After submitting her requests before the holiday break, when many of the capitol’s offices were closed and legislators were back home in their individual districts, Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, waited a week to receive not only her first official committee assignments as a Sacramento legislator, but her first committee chairmanship as well.
Smith announced on Thursday that she had been selected to join five assembly subcommittees, although only being sworn in for less than a month ago. And while many had expected her to be placed on a handful of economic and education committees, topics that had been staple talking points during her campaign, Smith’s new Democratic colleagues made the rare decision to offer her a position on the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management.
One of only a few committees in Sacramento to have members from both the state Assembly and Senate, offering committee members resources available to members in both houses, Smith said she plans to make use of the opportunity to help better prepare her constituents and local first responders for everything from wildfires to mudslides to earthquakes.
“There’s so much exposure in the 38th to these types of natural disasters,” said Smith. “So while earthquakes and fires are key, we also need to make sure our first responders have what they need and are taken care of.”
And Smith might have an opportunity to do just that, because her fellow committee members have made the uncommon decision to not only place a freshman Assembly member on an influential joint committee, but they have also named her the presiding committee chairwoman.
Beyond her appointment to a committee and leadership role that will require a steep learning curve, Smith was also given the assignment she was most expected to receive, and the one that she is most familiar with: the Assembly Education Committee.
With previous experience working as both an analyst at the U.S. Department of Education and as an elected official who held a seat on the Newhall School District board for the better part of a decade, Smith said that education policy will be one of her office’s recurring legislative themes over the next two years.
“I know we have great examples of successful education programs here in the 38th District, and it is my hope that I can take those successes and have an impact on state education policy,” said Smith.
And while the 49-year-old UCLA graduate holds a degree in political science and dedicated a large portion of her career to the educational sector, Smith’s colleagues have demonstrated their trust in her economic acumen, as well, asking the freshman assemblywoman to join two different economic committees: Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy, and the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection.
Smith said she had listed the Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy Committee as one of her top three choices when she first arrived in Sacramento, and says the appointment will help her achieve her goal of passing legislation that encourages economic growth, employee training and retraining, and makes sure those policies are all tied together around the district.
Smith has also been assigned to the Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review, the legislative body consisting of five Democrats and two Republicans that works to limit inefficiencies and redundancies within government agencies.
A self-described “incrementalist,” Smith said she has always “stressed the details,” and she’ll feel at right at home working with committee members on both sides of the aisle to streamline public services.
“I appreciate the trust and responsibility that my colleagues have put in me,” said Smith. “(And) while five committees looks like a lot, I look forward to starting session on Jan. 7.”