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Toni Atkins To Become First State Assembly Speaker From San Diego

Democratic Assemblywoman Toni Atkins will become the first San Diegan to serve as California Assembly Speaker. Atkins was elected to the Assembly in 2010, after eight years on the San Diego City Council. Atkins began her career as a staff member to former San Diego City Councilwoman Chris Kehoe.

KPBS Morning Edition host Deb Welsh spoke with Atkins about "then and now," and asked if she had any idea she'd end up where she is today.

ATKINS: "Absolutely not, you know I loved working with Chris. Until she said to me, 'You need to run for city council, ‘ I have to be honest, it never crossed my mind."

WELSH: "Do you see your priorities changing in any way in this new role as Assembly Speaker?"

ATKINS: "I do. I feel like I'm going to be better able to extend myself a bit more, and I'm probably going to have to spend time in other parts of the state."

WELSH: "What has been your biggest political challenge so far, and are there others that you might be anticipating?"

ATKINS: "I really am a policy person, I do the political work because I want to be effective at getting policies done that I believe in. I have been somewhat frustrated on being able to get work done around affordable housing in the state: that's a passion that I have, so I don't know if I have political frustrations - probably more policy frustrations. But I think I'm not alone in that."

WELSH: "What's your take on being the first Assembly Speaker from San Diego, and also being the first lesbian to serve in that capacity for California?"

ATKINS: "I am incredibly proud to be the first San Diegan, that means a lot to me. Being the first out-lesbian is important too. It reminds people that we have a diverse California."

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