Memorial (2010-Present)


Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez 

SAN FERNANDO – Cindy Montañez, the trailblazing San Fernando politician and environmental advocate who had a local elementary school named in her honor, died October 21, 2023 at the age of 49, city officials announced. Montanez was the youngest person ever elected to the San Fernando City Council in 1999 at age 25, and the youngest woman elected to the California state Legislature at age 28 in 2002. Two years later she chaired the powerful Assembly Rules Committee, becoming the youngest person, first Latina and first Democratic woman to hold that post.

“It is with inconsolable grief and deep sadness that we announce the passing of Councilmember Cindy Montañez, current CEO of TreePeople, and former California State Assembly Member,” San Fernando officials wrote.

” … Cindy will be remembered as a fierce advocate and a champion for environmental justice across California. To her family Cindy will always remain a loving daughter, sister, aunt and great aunt, and will be missed dearly.

Source: “Cindy Montanez, ex-San Fernando councilwoman, assemblymember, dies at 49,” by City News Service San Fernando (10/23/2023)

Assemblywoman Gloria Molina 

LOS ANGELES – Gloria Molina, the daughter of working-class parents and an unapologetic Chicana who transformed the political landscape of Los Angeles, died May 14, 2023 after a three-year battle with cancer. She was 74.

Molina’s political life had been a series of firsts that inspired generations of women and Latinos to seek public office — the first Latina Assembly member in California, the first Latina on the Los Angeles City Council, the first Latina on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.

Through her rise, Molina strode through L.A.’s corridors of power with an outsider’s skepticism and an insider’s know-how. A populist equally informed by the Chicano and feminist movements and the immigrant ethos of her parents, Molina’s battlegrounds were many.

In Sacramento, she confronted politicians who sought to dump prisons and polluters in her Eastside district. On the City Council, she spearheaded efforts to build affordable housing and have street sweepers clean neighborhoods neglected for decades by local officials. As a supervisor, she successfully pushed back against public employee pension spikes and work perks, like a private chef and personal driver for the supervisors.

Fernando Guerra, director for Loyola Marymount’s Center for the Study of Los Angeles, described her as a “perfect convergence” of communities — women, Mexican Americans, the Eastside — long ignored by L.A.’s power brokers, often both white and male.

“Even though she was part of the system,” he said, “she never gave up on the fact that you should never take its word for granted.”

Source: “Gloria Molina, Chicana who blazed paths across L.A. politics, dies,” by Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times (5/14/2023)


Assemblywoman Wilma Chan

ALAMEDA – Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, a passionate activist for civil rights, education and health care who rose to become the first Asian American elected to the board, died tragically on November 3, 2021 after a motorist struck her as she was out walking her dog in Alameda, officials said.

Chan, 72, was hit at about 8 a.m. while crossing the street along the city’s waterfront, at Shore Line Drive and Grand Street — an area popular with pedestrians and bicyclists. Emergency responders found Chan, unresponsive, in the roadway and took her to Highland Hospital, where she died at 2:30 p.m.

Born in Boston to Chinese immigrant parents, Chan attended public schools, then received a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College and a master’s degree in administration and policy analysis from Stanford University, saying in an alumni testimonial that she would always remember watching tapes of civil rights demonstrations in one class and the awed expressions of younger classmates “who had not lived through it, as I did.”

Before launching what would become an illustrious political career, Chan did not envision herself holding office, she said in a biographical video on her website. She was the first Asian American in many seats that she won, including on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, to which she was elected in 1994. She later served in the state Assembly from 2000 to 2006, and was the first Asian American Assembly majority leader.

Alameda Vice Mayor Malia Vella wept on the phone, recalling how she first met Chan as a high school student and kept in touch with her for years.

“As an Asian American woman, we don’t have many people who serve in the capacity that she has served,” Vella said of the supervisor. “I know she has mentored so many people.”

Source: “Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan Struck and Killed by Motorist,” by Rachel Swan, Andres Picon, San Francisco Chronicle (11/4/2021)


Secretary of State March Fong Eu

SAN FRANCISCO California political trailblazer March Fong Eu, who served as the state’s first female secretary of state and later a U.S. ambassador to Micronesia, died at the age of 95. Eu served four terms as a Democratic state assemblywoman representing the Oakland area before becoming California’s chief elections officer in 1975. She held that position until 1994 when President Bill Clinton named her ambassador to the Pacific nation of Micronesia.

“She was a pioneering woman who helped open doors to public service for more women and Asian Americans,” said Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday. “On behalf of all Californians, Anne and I express our deep condolences to March’s family.”

Source: “California political trailblazer March Fong Eu dies at 95” by Janie Har in the Sacramento Bee (12/22/2017)

Senator Lucy Killea

“From her work at the CIA and on Eleanor Roosevelt’s staff at the first United Nations General Assembly in 1946 to her early support of San Diego’s trolley and downtown redevelopment, she forged her own path in a political world largely dominated by men…

Of all the things she lent her drive to, advocating for women was paramount. Killea was one of a handful of women in office in Sacramento when she was first elected, and she deftly navigated the Legislature. And when other women entered office, Killea showed them how to be effective lawmakers in a world dominated by men.”

