Nearly a third of the 2015-2016 California Legislature are first-term members. In this occasional series, The Bee introduces you to Sacramento’s newest lawmakers.
As a high school civics teacher, Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell never took his students to Sacramento – they instead visited his City Hall stomping grounds when he was on the Long Beach City Council.
But he did try to impart a sense of the dynamics that guide politics, whether in cities or in state capitals.
“I think I always gave my students a realistic perspective in that things can change on a dime in politics,” O’Donnell said, “and that they do up here.”
When Assembly leadership doled out committee assignments earlier this year, O’Donnell was one of a few freshman members to be awarded a chairmanship. His role atop the Assembly Education Committee reflects decades immersed in schools.
The son of a school administrator and a high school teacher, O’Donnell spent 14 years teaching middle school and another seven in high school classrooms, covering subjects that included social studies, language arts, government, economics and geography.
“I figured I was always going to end up in the classroom at one point in my life, and that I did,” O’Donnell said. “I ran for state Assembly to bring my classroom experience with me.”
Call Jeremy B. White, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5543.
ASSEMBLYMAN PATRICK O’DONNELL
Residence: Long Beach
Education: Bachelor’s degree in history, CSU Long Beach. Master’s of Arts, public administration, CSU Long Beach
Career: Teacher, Oak Middle School, Los Alamitos Middle School, Paramount High School. Long Beach City Council, 2004-2014
Assembly committees: Education (chair); Budget; Judiciary; Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security; Transportation