Karen Bass, a trustee of Santa Monica’s New Roads School, was elected Speaker of the California Assembly on Thursday, February 28. Bass (D-Los Angeles), the first African-American woman elected to the position, is expected to be an advocate for both education and health care in Sacramento.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said, “I am delighted with the election of Karen Bass as Assembly Speaker and congratulate her on this well-deserved position of leadership. With Assemblymember Bass as Speaker and Senator Darrell Steinberg as Senate President Pro Tem-Elect, California’s schools and students will be served by an education dream team.”
Bass won her first seat to the California Assembly in 2004. She is a physician assistant and a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants since 1990. The Academy issued a release saying that “Bass will bring a unique perspective to health care policy” and praising “her dedication to excellence and to focusing on California’s broken health care system.”
Bass, who had been Assembly Majority Leader, replaces Speaker Fabian Núñez as she received a majority of support in the Democratic caucus to win the job. Núñez said, “We are going to not only write a new chapter in California history, but I’ve been told we’re going to write a new chapter in American history by electing the first African-American woman in the history of this nation to be the Speaker of a state legislative body.”
Bass has been associated with New Roads since her daughter Amelia (who died along with her husband in a 2006 one-car crash on the 405 near LAX) was a student there and has since been on the Board of Trustees. David Bryan, Head of School, said that her contributions to the school have been “extraordinary,” particularly in meeting “the challenges of diversity” at New Roads. Commenting on her election as Speaker of the Assembly, he said, “Congratulations to the State of California.”
Bass said, “I look forward to our caucus uniting in the effort to address the current fiscal crisis and the other challenges and opportunities that we will face together and we will solve together in California.”