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Leilani Yee presented to board as LA Unified’s new chief lobbyist

Mike Szymanski | October 28, 2015

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Leilani Yee is succeeding Edgar Zazueta as chief lobbyist.

At his final appearance before LA Unified’s Committee of the Whole yesterday, chief lobbyist Edgar Zazueta introduced his successor — Leilani Yee.

“I am terribly nervous because I don’t feel like I’m good at public speaking, like Edgar is,” Yee told the board, her first appearance as the heir apparent to the job — the board still has to approve a contract. Zazueta is leaving to join the Association of California School Administrators as director of policy and government relations.

After her presentation, Yee told LA School Report that this wasn’t the first time addressing the board. She said she explained the state budget in the past, among other presentations over the past two years. She said she didn’t mind the tough questions.

“I come as prepared as I can, but I don’t mind telling them ‘I don’t know’ and will get back to them as soon as possible,” Yee said.

Yee, 39, grew up in San Diego and majored in economics at UC Berkeley. She has two children in elementary school, 2nd and 4th grades.

She said Sacramento took “a little time to get adjusted,” from her San Diego roots. But, she adds, “I love my job.”

In Sacramento, she testified more than two dozen times, and has a 59 percent Advocacy Scorecard from Digital Democracy. She said things run generally very well in the Capitol, even moreso now with a Democratic super-majority.

However, Washington is another story, she said. “People are very disgruntled about the gridlock,” she said. “So it can only get better.”

She said the biggest issues facing the district are “finances and being fiscally sound.” She added she will “continue to make sure there is the maximum funding to the district for education.”

And yes, she said, she intends to call Zazueta for advice if she needs it.

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