For the first time in history, a woman has signed a bill in the state of California
Sacramento, California – For the first time in California’s 171-year history, a woman signed a bill into state law.
Govt. Gavin Newsom usually signs for California law, but he left the state Wednesday night to spend family vacations in Central and South America. State law requires Lieutenant Governor Eleni Koonalakis to serve as governor until he returns.
On Thursday morning the legislature passed a bill to extend a law to prevent some tenants from being evicted by the end of June. The bill had to be signed into law on Thursday because the old law was about to expire and several thousand tenants could be evicted from Friday.
It ended as a historic moment for the country’s most populous state, which has a reputation as a progressive powerhouse but has never elected a female governor.
“It simply came to our notice then. And I have that feeling of history, “said Kaunalakis, who signed a separate election bill on Thursday. “Women have been writing laws for many years … but no woman has signed the law.” And it felt like a moment in history that we should recognize as important. “
California has selected lots of women in other offices across the state.
In 1992, voters sent two Democratic women to the U.S. Senate. When Barbara Boxer retired in 2017, Diane Feinstein was still in office and was replaced by Orange Harris, formerly the state’s attorney general and now vice president.
California Women’s Power was featured in President Joe Biden’s recent State of the Union address, while Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat behind him. Pelosi has represented San Francisco in Congress since 1987.
Kaunalakis, a former president of a real estate development company who served as ambassador to Hungary under President Barack Obama, is California’s first female lieutenant governor. He was elected in 2018 and replaced Newsom.
The powers of the State No. 2 executive are limited. He cast a tie-breaking vote in the state Senate and served as regent of the University of California, among other positions. Those in office sometimes use the post to increase name recognition for future statewide campaigns – as Newsm did.
Historically, women have not competed for governorship at the same rate as other offices, according to Jean Sinjdak, associate director at Rutgers University’s Center for American Women in Politics. She said women typically make up about 25% of the nationwide governorship candidates. One of the reasons why only 45 women governors have served in US history.
“People have this kind of unconscious bias, even against women in executive positions when they’re bosses,” said Kim Naldar, a professor of political science at California State University in Sacramento. “When they are members of the legislature, they are members of a party. It works on the positive stereotypes that people have about getting better at cooperating with women. “
California is one of 19 states that have never elected a woman governor That is unlikely to change this year, as Newsom is in favor of re-election. But that could change in 2026 when Newsom can’t run again because of the expiration date.
Four women are now elected to state office in California, while 38 women are in the legislature – both of which are the highest ever. Along with Kaunalakis, Treasurer Fiona Ma, Controller Betty Yeh, Secretary of State Shirley Weber and State Senate President Pro Tempore Tony Atkins could all run for governor in 2026.
Kaunalakis said any woman with a statewide platform should consider running for co-governor herself. But with more than four-and-a-half years left before that election, he was still not ready to run for office.
“I think the important thing is that women get a chance to be elected governors. They think about how we respect each other’s abilities, because there is a lot of pressure on women not to help each other, when in fact we will see a female governor in the future. Women help each other, “said Kaunalakis.
Newsom is scheduled to return to the state on April 12.
“The governor could have changed his plan. But he is very supportive of promoting the people around him, especially those from the under-represented group, “said Kaunalakis.” And I am extremely grateful to him for helping this happen. “
This story has been corrected to correct two misspellings in the last name of Kaunalakis.