Assemblymember Gail Pellerin this week was appointed Chair of the Assembly Elections Committee by Speaker Robert Rivas.
Pellerin, who represents the 28th Assembly District which includes Morgan Hill, served as the chief elections official in Santa Cruz County from 1993 until her retirement in 2020. As County Clerk, Pellerin managed all local elections and served as the Commissioner of Civil Marriage.
In June 2018, Pellerin was elected to her fourth term as Santa Cruz County Clerk, and served as President of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials from 2010-2012.
She has also served as co-chair of the Secretary of State’s Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee, according to Pellerin’s office.
In a statement, Pellerin said it is an “honor” to be appointed chair of the Assembly Elections Committee.
“I’m honored to have the confidence of the speaker and continue to work to ensure that California is the gold standard for secure, accurate, transparent and accessible elections,” Pellerin said. “I look forward to continuing the work to improve the voter experience, ensure voting system integrity and enhance the accuracy of our voter rolls.”
Pellerin added she is grateful for the immediate past chairs of the Elections Committee Assemblymember Isaac G. Bryan for his work to prevent the disenfranchisement of incarcerated people; and Assemblymember Marc Berman, who led the committee to pass reform that made vote-by-mail permanent.
Pellerin was elected to the 28th Assembly District in the June 2022 election.
Rivas, a Hollister resident who represents the 29th District that encompasses San Benito County and portions of South Santa Clara County, was sworn in June 30 as the speaker of the California Assembly.
The ascension of the Hollister Democrat—who represents the 29th Assembly District—to lead the lower chamber of the Legislature brings to a definitive close (for now) a dramatic power struggle that bitterly divided the majority caucus of the Assembly last summer and fall.
Internal changes that shake up how the state Capitol operates, such as rewarding close allies with powerful leadership roles and committee posts, are likely coming in the months ahead. What Rivas’ tenure will mean for the average Californian is less certain.
Rivas has a similar ideological profile to his longtime predecessor—the outgoing Speaker Anthony Rendon, a progressive Democrat from Lakewood—so supporters do not expect a dramatic shift in the priorities of Assembly Democrats.
But they note his promise, as he cobbled together votes last year from a diverse coalition of members, to establish an inclusive decision-making process, which supporters hope will lead to a more coherent and intentional legislative agenda.
Rivas said Pellerin’s experience managing elections was a factor in her appointment as Chair of the Elections Committee.
“I am proud to name Assemblymember Gail Pellerin as Chair of the Assembly Elections Committee,” Rivas said in a statement. “With her 27 years of experience as a County Clerk, Assemblymember Pellerin is well-prepared to improve the accessibility of our elections while ensuring they remain secure and fair.”
This story includes reporting by Alexei Koseff of calmatters.org.