Sen. de León Becomes the First Latino to Lead the Senate in More Than 130 Years

Sacramento, CA
Monday, June 16, 2014

The State Senate voted unanimously today to elect as its new Senate President Pro Tem Senator Kevin de León, a Democrat representing Los Angeles who is well-known as a champion for low-wage workers and their children. The 40-member chamber took a voice vote, electing Sen. Kevin de León to succeed Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento, who will step down on October 15, 2014.

Sen. de León will become only the second Latino to lead the Senate, and the first to do so in more than 130 years. Sen. de León succeeded last year in pushing a bill giving illegal immigrants a way to obtain a driver’s license, after having previously made several attempts that failed in recent years.

Prior to being elected to the California State Assembly in 2006, de León served as an advisor to and community organizer with the CTA- California Teachers Association. In 2010, he represented the 22nd Senate District, which includes Los Angeles and other adjacent eastern communities. His term expires in 2018. While in the legislature, de León focused largely on labor issues and programs mainly benefitting lower-wage workers and their families. His legislation led to the creation of the first state-administered retirement savings program for private-sector workers in 2012.

Growing up as a poor immigrant himself in the San Diego barrio of Logan Heights gave de León personal experience which would later motivate him to champion the cause of providing retirement savings opportunity to more than six million lower-income, private-sector workers who otherwise had no previous access to such retirement plans through their employers. He was the first member of his family to graduate from high school. He would later obtain a degree from Pitzer College in Claremont. His personal background, being raised by a single mother, serves as a living example to youth of all ethnicities that they, too, can succeed at what they put their minds and hearts to. “What’s amazing is that my story is not unique. My story actually is the story of millions of other Californians,” de León declared in his speech after the vote.

Among his many other legislative accomplishments, in 2012 de León worked in conjunction with billionaire Tom Steyer to push forth Proposition 39, which succeeded in closing a corporate tax loophole, utilizing the resulting revenue to fund energy-efficient projects in some of California’s poorest schools.

The LBA salutes President Pro Tem Elect Senator Kevin de León.

“The Latin Business Association congratulates Senator Kevin de León on his election as the new Senate President Pro Tem and leader of the California State Senate. We look forward to continuing to work closely with him in our ongoing commitment of advocating for Latin- and small business opportunity throughout California.”

Ruben Guerra
Chairman & CEO
Latin Business Association

Learn more about California State Senator Kevin de León, representing Senate District 22.