Toni Atkins wins unanimous support from Democrats for leadership post

SACRAMENTO -- Assembly Democrats made it official Wednesday: Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) is their choice to be the next speaker of the Assembly.

Atkins, who is now the Assembly majority leader, secured unanimous support from her colleagues at their weekly caucus lunch, a vote that current Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) called "significant."


"Ms. Atkins has been able to earn the respect and support from her colleagues up and down the state, from each class of the Legislature, from each geographic area, of each demographic area," Perez said.

Atkins said her agenda as top Assembly Democrat would not deviate at the outset from the priorities set by current leadership.

"Our caucus agenda has been set," Atkins said. "We know what the issues are. They've been laid out in the budget, they've been laid out by the governor, they've been laid out in the framework that we've put forward [in January]."

Perez said he and Atkins were committed to the "smoothest transition that has ever happened" between leaders. Atkins is set to officially take the role in early spring, after a floor vote by the full Assembly.

Atkins arrived in the Legislature in 2010; before that, she served eight years on the San Diego City Council. She lives in San Diego with her spouse, Jennifer LeSar.

She would be the first lesbian to serve as speaker. She follows Perez, who was the first openly gay lawmaker to hold the post.

The back-to-back leadership of LGBT legislators "shows that we are like everybody else," Atkins said. "We are doing the work that we do in public service because we care about education, we care about healthcare, we care about the environment, we care about these things and we want to be full participants in our state and in our communities."