California Assemblywoman drove through wildfire smoke with her newborn so she wouldn't miss out on a vote.
Buffy Wicks serves in the California State Assembly. A Democrat, she represents the 15th Assembly District. However, about a month ago, she also became a new mother for the first time. That means she is currently on maternity leave recovering from giving birth and ensuring she can give her infant the care they need. Unfortunately, when she was denied a "vote by proxy" request despite her circumstances for an important vote on housing legislation, she carried her infant to the vote in the middle of a pandemic. Wicks, now a working mom, risked her baby's life when she shouldn't have had to.
Buffy Wicks, a California Assemblywoman from Oakland, was told that having a newborn wasn’t a good enough excuse to vote by proxy due to Covid-19 concerns.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) September 1, 2020
So she drove from Oakland to Sacramento with her baby to vote on critical eviction legislation.https://t.co/kjj0Mzbikn pic.twitter.com/HjmkieVwDt
The bill that was being voted on would help ease housing problems in California, making it easier for developers to build duplexes in areas zoned for single-family homes. As a strong supporter of the proposed legislation, Assemblywoman Wicks wanted to make sure she got her vote in. Sadly, though she had filed a request to vote by proxy well in time, her request was denied. In California, to qualify to vote by proxy, you must prove that you are "at a higher risk from the Coronavirus." As per the Centers for Disease Control, pregnancy is considered an immuno-compromised state, which should have been enough to warrant approval of her request. Yet, she was denied. So, she "packed up her one-month-old daughter and every baby calming apparatus we own and drove through the wildfire smoke to Sacramento," her husband Peter Ambler explained in a tweet.
"Please, please, please please pass this bill, and I'm gonna go finish feeding my daughter," says Asm. @BuffyWicks as her newborn daughter fusses in her arms and Assembly debate approaches midnight. As @LaurelRosenhall notes, Wicks was denied ability to vote by proxy. pic.twitter.com/ro67zimQ8r— Christine Mai-Duc (@cmaiduc) September 1, 2020
As images of Wicks filing her vote went viral online, some began glorifying her dedication and commitment to her job as well as her constituents. Others, however, pointed out just how much the United States hates working mothers. New moms should not have to feel compelled to return to work immediately, especially in the midst of a public health crisis. Nonetheless, because of how stringently our legislations about work are drafted, Wicks was denied her basic rights. Other working mothers, taking to Twitter, used the moment to share their own experiences as new mothers.
So proud of you, @BuffyWicks. And so angry about this. https://t.co/PwnJfCdt9b— Meena Harris (@meenaharris) September 1, 2020
Thankfully, it turns out that other folks are on the Assemblywoman's side. Even Hillary Clinton shared her support for Wicks. Speaker of the California Assembly Anthony Rendon finally issued an apology about the incident. "I want to make a full apology to Assemblywoman Wicks," he expressed in a statement. "My intention was never to be inconsiderate toward her, her role as a legislator, or her role as a mother. Inclusivity and electing more women into politics are core elements of our democratic values. Nevertheless, I failed to make sure our process took into account the unique needs of our Members. The Assembly needs to do better. I commit to doing better."
California Assemblymember @buffywicks was told that having recently given birth wasn’t sufficient excuse to cast a vote remotely.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 1, 2020
So she brought her newborn daughter to the floor to weigh in on an important housing bill. 💪https://t.co/elofHmIcxl pic.twitter.com/ZQf9F10qKE