FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- California Senator Laphonza Butler spoke to students at Fresno City College on Friday.
The senator joined dozens of community members, many of them students, for an open house about supporting our youth.
"I think the greatest strength to our democracy is happening in high schools and on college campuses right now," said Butler.
The afternoon event followed a closed-door meeting Butler had with students earlier in the morning, where she discussed reproductive rights, jobs, and the economy.
Butler's Friday trip to the Valley is the first time she's visited Fresno since taking office in October.
Governor Gavin Newsom appointed the 44-year-old Butler after the passing of late Senator Dianne Feinstein last fall.
Butler's appointment made history. She is the country's first openly lesbian Black senator.
But her time in office will be short.
"I'm not going to be in the Senate for a long time, but I am going to be there for a good time," Butler explained.
Just 16 days after being sworn in, she announced she wouldn't seek election for a full term to the seat.
That decision helped tee up what's becoming a contentious race between high-profile California Democrats to serve in the Senate.
U.S. Representatives Adam Schiff, Katie Porter, and Barbara Lee are all running to replace Butler, along with several others.
They'll face off during the March primary, with the top two winners heading to the November general election.
Pressed by Action News, Butler wouldn't throw her support behind one candidate.
"The candidates that are running are -- all three of them -- incredibly strong. And they've got some work to do to earn the trust and votes of Californians, and I look forward to seeing them do that," Butler said.
As California voters get ready to elect her replacement, Butler says she's hard at work in Washington.
Several members of her office told Valley residents how Butler can help them work with federal agencies.
On Friday, the senator also aligned herself closely with labor issues and said she's working on other matters, like immigration.
"We need to make permanent DACA. We need to lower the cost of those renewal applications," said Butler.
After the event was over, Butler spent several minutes posing for photos. She'll hold a similar event with young people in San Francisco on Saturday.