California’s incoming Secretary of State, Shirley Weber, said she is “shocked” and “appalled” by audio of a phone call in which President Donald Trump pressured Georgia’s Secretary of State.
Weber, who currently serves in the state Assembly, was nominated by Gov. Gavin Newsom in late December to replace Alex Padilla as Secretary of State. Padilla was tapped to finish out the term of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. The Legislature needs to confirm Weber to the position.
The San Diego Democrat joined CapRadio’s Insight for an interview about Trump’s controversial phone call and to discuss her agenda as California’s top elections official. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
On Trump’s call pushing Georgia’s Secretary of State to overturn vote
All of this kind of veiled conversation was really disheartening to have it come from the highest office in the land where voting is such an important part of this democracy. When that is eroded and when that is destroyed, you really find yourself in a situation like so many other countries around the world where people are intimidated, people are afraid. There are all kinds of things that take place, elections being repeated and repeated in order for someone to get the result they want. That is not what we're about in this country.
The secretary of state in Georgia, he's a Republican and I'm a Democrat, but I was pleased that he remembered his oath of office. I listened to him say, I took an oath to defend the Constitution. And he also said this is not the outcome that he wanted individually but this is the will of the people. And that's the real honor and the responsibility of the secretary of state, to ensure that these elections truly are the will of the people and not the will of the secretary of state, not the will of the governor, not the will of the president, but really the people.
On her priorities as Secretary of State if she’s confirmed
First of all, I was a part of some of the reform that has taken place in terms of the voting. I served on the elections committee. We were very clear about expanding opportunities for people to vote .... We saw it work quite well for Californians and we had seen that in other states and it had increased the participation ... I think all of us should be pleased by that, regardless of the results, that people are expressing themselves and really returning their ballots, going to the polls early, but basically being a part of the process because to not be a part of the process is to allow those who are really active and in the minority to basically run the whole system. So at least it gives everyone an opportunity to participate. So we want to continue to look at that, to see how effective that was and to continue to implement ways in which we can do that.
I also want to make the discussion of civic education and responsibility a part of what we do. And I've been approached by some of our schools because when I hear folks like the president making the kind of comments he makes, it says very clearly that we have to really equip our students and our citizens to understand their civic responsibility, that they need to understand what the democracy is made of. And even when it doesn't agree with what we want it to be, that they understand why it exists, the way it exists and what happens when it begins to fail.
Additionally, we lost a lot of small businesses and the secretary of state actually is in charge of licensing for small businesses. We need to begin to look at what happened during the pandemic, that a lot of small businesses failed because they didn't have the kind of support and resources and the knowledge to make a difference. So we want to make sure that we do that, as well as looking at our nonprofits. A number of nonprofits that are really important in poor communities failed because of the fact that they didn't have the right information, they didn't have the right support.
On the connection between voting and her work with social justice
One of the things that you learn in this whole process of social justice is that, as often people say, the squeaky wheel gets the oil, that those who participate in the process of election and whose votes are looked at generally get the attention of those who are making the laws and the rules and regulations. And too often, [elected officials] see issues of injustice and are afraid to vote for them because they believe that there's a larger force out there that's working against them ... And so they're hesitant to vote for social justice reform because it may be a backlash from those who vote because they don't think the people who fight for social justice as those who are actually participating and voting. So if we increase the rolls of people voting for every level, then it gives it even a greater chance of having the kind of social justice reforms that are so essential that people will look at. … When everyone votes and everyone has a voice and everyone speaks up, then issues of social justice become a whole lot easier to provide for transformation, because people know that those folks who are most affected by injustices are also going to go to polls and vote their interests. And so increasing the number of persons who participate in the process really increases our opportunity to do justice for every community.
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