judge.