Lawmaker Denied Proxy Vote Gets Praise From Working Moms Around the Country

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An East Bay assemblywoman is getting high praise from thousands of working mothers around the country – including Hillary Clinton. 

Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, who just gave birth to a baby girl a month ago, says she wasn’t allowed to vote remotely so she showed up to the state Capitol with her newborn.

“Elly agrees that we absolutely need to pass this bill,” she said.

One-month-old Elouise Wicks-Ambler made California history by being the youngest person to speak, or in this instance cry, before the State Assembly Monday night. 

“The bill came up and I was in the middle of breastfeeding and I thought I had to get to the floor, detached my daughter from me and put a blanket over here to try and protect her,” Wicks said.

The assemblywoman represents North Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and other parts of the East Bay. The mother of two said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon denied her request to vote by proxy, even though she was out on maternity leave. 

On the final day of the session, Wicks said she couldn’t let her vote go to waste – so she drove to Sacramento with little Elly in tow to help her colleagues pass a housing bill. 

“It’s the simplest way we can have density that still adheres to neighborhood character so please, please pass this bill and I’m going to go finish feeding my daughter,” she said. 

The bill failed, but Wicks did accomplish something – she highlighted the tough choices working moms have to make during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We have to do right by our working mothers and fathers in our country and right now we are failing them,” she said.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shared the new mom's story on Twitter, adding a flexed arm emoji at the end.

The Assembly rules say Rendon is in charge of deciding who gets to vote by proxy during the pandemic. Those members must be at higher risk from contracting the virus. NBC Bay Area reached out to Rendon’s spokesperson and did not hear back from him. 

He did issue an apology Tuesday saying in part, "I want to make a full apology to Assemblymember Wicks. My intention was never to be inconsiderate toward her, her role as legislator, or her role as a mother."

“Last night I was the 41st vote on expanding family leave,” Wicks said. “That’s why I needed to be there. Ironically, I cast that green vote holding my newborn in my arms.”

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