Getting to Know Sacramento’s New Legislators

At the start of each legislative session, the Leadership Group convenes our “Fresh Ideas with New Legislators” event where we host informal “get-to-know-you” sessions with new state legislators. 

This year’s virtual event in early February looked a little different than in years prior, but was nonetheless an exciting two days filled with insightful discussions with Sacramento’s new leaders. SVLG members participated in lively conversations with legislators, posing questions about topics of interest to our members and the Innovation Economy.

Senator Josh Becker, a former member of SVLG, kicked us off with an informational presentation about his legislative priorities and focus for the coming term. He also gave a shout-out to Bay Area leaders like former mayors Ray Mueller of Menlo Park and Margaret Abe-Koga of Mountain View, whom he spoke of fondly and described as political mentors.

We also heard from Assemblymembers Thurston “Smitty” Smith and Laurie Davies, along with Senators Josh Newman, Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, John Laird, and Dave Cortese. They all shared their views on a variety of topics including housing development, COVID-19 recovery, climate change, and business competitiveness. 

Assemblymember Smith spoke to several areas of focus here at the Leadership Group, including bridging the digital divide, increasing access to affordable higher education opportunities, prioritizing workforce development, and making housing more affordable through increased  housing development. These priority areas also came up in conversations with many other freshman legislators, including Senator Ochoa Bogh, who offered a touching call-to-action for streamlining CEQA in order to address issues of housing and homelessness in our state. Assemblymember Valladares also echoed these sentiments, noting that his family has been in Kern County for 100 years and he wants to address the housing issue to ensure that others can stay in California as well.

On the second day of “Fresh Ideas,” we heard from Senator Dave Min and Assemblymembers Steve Bennet, Janet  Nguyen, Chris Ward, Alex Lee, Carlos Villapudua, Suzette Martinez Valladares, and Kelly Sayarto. In speaking to her path to elected office, Assemblymember Nguyen shared her realization that “everything is related to government” and her desire to “be at the table when laws are made for or against someone like me.”

A fun aspect of these meetings was asking each legislator to share interesting facts about their unique district. One of the most interesting answers of the day came from Senator Josh Newman, who shared that Snoop Dogg is from the City of Diamond Bar, California, which is located within his Senate District, SD-29. 

The Leadership Group looks forward to building upon our relationships with this group of freshman legislators to work together to address the most pressing issues in our region and our state. Additionally, we are excited for future opportunities to engage with additional members in the Senate and Assembly during events like our Sacramento Advocacy Day taking place on March 23rd. Expect additional information on this exciting event to hit your inbox shortly!

February 17, 2021