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Ricardo Lara on the floor of the state Senate in 2016.
Ricardo Lara on the floor of the state Senate in 2016. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Ricardo Lara took the oath of office as California insurance commissioner on Monday, pledging action to boost healthcare coverage and combat climate change.

Lara, a Democrat from Bell Gardens, is the first elected statewide officeholder in California who has come out as gay. He began his speech in downtown Sacramento by thanking LGBTQ leaders who came before him and celebrated the occasion.

“Today, because of you, we’ve shattered the pink ceiling,” Lara said.

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New Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, center, is shown in June talking with attendees at the Power to the Polls rally in Sacramento.
New Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, center, is shown in June talking with attendees at the Power to the Polls rally in Sacramento. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

More Californians should be given access to public universities, Eleni Kounalakis said as she took the oath of office Monday to become the state’s first woman elected lieutenant governor.

Kounalakis was given the oath of office by Gov. Gavin Newsom, her predecessor in the job, who pledged they would work together.

As lieutenant governor, Kounalakis serves on the University of California Board of Regents and the California State University Board of Trustees, she noted in a speech at her swearing-in ceremony at the main Sacramento Library.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom gives his inaugural address while holding his youngest son, Dutch.
Gov. Gavin Newsom gives his inaugural address while holding his youngest son, Dutch. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

In the California political world, all eyes were on Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday until his 2-year-old son stole the show.

Dutch, the youngest of four children in the Newsom brood, climbed onstage in the middle of his father’s inaugural address in a tent outside the Capitol on Monday. The unplanned moment saw the 51-year-old governor’s big day interrupted by the toddler, bringing levity to the ceremony.

Newsom was recounting Gov. Jerry Brown’s last inaugural speech and reference to the Sermon on the Mount, a biblical story about two men who built separate homes on sand and rock, when Dutch approached his father, a pacifier in his mouth and blanket in hand.

State Treasurer Fiona Ma.
State Treasurer Fiona Ma.

Fiona Ma took the oath of office in Sacramento on Monday as the state’s 34th treasurer, promising to boost California’s economy.

Ma previously served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, in the state Assembly and on the California Board of Equalization. 

“I want to thank everyone for entrusting me with this important job. I understand my role here as your state treasurer is to build that financial wall around California so that we will remain the fifth-largest economy,” Ma said in brief remarks. “That is my promise to you.”

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  • California Democrats
Tony Thurmond shakes hands with retired Alameda County Superior Court Judge Gordon Baranco after taking the oath of office.
Tony Thurmond shakes hands with retired Alameda County Superior Court Judge Gordon Baranco after taking the oath of office. (Melody Gutierrez / Los Angeles Times)

Tony Thurmond took the oath of office as California’s state superintendent of public schools on Monday, promising a labor-friendly agenda before the teachers, students and Democratic officials who filled an auditorium at McClatchy High School in Sacramento to watch him being sworn in.

“We can’t close the achievement gap without a great teacher at the head of every class,” Thurmond said Monday to applause. “We have to make sure we provide quality compensation and support to our teachers and our classified staff and all the educators who support our kids.”

Thurmond, a Bay Area Democrat who served in the state Assembly, won a hotly contested and expensive race with the help of labor leaders against charter school executive Marshall Tuck. The race took several days to sort out after Tuck held an initial lead in early returns on election night before falling behind thereafter.

State Controller Betty Yee
State Controller Betty Yee

California Controller Betty Yee took the oath of office Monday for a second term, saying she still has work to do addressing problems that include a lack of affordability in housing, healthcare and higher education.

A San Francisco native, Yee is the chief financial officer of California — the fifth-largest economy in the world — having first won election to the post in 2014 before winning reelection in November.

“No region is spared from the widening inequality and increased poverty that plague our state, fueled by the lack of affordable, stable housing, the cost of healthcare and transportation, limited educational opportunities, student loan debt, displacement caused by disasters and more,” she said.

  • State government
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra on Monday took the oath of office for a new term, saying he would continue his role as a leading challenger to Trump administration actions that he believes are counter to the state’s interests.

Becerra, a former 12-term congressman, has become a national opposition figure to Trump, having sued the federal government 45 times since he was appointed as the state’s first Latino attorney general in 2017.

“We’ve been a little busy stopping the dysfunction and insanity in Washington, D.C., from infecting California,” Becerra told an audience during a swearing-in ceremony at the California Museum in Sacramento.

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Daraka Larimore-Hall.
Daraka Larimore-Hall. (Dominic Parisi / Courtesy of Daraka Larimore-Hall)

Daraka Larimore-Hall, a top official at the California Democratic Party, said Monday he’s running to replace former chairman Eric Bauman, who resigned abruptly in November after being confronted with allegations of sexual misconduct.

Larimore-Hall, a longtime state party activist and former chairman of the Democratic Party of Santa Barbara County, was one of the party leaders who urged Bauman to resign following the allegations.

In an email to supporters announcing his bid, he urged “both structural and cultural change at every level of our Party.” He also repeated his call for a “top-to-bottom investigation” of the allegations, the party and its culture.

  • State government
  • California Democrats
Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom and his family attend an Inauguration Family Event at the California Railroad Museum in Sacramento on Jan. 6.
Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom and his family attend an Inauguration Family Event at the California Railroad Museum in Sacramento on Jan. 6. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Building on the theme of California exceptionalism that defined his campaign, Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom will depict the state as a guardian of progressive values and a counterweight to President Trump in his inaugural address Monday, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks.

“What we do today is even more consequential, because of what’s happening in our country,” read the excerpts obtained by The Times. “People’s lives, freedom, security, the water we drink, the air we breathe — they all hang in the balance. The country is watching us. The world is waiting on us. The future depends on us. And we will seize this moment.”

The speech casts California’s political stakes in a decidedly national scope, promising an agenda that will unify and be an example to the rest of the country. It contrasts the governing goals of Newsom, a Democrat, with that of Trump, the incoming governor’s perennial foil.