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Monique Limón Takes Oath of Office for California Assembly

Former school board member represents the 37th District, including portions of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties

With family and friends looking on, Monique Limón of Goleta takes the oath of office Monday to represent the 37th District in the California Assembly. Click to view larger
With family and friends looking on, Monique Limón of Goleta takes the oath of office Monday to represent the 37th District in the California Assembly.  (Krishnia Parker photo courtesy of the Assembly Democratic Caucus)

Monique Limón was sworn in to the California State Assembly on Monday to represent the 37th District, which includes portions of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Limón, 37, said many friends and family members headed to Sacramento to witness the ceremony.

She has been busy since the Nov. 8 election. Results haven’t yet been certified, but she had 63.8 percent of the vote as of Monday.

Limón was invited to Sacramento for a new-member training and caucus meeting the day after the election since she had a significant lead over opponent Edward Fuller.

“It’s all moved very, very fast,” she told Noozhawk.

Except for the caucus meeting, which involves voting for party leadership, all the new member training has included Democrats and Republicans, Limón said.

“The kind of running joke is, well of course we all get along right now,” she said. “We’re all excited and all work together because nobody killed anybody’s bill yet.”

It’s not the same animosity as in Congress, though there is more party influence than local government offices, she said.

“I don’t feel like California is an identical replica of what is happening at the national level.”

After November’s election, Democrats have the supermajority in the State Assembly and State Senate, meaning they have enough votes to approve and sustain virtually any legislation, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Limón plans to go back and forth between Santa Barbara and Sacramento on a weekly basis, with every Monday through Thursday spent in Sacramento for eight months of the year, which is mandatory, she said.

Limón doesn’t yet know which committees she’ll be on, but has an interest in education given her professional background and her six years spent on the Santa Barbara Unified Board of Education.

“I do sometimes describe myself as the accidental politician because my work in the community didn’t start in public office," she said. "It really started with nonprofit boards, investing time to identify community needs and unmet needs, and possible solutions.”

She worked as assistant director of the McNair Scholars Program at UC Santa Barbara, and previously worked as the Graduate Division’s director for diversity recruitment and retention. She also worked as student program advisor for the California Student Opportunity and Access Program at Santa Barbara City College.

She has a master’s in education from Columbia University and a bachelor of arts degree from UC Berkeley, and has served on nonprofit organization boards including Leading from Within and the McCune Foundation.

Limón and her husband, Michael Medel, live in Goleta and were both raised in the Santa Barbara area. She has extended family throughout the district.

“I still see myself as an educator who’s going to have some voice, I’m just one of 80 votes now,” she said.

Limón said she also wants to get involved in issues involving the environment, jobs and economic development, and housing.

“As a new member, I’m excited about the opportunities, there’s the other part that understands some of this … it’ll be harder,” she said. “It’ll be harder to get the votes needed to move forward, and I think sometimes that’s understated.

“Definitely if there are any implications for funding, that’ll be particularly hard for members to do. There are quick fixes on language or protocol, but once there’s a fiscal impact, not every Democrat or Republican gets what they want.”

At a school district event saying goodbye to Limón and three other outgoing board members, Limón said she didn’t want her story to be an anomaly, a SBUSD student from humble beginnings who is now a member of the state Assembly.

“I’m proud of who I am, my background, being a student of the district,” she explained. “I recognize that my story isn’t the norm, and that’s why we work harder, right, so it’s not just by luck.”

She sees herself in a service role in the future, though she’s unsure whether that means a long career in the state Legislature or not.

“The cycle of two-year terms makes it so you really look at what’s immediately in front of you and determine the best pathway,” she said.

She is committing to running for a second term, and expects to start campaigning again in about a year. 

The 37th District includes the cities of Buellton, Solvang, Goleta, Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Ventura, Ojai, Santa Paula, Fillmore and part of Oxnard. 

Das Williams previously represented the district, and was forced out by term limits.

He was elected this June to serve as Santa Barbara County's First District supervisor. 

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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