Loni Hancock has spent nearly four decades as a forceful advocate for open government, educational reform, environmental protection, economic development, and social justice. Prior to her election to the California State Senate in 2008, she served three terms in the California State Assembly (14th District). She also was the first woman elected mayor of the City of Berkeley (1986-1994), the Executive Director of the Shalan Foundation, and served in both the Carter and Clinton Administrations.
Senator Hancock currently represents the 9th State Senate District, which includes the cities of Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, El Sobrante, Hercules, Kensington, Oakland, Piedmont, Pinole, Richmond, Rodeo, San Leandro and San Pablo.
Born and raised in New York, Loni Hancock received her BA from Ithaca College in 1963 and her MA from the Wright Institute in 1978. She moved to Berkeley in 1964, where she lives today with her husband, Mayor Tom Bates. Senator Hancock has four children and seven grandchildren.
Senator Hancock has been a leading advocate for investing state resources in rehabilitation programs, job training, and employment because she understands that these and similar programs reduce inmate recidivism. As Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee and the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee #5 on Corrections and Public Safety, Senator Hancock seeks to examine programs at all levels of the criminal justice system and implement sound policies that reduce prison overcrowding while protecting public safety.
Senator Hancock believes that California’s corrections system is an expensive failure and requires a fundamental restructuring. As a start, Senator Hancock is working to bring government closer to the people by allowing local governments to carry out vital law enforcement services in a more effective and efficient manner.
Senator Hancock has introduced legislation to provide case management and evidence-based programming to inmates in their last year of incarceration, and bring transparency and accountability to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the Office of the Inspector General. Previously, she has introduced legislation to improve education programs in state prison and require the CDCR to provide inmates with a CA identification card upon release of incarceration.
Since entering the California State Legislature, Senator Hancock has vigorously championed government reform. In 2009-10, she chaired the Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments Committee. She introduced two major Senate Constitutional Amendments aimed at reducing gridlock and increasing the effectiveness of the California State Legislature: SCA 5 would have replaced the 2/3 vote formerly required to pass a budget with a simple majority vote and SCA 24 would change California’s term limits requirement so experienced legislators are available to solve the difficult problems facing California.
As an Assemblymember, Senator Hancock authored AB 583 – the California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act – which sought to reform campaign financing by providing full public financing for statewide elections. AB 583 establishes a pilot project to make public financing available to candidates for Secretary of State so they can wage competitive campaigns without soliciting money from special interests.
Senator Hancock has sustained a strong commitment to environmental protection throughout her career. As a member of the Berkeley City Council, she successfully worked to preserve the Berkeley Marina from development and protect local wildlife.
While in the Assembly, Senator Hancock served as Chair of the Committee on Natural Resources. In this role, she led efforts to pass historic environmental legislation that would protect open space, expand recycling, and promote healthy city-infill strategies.
Senator Hancock currently serves on the Environmental Quality Committee, which oversees legislation relating to air and water quality, waste management and toxic substances, among other environmental issues.
Senator Hancock has devoted much of her career to developing public policies that support and improve public schools in the East Bay and throughout California.
As head of the Western Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Education during the Clinton Administration, Hancock launched after-school, early reading preparation, college preparedness, and other initiatives. She helped schools in California receive millions of dollars in federal education funding.
As a member of the Assembly and Senate Committees on Education, Senator Hancock fought against tuition increases, elimination of outreach programs, and deep cuts to community college, CSU and UC budgets.
Senator Hancock has authored legislation that greatly expands school-to-career education for California’s high school students. She strongly believes in career academies because they keep young people in school, and better prepares them for college and for real jobs in the new economy. Senator Hancock currently chairs the Select Committee on Workforce Development, School Environment, and Student Wellness.