First black woman to lead state Assembly

Times Staff Writer

With a resounding "aye," the state Assembly on Thursday elected Karen Bass, a Los Angeles Democrat, as its 67th speaker.

"I am deeply honored and deeply humbled by the trust you have placed in me," Bass, 54, said moments after the vote that will vault her to one of California's most powerful political positions. She will be the first African American woman to hold the job.

The daughter of a mail carrier and a homemaker, Bass grew up in the Venice-Fairfax area and worked as a physician assistant and community organizer before her 2004 election to the Assembly.

She will assume the speakership duties from current Speaker Fabian Nunez -- who must leave the Assembly because of term limits -- at a date that has not yet been announced.

Eight other legislators had sought the speakership, but Wednesday evening, with Nunez's assistance, Bass secured enough pledges of support to trigger Thursday's vote.

As speaker, she will be responsible for running the daily operations of the 80-member Assembly, negotiating California's $141-billion budget with the governor and other legislative leaders, and raising money and organizing campaigns to ensure that Democrats do not lose the wide majority they hold in the Assembly.


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