The San Diego Assemblymember and Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, Shirley Weber, has been nominated by Gov. Gavin Newsom as the next California Secretary of State. If approved by the state legislature, Weber will be the first Black woman to ever hold the position of California Secretary of State.
The 72-year-old has represented the 79th Assembly District since 2012. She was a professor at the San Diego State University and has served on the San Diego Board of Education.
After confirmation, Weber will be the fourth woman to be named California’s Secretary of State otherwise known as California’s chief elections officer, a role Weber was born to hold because her family has been involved in getting people to vote.
The California native’s parents were sharecroppers from Arkansas who fled a lynch mob and finally settled in Los Angles. Weber’s family fled Arkansas when she was only three because her sharecropper father had refused to “back down during a dispute with a white farmer”, a report said. Per a press release, Weber’s father did not get to vote until his 30s and her grandfather died before the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965, so voting was only a dream he held on to till he died.
“Dr. Weber is a tireless advocate and change agent with unimpeachable integrity,” Newsom said in a written statement, noting her family’s trek to Los Angeles from the rural South where they were not allowed to vote, LA Times reports.
As a child in South Central Los Angeles, her parents were voting activists who availed their living room for the state to use as a local polling station. Weber recalls seeing them rearrange furniture at their home to serve as a polling site for different elections.
“Now, she’ll be at the helm of California’s elections as the next Secretary of State — defending and expanding the right to vote and serving as the first African American to be California’s Chief Elections Officer,” said Newsom.
Retired professor Weber earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees at UCLA. She received her doctorate from the same school at the age of 26 and worked for over four decades at the Department of Africana Studies at San Diego State University.
The mother of two and wife of the late California state Judge Daniel Weber said she is up for the challenge, adding that the integrity of the voting system will be her priority.
“I am excited to be nominated for this historic appointment as the secretary of state of California,” Weber said. I thank Governor Newsom for the confidence he’s placed in me and his belief that I will stand strong for California. Being the first African-American woman in this position will be a monumental responsibility, but I know that I am up for the challenge,” she said, ABC7 reported.
She has always fought for the passage of bills for those who are unable to fight for themselves and now she will be in a better position to continue. “Expanding voting rights has been one of the causes of my career and will continue to motivate me as I assume my new constitutional duties,” she added.
Her predecessor, Alex Padilla, was appointed around the same time by Gov. Newsom to represent California at the senate, a seat previously held by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. The appointment makes Padilla California’s first Latino U.S. senator.
Padilla refers to Weber as a fierce advocate for civil rights and voting rights. She is also a mentor to many in her community and has created a leadership network for young women of color.