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California Elects Ph.D.|as Assembly Speaker

SACRAMENTO (CN) - The California Legislature on Monday elected Los Angeles-area Democrat Anthony Rendon as the next speaker of the Assembly.

The former teacher and environmentalist was nominated by several Democrats and by the Assembly's Republican leader. He will take over for Assembly Speaker Rep. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, on March 7.

It will be the first time in California history that both houses will be led by Latino representatives. The Senate President Pro Tem is Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles.

Rendon, 47, a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, earned his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Riverside. He is the first elected speaker since voters extended term limits in 2012 and could hold the position until 2024.

On Monday the second-term Democrat told the Assembly he is dedicated to "maximizing the potential" of the new extended term limits and that his immediate focus will be to negotiate the state's next budget, due in June.

"The Assembly has a tremendous opportunity to address not only short-term goals but also the lingering long-term issues facing our state," Rendon said.

Assembly Minority Leader Chad Mayes, R-Yucca Valley, nominated Rendon on Monday and told Assembly members that his move was "contrary to a practice that goes back decades and I've taken heat for doing so."

Mayes said the unusual gesture was meant to set an "aspirational and bipartisan tone for how we should run this house."

Elected to the Assembly in 2012, Rendon has chaired the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee and co-authored Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion water bill, approved by voters in November 2014. In 2015 he wrote Assembly Bill 530, to revitalize and clean up the Los Angeles River.

His 63rd Assembly District includes nine cities: Bell, Cudahy, Hawaiian Gardens, Lakewood, Lynwood, Maywood, Paramount, South Gate and a northern section of Long Beach.

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