Source: “Lucy Killea, political trailblazer who was denied Communion for supporting abortion rights, dies at 94” by Lyndsay Winkley and Joshua Stewart in the Los Angeles Times (1/19/2017)


Senator Marian Bergeson

“Marian Bergeson, a longtime education advocate who served Orange County for decades as one of its most prominent politicians and became a trailblazer as the first woman to win seats in both the state Assembly and Senate, died at 90.

Throughout California, Bergeson was known as a trailblazer for female politicians, initiating a wave of women successfully running for public office. Today, nearly four decades after she was first elected to the state Assembly, three of the county’s seven congressional delegates are female, as are two of its five state senators and two of its five county supervisors.”

Source: “Marian Bergeson, pioneering politician, dies at 90” in the Orange County Register (7/6/2016)

Senator Sharon Runner*

“State Sen. Sharon Runner, a longtime legislator who championed a sweeping law that targeted sex offenders and then battled back into political life after failing health, died at 62.

Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) called Runner a “champion for California’s children”, noting that she authored legislation to expand charter schools, help families adopt, and improve the lives of foster kids…

The Runners were instrumental in the drafting and passage of “Jessica’s Law” in 2006, a ballot measure that required sex offenders to be monitored with GPS devices and placed rules on how close they could live to schools and parks where children gather.”


Senator Pat Wiggins

“Former North Coast state Sen. Pat Wiggins died early Thursday after a long illness, and tributes poured in from friends and public officials for the Democrat who overcame a hearing disability during a 14-year career in politics…

Endowed with a keen mind, an engaging nature and a commitment to her principles, Wiggins entered public office in the mid-1990s and became a leader of the local Democratic Party’s liberal faction…

State Sen. Noreen Evans of Santa Rosa, who succeeded Wiggins in both the Assembly and Senate, adjourned the Senate floor session in Wiggins’ memory. “She was not only my former colleague on the Santa Rosa City Council, she was my friend and my hero and really my older sister because everywhere Pat went, I seemed to follow,” Evans said on the Senate floor.”

Source: “Former state Sen. Pat Wiggins dies at 73” in the Press Democrat (8/15/2013)



Assemblymember Barbara Alby

“Former Assemblywoman Barbara Alby, the self-described welfare mom and domestic violence victim who ultimately became a state lawmaker, has died at 66…

She was considered a force in Republican politics and carried a proven record as an advocate for taxpayers and businesses. Each year that she served in the state Assembly, Alby was named “Tax Fighter of the Year” by the National Taxpayer Limitation Committee…

In 1993, she was elected to the California Legislature, representing the Sacramento area. In office, she would author California’s Megan’s Law, as well as the landmark legislation that allows police to make arrests for probable cause in domestic violence.”

Source: “Former Assemblywoman Barbara Alby Dies At 66” on CBS Sacramento (11/9/2012)

Senator Cathie Wright

A cardboard elephant in Cathie Wright’s Sacramento office during her 20 years in the Assembly and state Senate from 1980 to 2000 summed up the Simi Valley Republican’s sense of statecraft: “It’s Better to Be a Stomper, Than a Stompee.”

“I’m tenacious, I’m irascible, I’m a fighter,” Wright, then the only woman among 15 Republicans in the state Senate, told The Times in 1999. “You have to be tough in this business; you can’t just sit back and let them roll over you.”

A right-wing Republican who favored a ban on abortions and despised gun control, Wright was known as a hard-working and incisive lawmaker.

Source: “She spent 20 years in state Legislature” in the Los Angeles Times (4/17/2012)



Senator Teresa Hughes

“Teresa Hughes, a former Democratic state senator and assemblywoman from the Los Angeles area who was best known for her focus on education during her 25 years in the California Legislature, has died. She was 80…

In 1983, she was chairwoman of the Assembly Education Committee when she co-wrote an education bill that set state graduation standards, lengthened the school day and year, raised teacher salaries and standards, and required prospective teachers to pass a basic skills test…

There were 15 women state lawmakers in 1985 when the Joint Rules Committee formally recognized the new bipartisan Caucus of Women Legislators. Hughes, who was the senior woman in the Legislature at the time, was selected to chair the caucus.”

Source: “She spent 20 years in state Legislature” in the Los Angeles Times (4/17/2012)


Senator Jenny Oropeza*

“State Sen. Jenny Oropeza was known for her drive and dedication to public service. The Long Beach Democrat had a slow but steady rise through politics over practically her entire life. While attending Cal State Long Beach, she was twice elected student body president. In her 20s, she was the first Latina appointed to the California State University board.

State and local officials said they were shocked by Oropeza’s death, describing her as “tenacious,” “caring” and a “trailblazer.”

Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, D-Norwalk, who was a Cal State Long Beach student in 1994 when he was an intern working on Oropeza’s school board campaign, also said Oropeza was a mentor who supported his runs for the Artesia City Council and state Assembly. “Jenny taught me what it takes to become a legislator,” he said. “The California State Legislature will never be the same without her.”

Source: “State Sen. Jenny Oropeza dead at 53” in the Long Beach Press-Telegram (10/21/2010)

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