Fiona Ma for State Assembly

Ma: "Time has come" for woman speaker

Assemblywoman Fiona Ma's drive to become leader of the lower house has begun much like a traditional political campaign, with a two-page letter to colleagues that pitches her assets and asks for their vote.

Ma's missive is unusual, because jockeying for the speaker's job typically involves more personal appeals, such as private conversations outside the office or over a meal. Her letter lays the groundwork for such meetings.

In her two-page appeal, sent along with a summary of her career highlights, the San Francisco Democrat argues the "time has finally come" for the Assembly to elect a female Democrat as its speaker.

Ma is one of more than a half-dozen candidates to replace Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, who is termed out Dec. 1.

The following is Ma's pitch to colleagues:

"As you know, it has become necessary for the Assembly to elect a new Speaker who will build upon our successes in improving California's quality of life, and that election will occur at the Democratic Caucus meeting on March 11th. I wanted you to know that I will be a candidate for Speaker and to personally ask for your help.

"It is more important than ever that we elect someone with the judgment and experience to hit the ground running from day one. With our current term limit system, it is also crucial that we elect a leader who will be able to serve long enough to bring stability to the house and ensure that the Assembly's concerns are given equal weight to those of the Senate and Administration.

"The three qualities I bring to this campaign are:

** Twelve years of state and local government experience.
** Fiscal experience as a certified public accountant with a master's in business administration.
** The ability to work with diverse groups and reach across the aisle to gain consensus.

"As Assembly majority whip, I have worked with every member of the Assembly to enact legislation important to Californians. In my first year, seven of my eight bills that reached the governor were enacted into law.

"In addition, my Assembly Bill 1108, to protect children from dangerous chemicals, gained worldwide attention as California became the first state in the nation to take a bold step that protects our youngest children. This year, I have worked with a number of members to develop legislative proposals and support priority bills.

"But the institution isn't only about legislative success. It's about how we treat each other, the services we provide to Californians, the recognition of California's diverse communities, and much more.

"Since California was founded, the Assembly has never had a Democratic woman as its speaker, and I believe that time has finally come. Together, we will renew Californians' confidence in the Assembly and forge a path toward a brighter future.

"I will contact your office to arrange a time when we can meet in person to discuss the challenges that face our state and your hopes for the future....

"I look forward to the opportunities in the days and weeks ahead."

In Peace and Friendship,
Fiona Ma
Assembly Majority Whip.