SACRAMENTO -- The chance that Southern Californians may lead both the state Senate and Assembly in the next year is drawing concern from groups including the Bay Area Council.
They note it has been a tradition for decades that if a Northern California lawmaker led the Senate, a Southern Californian would lead the Assembly.
The last time one geographical area produced the leader of both houses was 1995, when Democrat Bill Lockyer of San Leandro in Northern California was Senate President Pro Tem and Willie Brown of San Francisco was the Assembly Speaker, according to Greg Schmidt, secretary of the Senate.
It has been nearly four decades since Southern Californians led both houses.
In 1974, Democrat James R. Mills of Coronado led the Senate and Democrat Robert Moretti of Los Angeles led the Assembly, according to Schmidt.
Currently, the Senate is led by Sacramento Democrat Darrell Steinberg and the Assembly is led by Los Angeles Democrat John Perez. Term limits prevents both from seeking reelection and now Steinberg has said he expects Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) to become the next Senate President Pro Tem later this year.
In the Assembly, a leading contender to become speaker is Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), while competition is also expected from Northern California Assemblyman Richard Gordon (D-Menlo Park).
The Bay Area Council is launching a PR campaign encouraging a continued sharing of power. "Northern California Threatened by Leadership Vote" is the title of an opinion piece written by Bay Area Council President Jim Wunderman to rally politicians to act.
"This year, Southern California leaders could seize complete control of the state legislature, winning leadership of both the Senate and the Assembly," Wunderman wrote. "We respect the importance of Southern California and often work closely with leaders there on key issues, but, for the good of California, we must continue to share leadership."