Blacks given key leadership roles in state Assembly

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By Antonio Ray Harvey

Contributing Writer

SACRAMENTO — After being sworn in as speaker of the state Assembly June 30, Assemblyman Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, has appointed two members of the California Legislative Black Caucus to key leadership positions. 

Rivas announced that Assemblyman Isaac Bryan, D-Culver City, and Lori Wilson, D-Suisun City, will be part of a team of eight Democratic lawmakers who will lead the proceedings of the 80-member body for the 2023-25 legislative term. 

“The historic diversity of our caucus speaks to the remarkable lived experiences across our great state,” Rivas tweeted on July 3. “Our leadership team also reflects this diversity so that we can uplift all residents. I look forward to the work ahead of us.” 

Bryan, a vocal supporter of Rivas who backed the speaker’s candidacy, was appointed majority leader. Wilson was named majority whip.

As the highest-ranking officer of the Assembly, Rivas has the authority to appoint Assembly members to leadership positions at the beginning of each two-year legislative session. The speaker or his designee presides over the floor sessions.

Also appointed to leadership roles were: Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters, as speaker pro tempore; Stephanie Nguyen, D-Elk Grove, as assistant speaker pro tempore; Gregg Hart, D-Santa Barbara, as assistant majority leader; Matt Haney, D-San Francisco, as assistant majority whip; Josh Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, as a second assistant majority whip; and Rick Chavez Zbur, D-Santa Monica, as Democratic Caucus chair.

As majority leader, Bryan is responsible for expediting Assembly floor proceedings using parliamentary procedures such as motions and points of order. He is also expected to foster harmony among the membership.

Bryan, 31, represents the 55th Assembly District, which consists of Baldwin Hills, the Crenshaw District, Culver City, Ladera Heights, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms, Pico-Robertson, Beverly Grove, Mid-Wilshire, and parts of South Los Angeles. He assumed office in May 2021 after winning a special election to succeed Sydney Kamlager, who had been elected to the state Senate.

After being sworn in as majority leader, Bryan expressed his intention to address issues facing Californians who are undergoing hardships.

“There are a lot of people in California who are still hurting and there’s a lot of work we can do to alleviate that,” Bryan said. “It first starts with us coming together, building a different kind of culture in the body with all the new members who are here.”

While speaking on the floor of the Assembly last week, Bryan thanked Rivas for his “trust,” and his colleagues and constituents for their support.

“Change isn’t about a person, me included,” Bryan said. “We all have the power to make a difference in the lives of others. Let’s use that power.”

As majority whip, Wilson is responsible for monitoring legislation and securing votes for bills on the Assembly floor. Wilson’s appointment marks the first time that Black women have held the position of majority whip in both houses of the Legislature at the same time. Sen. Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, D-Los Angeles, also a member of the California Legislative Black Caucus, is the Senate’s majority whip.

Wilson, 48, who assumed office in April 2022, after winning a special election, represents the 11th Assembly District, which includes Solano County and parts of Contra Costa County. 

Antonio Ray Harvey writes for California Black Media.

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