Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber: California’s Next Secretary of State

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Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-79th District) (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Dr. John E. Warren | Publisher The San Diego Voice & Viewpoint

Alex Padilla, former California Secretary of State

Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to name Dr. Shirley Weber as the next California Secretary of State. The Assemblymember for the 79th District will replace Secretary Alex Padilla, who has been tapped by President-elect Joseph Biden to serve as the next Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, a major cabinet position in the new administration.

Dr. Weber, who has represented the San Diego, California area in the State Assembly since 2012, will become the 30th California Secretary of State since 1849. In taking that position, she becomes number four in the chain of succession for Governor of the State and will hold that office until 2022. The next election for that position is June 7, 2022. She will be only the fourth woman to ever hold the position and the first Black woman to do so in state history. It has been suggested that the speed with which her appointment has been announced following Padilla’s appointment to fill Harris’s seat in the U.S. Senate, might be an effort to calm Blacks who wanted that position to go to a Black woman and suggested two possible candidates.

Dr. Shirley Weber, California State Assemblymember

Dr. Weber chairs the Assembly Budget subcommittee on Public Safety, and the California Legislative Black Caucus. She also serves as a member of the Assembly Standing Committee on Education, Higher Education, Elections, Budget and Banking and Finance. In 2013, Dr. Weber was appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly as a representative to the prestigious National Education Commission of the States (ECS), a nationwide group approved by the Congress in 1965 to develop effective policy and practices for public education.

Dr. Weber has been a voice and a trailblazer in the Assembly, authoring major legislation passed by the Assembly and signed into law by the Governor.

Born to sharecroppers in Hope, Arkansas, Shirley Nash Weber has lived in California since the age of 3. Educated in inner-city public schools, she graduated with honors and entered UCLA, where she received her BA, MA and PhD by the age of 26 years. Prior to receiving her doctorate, she became a professor at San Diego State University at the age of 23. She taught in the Department of Africana Studies at San Diego University for more than forty years before retiring.

Dr. Weber’s political career started as an elected member of the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District. She also served as President of the Board during her terms of office. She is past President of the San Diego Chapter of the NAACP, and chair of the San Diego Citizens Equal Opportunity Commission.

Assemblymember Weber has long displayed an interest in the electoral process in the state of California. In 2016, she briefly served as chair of the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee. A law she wrote that same year allows some felons serving sentencing in county jail to vote while behind bars. She also authored a trio of laws in 2013 to increase voter registration information for probationers and parolees. The Secretary of State has responsibility for California’s election operations in 58 counties, setting statewide voting mandates.

The Secretary of State position has to be confirmed by both the State Assembly and the State Senate.

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