Toni Atkins

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Toni Atkins
Atkins Headshot.jpg
69th Speaker of the California State Assembly
Incumbent
Assumed office
May 12, 2014
Governor Jerry Brown
Preceded by John Pérez
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 78th district
76th district (2010–2012)
Incumbent
Assumed office
December 6, 2010
Preceded by Lori Saldaña
Majority Leader of the California State Assembly
In office
September 1, 2012 – May 12, 2014
Preceded by Charles Calderon
Succeeded by V. Manuel Perez
Member of San Diego City Council representing the Third District
In office
December 4, 2000 – December 8, 2008
Preceded by Christine Kehoe
Succeeded by Todd Gloria
Acting Mayor of San Diego
In office
July 18, 2005 – December 5, 2005
Preceded by Michael Zucchet (acting)
Succeeded by Jerry Sanders
Personal details
Born (1962-08-01) August 1, 1962 (age 52)
Wythe County, Virginia
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jennifer LeSar
Residence San Diego, California
Alma mater Emory and Henry College
Harvard University

Toni G. Atkins (born August 1, 1962) is an American Democratic politician from San Diego, California. She is the Speaker of the California State Assembly and a member representing the 78th district. In January 2014 she was elected by the Democratic caucus to be the next Speaker of the Assembly, and on March 17, 2014, she was unanimously elected Speaker by the full Assembly.[1] She is the third woman and the first acknowledged lesbian to be elected to that position.[2] She is the first lawmaker from San Diego to be elected Speaker.[1] She formerly served on San Diego City Council from 2000 to 2008, including a term as Acting Mayor. She acted as the acting governor of California for nine hours on July 30, 2014, making her the first openly gay governor of California. [3] [4]

Early life and education[edit]

She was born in poverty in Wythe County in southwest Virginia. Her father was a miner and her mother a seamstress; she grew up in a home with no running water.[1] She earned a BA in political science from Emory and Henry College, focusing on community organizing. She later attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Atkins relocated to San Diego in 1985.

San Diego City Council[edit]

When she first came to San Diego, she joined the staff of Womancare Health Center as Director of Clinic Services. She then served for a number of years as council representative and policy analyst to City Councilmember Christine Kehoe. When Kehoe was elected to the state legislature, Atkins was elected to Kehoe's City Council seat on November 7, 2000. She was reelected in March 2004, without the need for a November runoff.

In April 2005 Mayor Dick Murphy resigned after criticism of his handing of the city's fiscal problems.[5] Councilmember Michael Zucchet, who was deputy mayor, took over, but three days later, resigned along with Councilmember Ralph Inzunza after they were convicted of wire fraud and Hobbs Act violations. In an emergency vote on July 19, Atkins was chosen by the other five council members to take over as mayor pro-tem for one week. On July 25 they reaffirmed their choice and designated Atkins deputy mayor to serve until Jerry Sanders was sworn in as mayor on December 5.[6] Atkins was the first openly lesbian mayor of San Diego.

While on the council, she represented the City of San Diego at the San Diego Chapter of the League of Cities as well as on the board and executive committee of the Metropolitan Transit System. She sat on the San Diego Association of Governments (SanDAG) Regional Housing Working Group, as an alternate to the Transportation Committee and the Regional Planning Committee, and the City/County Joint Homeless Task Force. She continues to serve on the San Diego River Conservancy as an appointee of former California State Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson. She lists among her priorities affordable housing, workers' rights, neighborhood revitalization and redevelopment of San Diego's older urban neighborhoods.

State legislature[edit]

She was elected to the State Assembly in November 2010, receiving 57.7% of the vote.[7] She represented the 76th Assembly district. In November 2012 she ran in the 78th Assembly district due to redistricting, and won with 62% of the vote.[8]

In 2012 she introduced AB 1522, a bill to prevent the granting of financial support and other spousal rights to abusive spouses. The bill was inspired by the case of a San Diego woman who was ordered to pay legal fees and spousal support to her ex-husband even though he was in prison for abusing her.[9]

Since 2012 she has been the majority leader of the California Assembly, and in January 2014 she was chosen by the Democratic Caucus to take over as Speaker of the Assembly later in the year, replacing termed-out speaker John Pérez. She is the first Speaker of the Assembly from San Diego; the first lesbian to hold the position; and the third woman to do so.[10] Atkins was reelected as Speaker by the Democratic caucus in November 2014.

Personal[edit]

Atkins is one of eight members of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus. She lives in the South Park neighborhood with her spouse Jennifer.[11]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Zucchet (acting)
Mayor of San Diego, California (acting)
2005
Succeeded by
Jerry Sanders
Preceded by
John Pérez
Speaker of the California State Assembly
2014-present
Incumbent