New Speaker of the Assembly hopes San Diego will get more attention

Toni Atkins ready to tackle tall tasks

SAN DIEGO - She is the first San Diegan to be named Speaker of the Assembly. Democratic Assemblywoman Toni Atkins was sworn in earlier this month and immediately got to work.

"It puts San Diego on the spotlight," said Atkins, who added that she never imagined reaching that office. "I'm actually more of a no-frills, down-to-earth type person."

In her first sit-down interview since becoming speaker, Atkins said she hoped to lead California towards prosperity.

"The good news for California is that we have turned the corner," she said.

That corner is an improving economy.

There are several hurdles on the horizon and projects. Pundits predict the state is still facing a $70 billion deficit, Gov. Jerry Brown's $68 billion high-speed rail system has not left the station and California is facing a horrid drought.

Atkins supports the bullet train.

"I think the challenge is how do we pay for it? It is expensive," she said. "But it's always the details. It's always how much is it going to cost?"

She added that the state needs to update its water delivery system.

"From the environmental protection, the Delta, certainly how we do storage throughout the state," she said.

Atkins also thinks San Diego will get more attention with her at the Assembly's helm.

"There are things that hopefully we'll get a little better attention," she predicted. "We'll get a little better service."

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