Capitol Weekly’s Top 100: Erika Contreras

Erika Contreras. Illustration by Chris Shary

21. Erika Contreras

Erika Contreras is the secretary of the Senate, the non-partisan chief administrator and parliamentarian, responsible for more than 150 Capitol staffers and much of the logistics of the upper house. She has virtually no public profile, but is well known in the Capitol, and is the first Latina to ever hold the office and the first woman to hold the post in a century. Contreras, a UC Santa Barbara graduate, was born in Aguascalientes, Mexico and raised in the San Fernando Valley. She has worked in the Capitol in various staff positions since 2003, including as chief of staff to former state Sen. Ricardo Lara (now insurance commissioner) and was appointed Senate secretary in 2018 via a vote of the membership. She’s involved in politics and policy and her staff serves the Senate Rules Committee, the five-member panel that administers the house. One source in the building described Contreras as “the COO of the Senate” who has modernized the chamber with an eye toward gender equity and diversity…and someone who works hard to keep members from putting their fingers into light sockets.

Updated Aug. 15, 2023

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