32. Erika Contreras
Erika Contreras, the secretary of the state Senate, is perfect for our Top 100 list: Outside the Capitol, she is largely unknown. Inside the Capitol, everyone knows who she is. The secretary of the Senate balances politics and policy, seems to get involved in everything and makes sure the trains run on time. She’s part personnel director, too, a difficult job amid conflicting, prickly personalities. Although a Democrat, the secretary of the Senate is expected to be reasonably even-handed and deft. Contreras, who was born in Mexico and raised in the San Fernando Valley, came to the Senate when Toni Atkins became Senate leader. She spent a decade as chief of staff to Ricardo Lara, former state senator and now insurance commissioner. A newspaper report noted that her family was granted legal residency following the amnesty bill signed by Ronald Reagan in 1986, and Contreras later earned her citizenship.
Updated Aug. 11, 2020