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Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez was elected unanimously today to lead the lower house for the coming two-year session.

The Los Angeles Democrat, who took the helm in February, will take the gavel for a second term when members of the 80-member Assembly are sworn in Dec. 6.

Pérez increased his 50-member caucus by two more seats in Tuesday's election, capturing the Sacramento-area seat formerly held by termed-out Republican Assemblyman Roger Niello of Fair Oaks and a Central Valley seat being vacated by Independent Assemblyman Juan Arambula, who voted Democratic on most issues.

San Mateo Assemblyman Jerry Hill, chairman of the Assembly Democratic Caucus, said that Perez has "focused the Assembly on the economy and jobs, and he fought hard for the values we share during the long and difficult budget negotiations."

"His current effort to prevent a crisis for thousands of working families who could lose their child care is the latest example of why we want his strong leadership to continue," Hill said.

Pérez, thanking his colleagues for his re-election, said it is a "humbling privilege" to serve as their leader.

"There is still a lot to do and I look forward to working with all my colleagues -- and a new Democratic governor -- on our key goals: creating jobs and helping California families and businesses who have been hurt by the recession," he said in a written statement.


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