Sen. Lena Gonzalez Becomes First Latina to Be Appointed Chair of the California State Senate Transportation Committee in Over 50 years

December 15, 2020

Sacramento, Calif. – On Monday December 14th, 2020 Senator Lena A. Gonzalez (D- Long Beach) was appointed Chair of the California State Senate Transportation Committee by Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), becoming the first Latina in over 50 years to be appointed to this role in the California Senate. The Committee is comprised of 17 members and has jurisdiction over the California High-Speed Rail Authority, California Highway Patrol, California Transportation Commission, Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Transportation (Caltrans), driver’s licenses, freight, regional transportation agencies, transit authorities, intercity rail, mobile sources of air pollution, fuels, rules of the road, state highways, local streets and roads, vehicles, aircraft, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and vessels.

In addition to being the first Latina appointed to serve in this seat in over 50 years, Senator Gonzalez is also the only woman to serve in 20 years since Senator Betty Karnette (D-Long Beach) who served from 1999 to 2000. Congressman Alan Lowenthal (then Senator) also served as Chair for the committee from 2006 – 2008. Now, Senator Gonzalez continues Long Beach’s strong history of leadership and involvement in the transportation sector with a keen interest in promoting public health, workforce development, economic vitality, and environmental change for Californians.

“I am honored and grateful that Senate President pro Tempore Atkins has appointed me as the new Chair of the Transportation Committee,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “Transportation touches the lives of all Californians in one way or another. It’s the way we get to work, or school and it’s the way we move goods all across the country. As the daughter of a truck driver and lifetime Long Beach resident, I know transportation is at the heart of our economy and I also know, it has its challenges. During my time in this Chairmanship, I will support the economic success of the transportation sector in California and place strong emphasis on environmental safeguards to protect the health and quality of life for all residents impacted by transportation. Both matters are a top priority for me, and they are not mutually exclusive.”

Senator Gonzalez’s district is home to the I-710 corridor, a major interstate freeway that connects the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to the rest of the country for the transportation of goods. There is great concern over health risks related to high levels of diesel particulate emissions, traffic congestion, and high truck volumes all of which contribute to worsening air quality and traffic along the corridor.

“For a long time, air pollution has burdened many families that live near the I-710 freeway in my district,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “Many of them are low-income communities of color and vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant women, seniors and those with respiratory illnesses who are disproportionately and increasingly likely to suffer from chronic diseases like asthma, heart disease, and lung cancer. This is not ok, and as Chair of the Transportation committee, I will do everything in my power to address this injustice.”

As the new session sets into motion, Senator Gonzalez looks forward to a productive year.

“I take great pride in being entrusted with this responsibility and look forward to collaborating with all committee members to make meaningful advancements in transportation policy,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach).

Here is the updated list of Senator Lena Gonzalez’s Committee assignments:

Transportation (Chair)
Special Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response
Energy, Utilities and Communications
Environmental Quality