By Tina Rynberg and Jeff Benesch
Most of the nearly 500 members of the large and influential La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club live within the boundaries of the 39th State Senatorial District and are represented by State Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins. We are thrilled to be hosting Atkins at our 2019 kick-off meeting on Wednesday night, Jan. 2.
We’ll be starting with a year in review and hear the senator talk about initiatives that she put forward in 2018. She’ll be concentrating on issues that directly impact the 39th. Her take on the future of the stadium property, and SDSU’s future expansion into Mission Valley should be fascinating. All of us will be affected in some way by major developments in Mission Valley East, especially the river park, campus expansion, traffic and housing challenges and a new sports stadium.
This past year, we’ve had meetings touching on women’s health and breast cancer, affordable housing, human trafficking, San Diego River conservancy (and the stadium measures), women empowerment in corporate institutions, global climate action, and the homelessness crisis. Atkins has had bills passed and signed on most of these important issues, so to have her discuss her initiatives will be a great follow-up to our previous discussions in these important and relevant areas.
And lastly, she’ll look into 2019, what’s in store legislatively and politically, and what her role will be in countering the Trump agenda and it’s destructive policies at the border, on trade, global warming, women’s rights, and immigration reform. It should be highly instructive and interesting given that Democrats hold a super majority in both houses, and every statewide elected office, including new Governor Gavin Newsom. How exactly will the “blue wave” manifest itself in California’s legislature in 2019? Bring your questions as Atkins will conduct an extensive Q&A session after her remarks.
Atkins served as an aide to San Diego City Councilmember and LGBT trailblazer Christine Kehoe, and, in 2000, was elected to replace Kehoe as the council’s District 3 representative. During her eight-year tenure, Atkins provided steady leadership as interim Mayor of San Diego amid a challenging and tumultuous time at City Hall.
Elected by voters to the state Assembly in 2010, Atkins served there for six years. In 2014, her colleagues selected her to be the Speaker of the Assembly – she became the first San Diegan and the first lesbian to hold the position. Atkins counts a major $7.5-billion water bond, creation of the state’s first Earned Income Tax Credit, and passage of two on-time, balanced budgets among her proudest accomplishments.
In 2016, Atkins was elected to represent the 39th District in the state Senate and was appointed to the prestigious Rules Committee, in addition to the committees on Transportation and Housing, Health, Labor and Industrial Relations, and Natural Resources and Water. Among the bills she got passed and signed was SB 2, which created a permanent source of funding for affordable housing, a signature piece of legislation she had worked on for seven years.
In January 2018, after just one year in the Senate, she was elected by her colleagues to be the next Senate President pro Tempore. In March 2018, she was sworn in, becoming the first woman and the first openly LGBTQ person to lead the Legislature’s upper house.
The Jan. 2 meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Drive, La Mesa. Please view our website at Lamesafoothillsdemocraticclub.com and like us on Facebook.
—Tina Rynberg is president and Jeff Benesch is vice president of programming for the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club.