Newly elected state Sen. Mike Morrell, R-Hemet, was sworn in Thursday, assuming his official duties in the upper chamber, where he was welcomed by fellow Republicans following a brief ceremony.
"Based on Mike's history of serving the needs of his constituents while he was in the state Assembly, I have every confidence he will bring this same level of service to his career here in the Senate," said Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar.
"Some say recent events have tarnished the image of the Senate in the eyes of Californians. Sen. Morrell is a man of principle and integrity. The residents of the 23rd Senate District are in great hands," Huff said.
During remarks following his swearing-in at the capitol, Morrell thanked his colleagues for their support, saying he looked forward to "great relationships with senators from throughout the state."
"Now, more than ever, Californians deserve a Senate that works to serve their needs and earns their trust," he said, alluding to recent scandals, including the felony conviction of Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, and the criminal indictments handed down against Democrat senators Ron Calderon of Los Angeles and Leland Yee of San Francisco.
Wright was convicted in January of perjury, fraud and signing a false oath. He's slated to be sentenced in May. Calderon is charged with taking cash bribes totaling $100,000, while Yee, a purported gun control advocate, is accused of federal arms trafficking, wire fraud and public corruption.
Last week, after booting previous motions regarding Calderon and Wright to the Senate Rules Committee for review, Senate Majority Leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, allowed a vote on Huff's proposed resolution seeking to have all three senators suspended, which the Senate approved.
Critics equate the suspensions to paid vacations, since each man will continue to collect his $95,000 annual salary.
According to certified returns from the March 25 special election, Morrell won 63 percent of the votes cast in a five-way race to fill the seat vacated in November by Sen. Bill Emmerson, who said his heart was no longer in the job.
The 23rd Senate District covers large swaths of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, encompassing the cities of Banning, Beaumont, Hemet, Menifee, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, San Bernardino and Wrightwood. A few square miles of Los Angeles County, along state Route 138, are also part of the district, the boundaries of which were redrawn after the 2010 decennial census.
Morrell will be up for re-election in 2016.
– City News Service.