Deborah Ortiz

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Deborah V. Ortiz is an American politician from Sacramento, California. A Democrat, she served in both chambers of the California State Legislature. A then-member of Sacramento City Council, Ortiz was elected to the California State Assembly in 1996 and served a single two-year term representing the 9th Assembly district. In 1998, she was elected to the California State Senate from the 6th Senate district with 55% of the vote and won re-election in 2002 with 70.8% of the vote. Term limits prevented her from seeking a third Senate term in 2006; she instead ran unsuccessfully for Secretary of State. Currently she is serving as Vice President of Policy at the California Primary Care Association.[1]

Sacramento City Council[edit]


Ortiz was first elected to public office in a special election in 1993 when she was elected to the Sacramento City Council. She took the seat of Joe Serna who had been elected Mayor of Sacramento in November 1992. Prior to that she had served as Chief of Staff to then State Assemblyman Richard Polanco and as a leader at the Latino Coalition for Fair Sacramento Redistricting.

Ortiz had also served on the Sacramento County Planning Commission, the Oak Park Project Area Committee and the UC Davis Medical Center Community Advisory Board.


Ortiz was known as a major advocate for Oak Park, the neighborhood where she lived and was raised in. Oak Park had a long history as one of the most blighted and crime ridden neighborhoods in the entire city. In 1995, Ortiz managed to have US Bank open the first new bank in Oak Park in thirty years. She was also successful in bringing a full sized grocery store to the area.

1996 Assembly bid[edit]

After nearly four years on the city council, Ortiz decided to run for the Assembly seat that Phil Isenberg, a former Mayor of Sacramento was vacating due to term limits. In the Democratic primary, she faced County Supervisor Roger Dickinson and Bill Camp. In a three-way race, Ortiz defeated Dickinson and Camp by over 50%. Ortiz was easily elected in the November general election against token opposition.

Legislative issues[edit]

Ortiz focused on health and education and passed the first law in the nation protecting embryonic stem cell research. She was the first legislator to ban sodas from schools, created the California Biomonitoring Program and created the California Department of Public Health. Ortiz also authored the historic Cal Grant Scholarship Program that guarantees college grants for poor and working class students who attend California schools. Major issues that Ortiz fought for while in the legislature included stem cell research, and obesity prevention.

Ortiz is well known for authoring the California Freedom of Access to Clinic and Church Entrances Act (or California FACE Act) and the Reproductive Rights Law Enforcement Act in 2001. Passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Davis, the law protects reproductive health care clients, providers and assistants and also worshipers and places of worship. Motivated by attacks on abortion patients, providers, clinics, and clinic escorts, it targets crimes, not First Amendment-protected speech.

She also authored laws that required criminal background checks for school employees after the death of Michelle Montoya at Rio Linda High School. Michelle Montoya was brutally raped and murdered on a school campus by a janitor that had been released from prison for manslaughter. Montoya was the daughter of a friend of Ortiz. [2]

Ortiz also passed laws to create funding for ovarian cancer research and laws to assure access to emergency contraception.

One of the most controversial bills she sponsored was SB 400 - the controversial bill generously increased retirement benefits for state, local and safety employees. Many argue that changes enacted by the bill are the sole reason for the fiscal crisis in the State of California.

2006 bid for Secretary of State[edit]

Ortiz was termed out of office in 2006 having served two terms in the Senate. Thus, she decided to run for Secretary of State against incumbent Bruce McPherson. However, Ortiz lost the June 6, 2006 Democratic primary to fellow State Senator Debra Bowen (D-Marina del Rey) who ended up defeating McPherson in November.


Ortiz was born and raised in the Oak Park neighborhood of the City of Sacramento. Ortiz received her undergraduate degree from UC Davis and her law degree from McGeorge School of Law. She is currently serving as Vice President of Policy at the California Primary Care Association.


  1. ^ [1] California Primary Care Association Website
  2. ^ Ingram, Carl (1997-07-09). "Curbs on Hiring Ex-Felons in School Jobs Advance". Retrieved 2014-03-26. 

Offices held[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Leroy F. Greene
California State Senator, 6th District
1998 – 2006
Succeeded by
Darrell Steinberg
Preceded by
Phil Isenberg
California State Assemblywoman, 9th District
1996 – 1998
Succeeded by
Darrell Steinberg