Alex Padilla

San Fernando Valley resident Alex Padilla formally resigned as California Secretary of State on Monday, Jan. 18., so he could begin his historic appointment to the US Senate.

Padilla — who’s from Pacoima and is a graduate of San Fernando High School — is the first Latino to serve in the Senate from California. He was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to complete the turn of Kamila Harris, who also resigned on Monday. Harris, in November, was the first African American and woman to be elected as Vice President of the United States. She and President Joe Biden were sworn in at the presidential inauguration, on Wednesday, Jan. 20.

“It has been my privilege and honor to serve the people of California as Secretary of State for the past six years,” Sen. Padilla wrote in his resignation letter to Newsom. “I am proud of the transformative work we have accomplished in partnership with you, the Legislature, county election officials, voting rights advocates, and community leaders throughout the state to reduce barriers to participation in the electoral process, increase voter registration and participation, and administer safe and secure elections – even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am humbled and honored by your trust in me to represent California in the United States Senate. I look forward to continuing to serve the great State of California as a United States Senator and to ensuring that the rights and democratic principles we cherish are protected and preserved for all people.”

State law empowers the Governor to fill vacancies to the US Senate and, subject to confirmation by the State Senate and Assembly, the Secretary of State.

Governor Newsom announced his selection of Padilla in December.

 James Schwab, current Chief Deputy Secretary of State, will be Acting Secretary of State in California in accordance with state law. Newsom has appointed Dr. Shirley Weber, a former Assemblymember to finish Padilla’s term. Weber would be the first-ever African American to serve as Secretary of State. 

The Governor formally submitted a letter for Weber’s nomination to Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon on Monday. The Legislature has 90 days to vote on Weber’s confirmation, although it’s not expected to take that long. 

“It is fitting that on the same day we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — a civil rights icon who fought for justice and representation — we also move forward the appointment of California’s first Latino U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and the nomination of Dr. Shirley Weber who will serve as the first-ever African American Secretary of State,” Newsom said on Monday.

“Both will be strong defenders of our democracy during this fragile moment in our nation’s history. These appointments are only possible because of the trailblazing leadership of my dear friend and California’s own Kamala Harris, who will move on from the Senate to make history by becoming the first African American and woman to serve as Vice President of the United States. This is a proud day for California.”