- Associated Press - Monday, January 11, 2016

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A former nonprofit director, environmentalist and recipient of national humanities fellowship will become California’s next Assembly speaker after the state Legislature officially selected him Monday.

Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, is best known in Sacramento for his leadership in negotiating the $7.5 billion water bond that voters approved in 2014. Before his political career, Rendon headed a Southern California child development organization, led the California League of Conservation Voters and served as an adjunct professor at his alma mater, California State University, Fullerton.

When he takes over in March, Rendon, 47, will be the first speaker since voters extended term limits, which could keep him in office until 2024. Rendon said Monday that he’s committed to creating a more collaborative working environment, including working with Republicans.

“The role of the speaker in an era when members can serve up to 12 years is to maximize that potential by helping members develop greater expertise, pursue longer-term policy strategies, and perform more vital oversight,” Rendon said in a speech on the floor.

In a break with tradition, Assembly Minority Leader Chad Mayes, R-Yucca Valley, seconded Rendon’s nomination. Since the majority party selects the speaker from among its ranks, the GOP has no real role in the selection.



Mayes acknowledged his move “is contrary to a practice that goes back decades and I’m sure I’ll take some heat for it.”

Mayes also took over his post this month and said he did not want to start a new chapter with “an empty partisan exercise.”

Rendon has prioritized restoring funding for early childhood education programs that were cut during the recession, though Gov. Jerry Brown notably left that out of his budget proposal last week.

“We cut about $1.2 billion out of child care and I think we need to put that money back in,” Rendon told reporters. “We’ve gotten about a quarter of the way to restoring those funds.”

Rendon is a former recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, Riverside.

He will be the fifth Latino to serve as speaker when he takes over from current Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

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