News Column

Calif. Lawmaker Pops Question on Assembly Floor (She Said 'Yes')

May 8, 2012

Jim Sanders

Forget bipartisanship.

Scrap a roll call vote.

Assemblyman Luis Alejo pulled an Assembly surprise that cannot be amended, rescinded or reversed by the house Monday when he proposed marriage to his longtime love, Karina Cervantez, during a floor session.

She quickly said yes.

"I can't believe you did that," a smiling Cervantez chided him, playfully, seconds later.

The Watsonville Democrat had invited Cervantez to the Capitol, in part, because the Assembly was presenting awards to Latino leaders from throughout California.

When the ceremony ended, Alejo took the microphone to introduce Cervantez, who is completing a doctoral degree in social psychology at UC Santa Cruz. The couple, together seven years, met while both were working on a school board campaign.

"Members, if I could have your undivided attention for a moment," Alejo began.

He identified the 32-year-old Cervantez, who was sitting next to him, as the love of his life, his best friend, a daughter of migrant farm workers, and the smartest person he knows.

"I want to turn to my girlfriend, Karina Cervantez, on this day, at this moment, at this special hour, and ask her if she would make me the happiest man on Earth by marrying me.

"Karina Cervantez, would you marry me?"

Alejo said he started to get down on his knees, awaiting her reply, but Cervantez began to stand at the same time. The two nearly bumped. "It was definitely not professionally choreographed," Cervantez quipped later.

Within seconds, Alejo grabbed the microphone again to announce that Cervantez had said yes. The chamber erupted in applause.

Assemblyman Bill Monning, D-Carmel, then produced a diamond ring that Alejo had asked him to hide.

Alejo's is the first marriage proposal on the Assembly floor in recent memory, if not the first ever. Democratic Assemblywoman Diane Martinez of Los Angeles was married on the Assembly floor in 1997. But Assembly administrator Jon Waldie, who has worked at the Capitol for more than 30 years, said he cannot remember a marriage proposal.

Alejo, 38, said he had asked Cervantez's parents for her hand Sunday night. The decision was hers to make, they told him.

Cervantez said the couple had talked of marriage in the past, but Monday's proposal came as a "complete surprise." Alejo said he had told only his mother -- Mary Lou Alejo -- his staff, Monning and Cervantez's parents.

"I wanted to make it a special occasion for Karina and something that none of us will ever forget," Alejo said.

The couple, who live together in Watsonville, have not yet set a date for their wedding.



Source: (c) 2012 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)