Robert Rivas, who was sworn in as speaker of the California Assembly on Friday, points out an important way that our state leads the country.
“I’m proud to lead an assembly that is the most diverse in California’s history, and among the most diverse legislative bodies in the world,” he said. “We have to always remember that our diversity is our collective heritage as Californians. Our diversity is what built this state. It is our greatest strength today and it is the foundation of our future.”
Diversity was abundantly evident at the swearing-in ceremony. The convening prayer was spoken by the Assembly’s first Muslim chaplain, Imam Yasir Khan. Rivas was sworn into office by Patricia Guerrero, chief justice of the California Supreme Court—the first Latina to hold that position. Also on the rostrum were Dr. Shirley Weber, California’s first Black Secretary of State, and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who, let’s not forget, was the first woman elected to that post.
Our friend Sara Rubin, editor of Monterey County Weekly, has been following Rivas’ work for the better part of a decade. In an inspiring report from the Assembly floor during the ceremony, Rubin explained one reason his speakership is historic.
“He is a unique person to fill the role, who comes from humble beginnings and who represents a rural area, Assembly District 29, which includes the Pajaro Valley and Salinas Valley,” Rubin writes. “He shared the story of his own beginnings and his farmworker family—grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins—pooling their savings to buy a house in Hollister in 1988, for $140,000. … The question now is whether that dream can continue to be available for future generations.”