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The 2022 elections revealed some notable firsts to California's highest state and municipal offices

Dr. Weber takes her oath of office to serve as California's first elected Black secretary of state

By ONME Newswire

Twitter - Vice President Kamala Harris

This 2022 election marks several, notable, historical first among Black candidates now serving in very powerful positions in California's legislature as elected officials.

ONME News first noted that former congresswoman, Karen Bass, became the second Black elected-mayor of Los Angeles but the first female to serve in the position; Los Angeles is the biggest city in California with over 3.9 million people. Such a seat will require political prowess due to the many woes that plaque the southern California city.

Meanwhile, former chair of the California State Board of Equalization, Malia

Twitter - Malia cohen

Cohen, sworn into office Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, became the first Black woman to serve as state controller; this involves disbursing state funds, auditing government agencies and serving on more than 70 boards and commissions. Cohen will be California’s chief fiscal officer.

The oath of office was administered by Governor Gavin Newsom.

“I am proud and honored to serve as California’s State Controller,” said Controller Cohen. “The work to create a more equitable California has already begun. I look forward to ensuring fiscal accountability, with an eye toward transparency and innovation.”

Prior to being elected to the Board of Equalization, Board Chair Cohen served as President of the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco. She was first elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.

As a Member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, she served as the Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee. As Finance Chair, she oversaw the adoption of an $11 billion budget, and measures concerning bond issues, taxes, fees, and redevelopment and real estate matters. She also served as a fiduciary member of the San Francisco Transportation Authority, which manages the proceeds of a half-cent sales tax that generates $100 million annually for transportation investments in the County.

Previously, she served as a Commissioner of the San Francisco Employee Retirement System (SFERS), which manages a $23 billion pension fund. As President of SFERS, she led efforts to divest from fossil fuels and thermal coal investments and moved $100 million into a fossil fuel-free index fund.

Throughout her life, Board Chair Cohen has fought for diversity and inclusion. She has championed policies and programs that protect public health, foster economic development, promote new affordable housing, and that create good jobs through protecting and expanding our manufacturing base.

Board Chair Cohen was born and raised in San Francisco. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Fisk University, a historically Black university in Nashville, Tennessee, and a Masters in Science in Public Policy & Management from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Twitter - Dr. Shirley Weber

Also at the state of California legislative level, Dr. Shirley Nash Weber, Ph.D., will serve as the first elected Black secretary of state. Sworn in Jan 10, 2023, Dr. Weber will serve as the 32nd Secretary of State of California.

Dr. Weber, Ph.D. was nominated to serve as California Secretary of State by Governor Gavin Newsom on December 22, 2020 and sworn into office on January 29, 2021. She was California’s first Black Secretary of State then to be nominated, and only the fifth African American to serve as a state constitutional officer in California’s 170-year history.

The Secretary of State's office comprises nearly 500 people who are dedicated to making government more transparent and accessible in the areas of elections, business, political campaigning, legislative advocacy, and historical records.

The Secretary of State's responsibilities include:

  • Serving as the state's Chief Elections Officer

  • Implementing electronic filing and Internet disclosure of campaign and lobbyist financial information

  • Maintaining business filings

  • Commissioning notaries public

  • Operating the Safe at Home confidential address program

  • Maintaining the Domestic Partners and Advance Health Care Directive Registries

  • Safeguarding the State Archives

  • Serving as a trustee of the California Museum

Dr. Weber was born to sharecroppers in Hope, Arkansas during the segregationist Jim Crow era. Her father, who left Arkansas after being threatened by a lynch mob, did not have the opportunity to vote until he was in his 30s. Her grandfather never voted as custom and law in the South, before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, systemically suppressed voting by Blacks. Although her family moved to California when Weber was three years old, it was her family’s experience in the Jim Crow South that has driven her activism and legislative work. She has fought to secure and expand civil rights for all Californians, including restoring voting rights for individuals who have completed their prison term.

Dr. Weber attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she received her BA, MA and PhD by the age of 26. Prior to receiving her doctorate, she became a professor at San Diego State University (SDSU) at the age of 23. She also taught at California State University at Los Angeles (CSULA) and Los Angeles City College before coming to SDSU. She retired from the Department of Africana Studies after 40 years as a faculty member and serving several terms as department chair.

Before her appointment, Secretary Weber served four terms as an Assembly Member representing California's 79th Assembly District, which includes parts of the City of San Diego as well as several cities and communities in the San Diego region. Weber also served as a member and chair of the San Diego Unified School District and has twice served as a California Elector, including chairing the California College of Presidential Electors on December 14, 2020.

During her tenure in the Assembly, Weber chaired the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee, Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety, and Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health. Weber was the first African American to serve as the chair of the Assembly Budget Committee. She also served as a member of the Standing Committees on Education, Higher Education, Elections, Budget, Banking and Finance.

In addition, Weber chaired the Select Committee on Campus Climate, which was created to examine and mitigate hate crimes on California’s college and university campuses. The committee also explored student hunger, sexual assaults, homelessness, and freedom of expression. She formerly created and chaired the Select Committee on Higher Education in San Diego County, which explored the need for an additional higher education facility in San Diego and ways to improve the quality, affordability and equal access of higher education in the region.

From 2019 - 2020, she served as chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC), which consists of the state’s African American legislators and has the goal of promoting equal opportunity for California’s African American community. Weber broke records during her tenure by garnering extraordinary support for CLBC’s efforts and its projects.

Weber’s genuine passion and tireless quest for equality and fairness in all sectors of life have resulted in her pursuit of reforms in education and criminal justice. Her equity-oriented legislation includes: school finance and accountability, classroom safety, ethnic studies, early learners, attendance and dropout rates, quality instruction, law enforcements’ use-of-force and body camera practices, reparations, the CalGangs’ database, Affirmative Action, inclusive jury selection and instruction, predatory lending, resources for exonerees, restorative justice, racial profiling, among others. Weber has also pursued public policy changes related to health, senior citizens, veterans and military families.

Secretary Weber is a mother of two adult children, three grandchildren and was married for 29 years to the late Honorable Daniel Weber. She is number six in a family of eight children. Her Parents, David and Mildred Nash, are deceased. Her hobbies are reading and traveling


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