The Nov. 4 election spelled bad news for Democrats nationally, but in California, they held strong in state-level races, keeping a majority in both houses of the Legislature.
And State Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, will serve as Senate majority leader this session.
State Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, announced Wednesday that he appointed Monning as majority leader.
The role means Monning will serve as the main floor manager for the Democratic party, and as chief assistant to de Leon in politics and strategy.
The appointment also means more muscle for the Central Coast. The last time a local official served in State Senate leadership was when former state Sen. Henry Mello served as majority leader; he termed out in 1996, and died at age 80 in 2004.
"A lot got done during that time period," Monning says, "including the establishment of [the Fort Ord Reuse Authority]."
Besides securing locally focused successes—including helping get CSU Monterey Bay located on the former Fort Ord, Mello is also well known for the Mello-Roos Act, which creates a vehicle for funding capital improvements even when property taxes can't be raised.
Besides getting the Central Coast back on the Senate leadership map, Monning says his appointment also helps secure a balance between Northern and Southern California.
De Leon replaced Darrell Steinberg, a Sacramento Democrat who termed out; that flips the top Democrat in the Senate from a NoCal rep to a SoCal rep.
"Having me as majority leader offers some balance, so that witihin our Senate leadership it's not just driven by a Southern California perspective," Monning says.
"I'm very excited and honored to have the confidence of the pro Tem and my colleagues."
As for what Monning has in mind for this session: Along with Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, Monning plans to introduce a death with dignity bill in mid-January.
Committee chairmanships were also announced today, and Monning will chair the ethics committee beginning Jan. 1.