Thursday, October 21, 2010

State Senator Jenny Oropeza Dies At Age 53

The LA Times is reporting State Senator Jenny Oropeza is dead at age 53.

The announcement of Oropeza's death came in an e-mail from Senate President Darrell Steinberg to colleagues Thursday.

Oropeza had been absent from her job for months and missed this month's budget vote. She is on the November ballot for another four-year term. Her name will remain on the ballot and if she is reelected, a special election will be called to fill the vacancy.

"In the course of this legislative session, the Senate has faced incredible challenges, and more than its share of sadness," Steinberg wrote. "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."

In October, the Times reported Oropeza had been diagnosed with a blood clot in her abdomen in May. The Sacramento Bee reported she had battled liver cancer during her time in the Assembly.

According to, Oropeza spokesman Ray Sotero said details were expected to be released later today. He said Oropeza had experienced difficulty breathing for much of Wednesday and died at the hospital after 9 p.m. Wednesday evening.

Oropeza, the chair of the powerful Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee, was elected to the Assembly in 2000 and to the Senate in 2006. Her district stretched from El Segundo to parts of WestLA and included the beach cities of Torrance, Redondo, Hermosa, Manhattan Beach, Playa del Rey, Marina del Rey and Venice.

During her tenure in the Assembly, Oropeza served as chair of the Budget Committee -- a major position as the state approached an unprecedented fiscal crisis.

Before coming to Sacramento, Oropeza was elected the first Latina member of the Long Beach City Council in 1994, and was relected in 1998. In a 2007 special election, Oropeza ran for the 37th Congressional District vacancy created by the death of Juanita Millender-McDonald, but Oropeza lost in the primary to Laura Richardson.

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