Sen. Jenny Oropeza Passes Away

Anthony Pignataro:

I hate writing stuff like this. I hate calling people to report stories like this. No one wants to talk, and I can’t blame them, because I don’t like it either. But it’s gotta be done.

Senator Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach, passed away today after a long illness at the age of 53. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that her name will remain on the November ballot, and if she wins there will be a special election.

In a statement released today, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called her a “true public servant who positively impacted the lives of all Californians.” She was one of the friendliest faces in the Senate, and her staff always went out of their way to be helpful. She even once mentioned one of my stories in committee testimony she gave. We at CalWatchdog didn’t always (or even often) agree with what she believed or advocated, but we always respected her.

Anyway, her staff is grieving and aren’t putting out a statement on her death. But Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg did, and here it is:


(SACRAMENTO) Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Steinberg) issued the following statement on the death of State Senator Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach):

“It is with great sadness that the Senate has learned of the death of Senator Jenny Oropeza, a true public servant and a cherished part of our legislative family. She carried on her responsibilities through great physical challenge, which is an inspiration for all of us, and for that service we are grateful.

She has been a champion on issues of cancer prevention, monitoring toxins in our environment, and transportation funding and safety.

She played an important leadership role in the senate as the Democratic Caucus Chair and a member of our Senate Rules Committee.

Our hearts go out to her devoted husband Tom, her family, and her dedicated Senate staff.

In the course of this legislative session, the Senate has faced incredible challenges, and more than its share of sadness. Let us take a moment of our time, in remembering Jenny, to reflect on our Capitol family, our friendships, and our importance to each other as colleagues.

Information regarding her memorial services will be forthcoming.”

Photo courtesy Sen. Oropeza’s website —

OCT. 21, 2010

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