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Rendon Sworn In As 70th California Assembly Speaker

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Anthony Rendon is sworn in as Assembly Speaker by outgoing Speaker Toni Atkins on Monday, March 7.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California has a new speaker of the state Assembly. Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) took the oath of office Monday in a packed Assembly chamber.

The Los Angeles County Democrat is the 70th person to hold what is arguably California's second most powerful office.

Outgoing Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) swore Rendon in before a packed Assembly chambers, and the standing ovation turned into a rhythmic clap.

So began the first speakership under California’s new term limits law. Rendon won’t be termed out for more than eight years.

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Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia, left, congratulates Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon on his inauguration Monday, March 7. Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

In his speech, Rendon recounted his and his wife’s stories battling poverty – and said neither would be where they are today without government programs.

“We benefitted from its food stamps and its free meal programs,“ Rendon said. “We benefitted from this state’s English-as-a-second-language and its diversity programs. We benefitted from its unemployment assistance, and yes, we benefitted from this state’s affirmative action programs.”

And so, Rendon said, fighting poverty will be one of his three priorities, along with more legislative oversight and increasing voter participation.

Assembly Minority Leader Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) is promising to work with Rendon.

“Speaker Rendon is a self-described liberal. I am a self-described conservative,“ Mayes told reporters after Rendon was sworn in. “But I can tell you he’s a good man with a great heart. You know, I think the end is the same for both of us. It’s the means. And so we’re gonna argue, but I can tell you we’re gonna give each other a hug at the end of the debate.” (0:16)

Both Mayes and Rendon have said they view California’s high poverty rate as one of the state’s biggest challenges.

And, Rendon suggested to reporters Monday that he’s open to a proposal from Mayes that would link welfare grants to educational attainment goals.

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Anthony Rendon is called to take an oath at his inauguration for Assembly Speaker on Monday, March 7. Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio