San Diego Democrat Toni Atkins has been voted in and sworn in as the California Senate's 48th leader. A woman who went from humble beginnings to Harvard is now leading the state legislature's upper house.
Throughout her political career, Atkins has been a champion for affordable housing, the natural environment, healthcare, veterans, women, and the LGBTQ community. She's also known for working across party lines.
“I don’t care whether you’re a Senator or an Assemblymember, a Republican or a Democrat, rural or urban, north, south or central – we are all Californians, we all represent Californians and, like California itself, we succeed or we fail together,” said Senator Atkins.
Republican Leader Pat Bates says she's excited about working with Atkins.
“Not more than maybe 48 or 72 hours after her caucus raised their hands for her, the first call she made was to me,” said Senator Bates. “She said, ‘Pat, I’d like to have an opportunity to sit down with you and talk about what you think we need to move our legislature forward.'”
When that meeting happened, Atkins immediately asked if it would be okay to meet with the Republican caucus.
“I just sat their awestruck,” said Bates. “We really need to do more of that. We are going to disagree; we are going to find two paths – but we want those paths to merge,” Bates continued.
Atkins promised to work with anyone “willing to shake off the shackles of zero-sum thinking and put some big ideas on the table for the people of California."
The first woman to lead the upper house of California's legislature says she came to the Senate to make progress, not history.