For the first time in its history the California legislature is headed by Latinos, after Anthony Rendon became the state’s Assembly speaker.
Rendon was sworn in on Tuesday during a ceremony attended by state officials including Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Rendon and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, both Democrats, are of Mexican heritage.
Rendon is the fifth Latino speaker of the Assembly. De Leon is the first Latino to lead the Senate in the history of California.
"This is a very exciting time in the Golden State," Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, told Fox News Latino. “We can all be very proud. These are two Latinos who have had very humble origins and have demonstrated to be outstanding leaders."
Alejo added that from now on the California legislature will be able to push forward more measures that help minorities.
“With these two leaders at both California houses playing key roles, we are going to see more policies that help the poor and help the state Latinos.”
Following his swearing in, Rendon said he will focus on poverty, monitoring and participation.
"It is unacceptable that nearly 2.5 million children in this great state of the most powerful nation on the planet live in poverty. We need to invest and give them opportunities," Rendon added.
De Leon said in a statement that he is looking forward to a long and productive working relationship with Rendon.
“Together, we can forge common sense solutions for the betterment of all Californians," De Leon added.
Because of new term limits in the state, Rendon could remain in charge of the lower house through 2024, assuming he wins re-election and retains the support of his colleagues.
Lawmakers elected starting in 2012 can serve 12 years in one house, rather than being restricted to just six years in the Assembly and eight in the Senate.
Rendon was elected to the Assembly in 2012. He had held leadership roles with environmental and early childhood services organizations, which prompted his desire to make early childhood education a focus.
His central role in negotiating a water bond deal in 2014 raised his profile. He emerged last fall from a group of Assembly members competing to replace Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, as speaker.
Marcia Facundo is a freelance journalist who currently reports from Los Angeles, California. She has worked for El Nuevo Herald and as Hispanic Affairs Correspondent for the BBC World Service.
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