Capitol Alert

Emotional Betty Yee kicks off day of swearing-in ceremonies

Controller Betty Yee, center, takes photos with supporters after her swearing-in Monday.
Controller Betty Yee, center, takes photos with supporters after her swearing-in Monday. akoseff@sacbee.com

To become California’s new controller, Democrat Betty Yee eked past former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez by fewer than 500 votes in the June primary. In November, she defeated Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, a top Republican recruit.

Yee’s swearing-in Monday morning was one for the underdogs.

“By most accounts, including many of your own, I was not slated to be here,” she told a crowd of supporters at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.

The ceremony, which kicked off a day of inaugurations for the state’s constitutional officers, included three performances by the Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus and a call to watch out for the state’s most vulnerable, including transgender people, foster youth and the elderly. An emotional Yee, who attended with her 91-year-old mother, discussed her rise as the daughter of Chinese-speaking immigrants who worked at her parents’ laundry business in San Francisco.

“Where but here in this Golden State can a kid named Betty Yee grow up to serve as the controller of the eighth-largest economy of the world?” she said, holding back tears.

After former state Sen. Carole Migden administered the oath, Yee said she would use her office to push for more affordable housing, as well as spur innovation in the green energy sector and foster greater government efficiency.

“We need to not lose sight of who we really need to pay attention to make sure there is opportunity for all,” Yee said after the swearing-in.

Yee’s inauguration was the first of nine on Monday, including the start of Gov. Jerry Brown’s historic fourth term.

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.

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