LAKEWOOD (CBSLA.com/AP) — A Democrat from Lakewood was sworn in Monday as Assembly speaker in Sacramento.
Anthony Rendon, who represents the 63rd Assembly District, is now the state’s 70th speaker to lead a chamber of 51 Democrats and 28 Republicans.
Rendon was elected under extended term limits voters approved in 2012 and could remain in office until 2024. If he hangs on to his leadership post, that could make him the longest-serving speaker since the era without term limits, which voters first approved in 1990.
The 48-year-old said one of his goals is helping the poor, especially children. “Almost 2.5 million kids in the greatest state in the most powerful nation on this planet are living in poverty right now,” Rendon said. “That’s unacceptable. We need to make investments and provide opportunities that lift California families out of poverty and give all our children a better chance.”
Rendon also wants to increase voter turnout. “We also have to step up and give people something to vote for — real actions that make real differences in real lives,” he said. “Because of the size of our state, and the scope of our challenges, there can be a tendency in the Capitol for us to think in the abstract. We have to remember that what we do here isn’t just about policies or programs — it’s about people, and the struggles they face every day.”
He was integral in negotiating a $7.5 billion water bond that voters passed in 2014, but Rendon is best known for his positions on education and the environment.
Before running for office, he led a child development program in Southern California and directed the California League of Conservation Voters.
Some of his stances put him at odds with Gov. Jerry Brown, a fellow Democrat. Rendon supports expanded funding for pre-kindergarten, taxes on oil extraction and decreased fracking in urban areas, all of which contradict the governor’s views.
Brown vetoed his three bills last year that would have required greater disclosure from California’s Public Utilities Commission.
Rendon said he has “serious questions” about the costs and science behind Brown’s plan to divert water to Southern California using two massive water tunnels. Rendon also expressed concerns about the Brown administration’s revised plan for a $64 billion high-speed rail system, which is now planned to head to the San Francisco Bay Area before heading to Southern California.
He succeeds Speaker Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat who has had the post since May 2014. She is termed out of the Assembly this year and gunning for a seat in the state Senate.
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