Women’s History Month Spotlight: Rebecca Bauer Kahan

  • Mar 31, 2019
  • Rebecca Bauer Kahan, Emerge California '18

They said I’d never win – that I didn’t have a chance. My gut told me differently. I spent over a year running for office, and now I am here, an Assemblywoman for the 16th District in California. It is the honor of a lifetime to serve my community and fight for our values. I have not wasted any time getting to work for California and my constituents. In my first weeks in office, I was appointed to the Assembly’s leadership team as Assistant Speaker pro Tempore and assigned to several exciting committees that will help me craft policy for a better California and deliver for the 16th District. While I have been here only two months and I am already running the floor of the Assembly. Like I said, no time wasted!

I am focused on legislation important to my community, including improving transportation options, protecting our environment and adequately funding our public schools. Additionally, I am working on bills to help protect California’s values against the attacks coming from Washington. That includes creating and serving as the Chair of the Assembly’s Select Committee on Women’s Reproductive Health and fighting to preserve a women’s right to choose. I’ve also introduced several bills that defend our environment and combat climate change, and I am a champion for the issue of gun violence prevention. I had the honor of standing shoulder to shoulder with other members of Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense America this month to ensure that California continues to lead the way in protecting our children and our communities.

While it’s an incredible amount of work to serve in the Assembly, I’ve got to tell you – it’s also a lot of fun. It is so rewarding to be among the incredible women legislators that have taken their seats on the floor of the Senate and the Assembly. We are diverse in ethnicity, age and experience. We are engineers, lawyers, businesswomen, mothers and more. While we now have a near record-high number of women serving in the Assembly (with 23 Assemblywomen, the most in over a decade) and we are doing better than most state legislatures, we still make up just 29% of the legislative body. That is not nearly enough, and we need to work to pull women up behind us so that this legislature is as diverse as our great state. But take it from me – the woman who wasn’t supposed to win – YOU, yes you, need to run, because only then can we win. I am proud to be the first Emerge California alumnus elected to the State Legislature and being here has furthered my resolve that we must work to elect more.

It is all of the women that I have met along the way who give their lives to make our communities stronger that inspire me every day. My mother, who started as a teacher and ended her career as a community volunteer because she so fiercely believed in making our community better for every student and child. San Francisco Mayor London Breed, an Emerge sister who used her life experience growing up in the projects of San Francisco to inspire her work in the community and determination to make the city better for everyone. And my District Attorney, Diana Becton, who decided again retiring and ran for office to provide justice and safety in our community. I am also encouraged by all of you, who work with your school boards, city councils, non-profits and others to create strong, inclusive, equitable and just communities.

Emerge gave me the tools and the sisterhood to win this seat. I learned to be my authentic self – the person my constituents trust and know will vote our values. Emerge taught me there is no such thing as “waiting my turn,” but to take the chance to give my district the representation it deserves in the Assembly. And it gave me this sisterhood. We lifted each other up, gave each other advice and were each other’s rocks every day of the campaign, especially on the hardest ones. Today, many of us have taken our seats at the table and others are running to take theirs. Expect us because we are running, we are winning, and we are leading our way to a better California.

I will forever be grateful to Emerge for the training and strong community it gives me and other Democratic women, to enable us to serve. See you on the campaign trail!