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Dr. Shirley Weber Makes History As The First Black Secretary of State In California

Dr. Shirley Weber Makes History As The First Black Secretary of State In California

She is forging a new path forward!

Dr. Shirley Weber was sworn in as California's new secretary of state, Weber making history as the state's first Black Secretary of State, Politico reports. 

Weber is a San Diego Democrat and former professor of Africana Studies at San Diego State University, where she served for more than four decades. During that time, she spearheaded the push for low-income students of color to have opportunities in the legislature. She eventually lead the California Legislative Black Caucus in its last two-year session, while introducing a bill that passed last October that clears the path for reparations in California. She is also the author of a 2019 law redefining the procedure for law enforcement related to the use of deadly force.

“The fact that each citizen is a primary officeholder in a democracy is the lodestone tenet of our system of government. It is my responsibility as Secretary of State to ensure that more Californians are able to exercise that power through the electoral process, and that our elections remain secure, accessible and fair even under the most adverse conditions,” Secretary of State Dr. Weber said in a statement. “Dr. King teaches us that we are at our best when we stand up in service of others and I am humbled to be able to continue to stand up for Californians as Secretary of State. I thank the Governor for his nomination, the State Senators and Assemblymembers who confirmed my appointment, and the Californians who expressed their faith in my ability to assume this critical office. I look forward to lifting up and defending our democratic values of inclusivity and participation in this new role.”

Former Secretary of State Alex Padilla was recently appointed to the U.S. Senate, filling the seat left vacant by Vice President Kamala Harris. Weber was confirmed to replace Padillas' seat by the Senate in a 29-0 vote last week, just one day after the Assembly backed her 70-0. She has received support on both sides of the aisle and will make history as the first Black woman to hold the title of elections chief in the state, one of the primary duties in her new role. California has the largest elections system in the nation, and Weber has already announced her intentions to run for election next year to continue holding office even after her term expires. 

As Secretary of State, Weber has plans to prioritize expanding voter turnout and boosting civic education. She was in support of legislation to permanently make mail balloting an option in California, something the city implemented due to the coronavirus pandemic. The state saw voter participation skyrocket to more than 80% of residents registered, and Weber hopes to continue that streak.

"We shouldn't have [a] crisis as the foundation for, basically, having turnout," Weber said. 

Her departure from the Democratic Assembly leaves her seat wide open with several potential candidates on deck - chief of them being her daughter, Akilah Weber, whom California Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins just endorsed. 

Congratulations, Dr. Weber!

Photo Courtesy of David Brooks/The San Diego Union-Tribune