California lawmakers on Thursday gave final approval to the appointment of the state’s first Black top election official, filling a position vacated when the former secretary of state became California’s first Latino U.S. senator.
Assemblywoman Shirley Weber “is the right person for the job,” Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins said in supporting the nomination of her fellow San Diego Democrat to the post.
The 40-member Senate approved Weber’s nomination 29-0, with Republicans not voting. The Assembly had approved her nomination a day earlier.
Weber said in a statement that she looks “forward to lifting up and defending our democratic values of inclusivity and participation in this new role.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s appointment of Weber is part of a continuing game of political dominos that started when U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris was elected vice president in November.
Newsom appointed California’s then-Secretary of State Alex Padilla to replace Harris, angering some who felt he should have replaced her with another Black woman.
Hours later, Newsom named Weber to replace Padilla.
Atkins has now endorsed Weber’s daughter, Dr. Akilah Weber, to succeed her mother in the upcoming special election in the state’s 79th Assembly District.
In what some senators termed related election action Thursday, the chamber approved extending California’s universal vote-by-mail system for another year — including for all elections proclaimed or conducted prior to Jan. 1, 2022. That would cover a potential recall election for Newsom this year.
Senators sent the measure to the Assembly on a 29-7 roll call after rejecting GOP Sen. Brian Jones’ suggestion that the practice courts widespread improprieties, echoing then-President Donald Trump’s questioning of the integrity of mail-in elections without evidence.
“There’s just a lot of debate right now in the state of California regarding the security of our mail-in ballots,” Jones said.
Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener said the complaints are part of “a concerted effort around the country … to try to delegitimize voting in this country, to try to restrict who can vote.”