Alameda Resident Officially Sworn as California’s Attorney General

State of California   Rob Bonta’s family looks on as Gov. Gavin Newsom (left) administers the oath of office to Bonta, making him the the state’s 34th Attorney General.
State of California

Alameda Resident Officially Sworn as California’s Attorney General

Dennis Evanosky

Last Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom swore in Assemblymember and Alameda resident Rob Bonta as California’s 34th Attorney General. Bonta became the first Filipino American in the state’s history to act as Attorney General.

Newsom called on Bonta to fill the position that Xavier Becerra left to serve in Pres. Joseph Biden’s Cabinet as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Bonta, 48, was born in Quezon City, Philippines. He grew up in a trailer in La Paz, Calif., in the Tehachapi Mountains outside Bakersfield. His parents served at the headquarters for the United Farm Workers movement there.

After studying at Yale Law School, Bonta followed his parent's’ lead, working pro bono to help protect vulnerable Californians from exploitation and racial profiling.

“Rob has been at the forefront of courageous fights for racial, economic and environmental justice from day one,” Newsom said at Bonta’s swearing-in.

“I became a lawyer because I saw the law as the best way to make a positive difference for the most people, and it would be an honor of a lifetime to serve as the attorney for the people of this great state,” Bonta said when he learned that Newsom had chosen him to fill Becerra’s position.

Bonta served nine years as a Deputy City Attorney in San Francisco before winning a seat on City Council here. In 2012, Bonta became the first Filipino American in California history to win election to the Legislature, representing the cities of Oakland and Alameda in Assembly District 18.

At his swearing in Bonta said that he regarded his new role as that of the “People’s Attorney.”

“I won’t back down when I see Californians hurt,” he said. “Together, we will get justice for families cheated by multi-national corporations. We will defend communities ravaged by big polluters. We will work to repair our justice system, and we will attack the forces of hate and White supremacy. I’m excited to get to work!”

Bonta has already proven himself. During his tenure in the Assembly, he authored legislation that made California the first in the nation to ban for-profit prisons and immigration detention centers.

He also authored the California law to automatically expunge and modify criminal records for people convicted of minor marijuana charges. He also led the fight to pass statewide protections for renters. This resulted in California having the strongest protections against wrongful evictions.

Bonta’s new role as Attorney General leaves his seat in the Assembly vacant. His wife, Mia, and Councilmember Malia Vella have announced their intentions of running for that seat. The state has not yet set a date for that election.

The Attorney General position is an elected, not an appointed one. If Bonta wants to keep his job, he will have to run for election next November. He has already announced his intention to do so.