Assembly Republicans select Kristin Olsen as next leader

Assembly Republicans select Kristin Olsen as next leader
Assembly Republicans voted Tuesday to designate Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) as their leader-elect. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Modesto Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen is next in line to lead the Assembly Republicans, after a GOP caucus vote Tuesday. 

She'll take the reins from current Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway (R-Tulare) in November. Conway is termed out of the Assembly after this year. 

Olsen, speaking to reporters after the vote, said that she will be Conway's "full and equal partner" through the November elections.

Olsen said a top priority was to "unify the caucus ... and the Republican party in California."

Assembly Republicans, she said, are "a group of people with different ideas along an ideological spectrum. It's incumbent upon the leader to bring those ideas together so we're all working toward the same goal."

Olsen also weighed in on the policy issue dominating the Capitol this summer: the attempts by lawmakers to craft a new water bond to put before voters in November.

Noting that she is the sole Republican representing part of the Delta, Olsen said she wanted a water bond that prioritized storage -- a top concern of agricultural interests -- and also one that "does not facilitate the BDCP tunnel project in any way."

Olsen was elected to the Assembly in 2010; before that, she served on the Modesto City Council.

She is currently the top-ranking Republican on the Assembly Agriculture and Education committees. She was a principal coauthor of a recently signed bill to streamline some teacher dismissals.

Olsen said education policy would continue to be a top priority for her. She had cheered the recent court decision that declared the state's teacher tenure laws unconstitutional.

Now, she said, "I do plan to work on education reform policies to be able to implement the decisions that came out of that verdict."

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