The Capitol community is reacting today to the news that Sen. Jenny Oropeza, died yesterday after a battle with illness. She was 53.
Capitol flags will fly at half staff in her honor, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office said. See a collection of statements and tweets from lawmakers after the jump.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg:
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. ...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.
Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez:
"I was tremendously saddened to learn that Senator Oropeza has passed away. From the time I worked with her on the Long Beach City Council, through our service together in the Legislature, I know she was a leader of conscience and compassion, and was an able and talented representative of her constituents. I know we will all miss her charm and cheerful smile, and my thoughts and prayers are with her family, constituents and staff at this time."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger:
I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Senator Oropeza. She was a true public servant who positively impacted the lives of all Californians. Jenny was a champion for improving public health and her leadership will be missed. As she battled her own health issues, she remained dedicated to her constituents by fighting to improve the environment, transportation, cancer prevention and the lives of veterans.
Senate Republican leader Bob Dutton:
"I was saddened to learn of the passing of my Senate colleague Jenny Oropeza. She was a dedicated public servant who had a distinguished career in representing her constituents in state and local government. I had the pleasure of serving with her on the Senate Rules Committee and had the chance to get to know her personally. On behalf of the Senate Republican Caucus, our thoughts and prayers go out to Senator Oropeza's husband, Tom, family and staff during this difficult time."
Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance:
"My friend and my senator, Jenny Oropeza, was a remarkable individual and champion for children, seniors, the poor, and those without voices in government. Senator Oropeza wrote some of the most progressive laws in the nation in the areas of healthcare, consumer protection, and the environment. She has made the life of so many Californians better through her long and successful history of advocacy and public service. Just three days ago, Senator Oropeza and I wrote a joint Op-Ed in the Daily Breeze regarding protecting homeowners during this foreclosure crisis. Senator Oropeza's legacy is a shining example of all that is good with California."
Sen. Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo:
"It is with great sympathy that I send my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Senator Jenny Oropeza. Californians lost a bold leader, and the Senate lost a highly respected and beloved colleague. Senator Oropeza was a true champion for the people of California, fighting to improve public health, public education, and standing up for victims of domestic violence. She served her district with great passion, and she will be deeply missed by me and her other colleagues in the California State Legislature."
Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado:
I am fortunate to have known Jenny as a great friend and Californian. Her passion for women's issues, education, transportation, and of course, the City of Long Beach, was evidenced by her exemplary contributions and tireless service.
I will forever be humbled and honored to have had Jenny's support during my long confirmation process. She was an honest, and outspoken - and I will never forget her request of me "...just promise me you will make the higher education system more transparent , more accountable, and more accessible....and never forget the voiceless and vulnerable." Jenny, I will honor your memory every day through my own service to California and her residents. May you rest in peace.
Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco:
"Senator Oropeza was a passionate leader who dedicated her life to protecting consumers and the less fortunate, keeping our environment clean, and providing critical health care services for women and children. She was also a fierce defender of civil rights for all. Beyond her advocacy, Jenny was a beautiful person whose buoyant spirit and infectious smile I will greatly miss."
Assemblyman Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia:
"I am deeply saddened by the passing of my friend and mentor, Sen. Jenny Oropeza. Jenny was a true inspiration; she taught me how to talk to and connect with voters. Her mentorship helped me greatly when I first started as a public servant. She was very supportive when I ran for the Artesia City Council and State Assembly. Jenny taught me what it takes to become a legislator. The California State Legislature will never be the same without her. She will be missed."
Service Employees International Union California President Bill A. Lloyd:
"Jenny Oropeza was a champion for working families and a fighter who never forgot that California is stronger when a hard day's work is rewarded with decent pay, when our kids dreams are unlimited, and when our families are healthy. As past chairwoman of the Assembly budget committee during California's last economic crisis, Jenny stood firm to protect the vital safety net services that California's families needed then, and need more than ever now. We will miss her voice in the State Capitol.
Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles
I have known Jenny prior to both being elected to the State Assembly. Her tireless commitment to issues dealing with environmental justice and as a champion for those afflicted with cancer changed the course for the better for millions of Californians. As a member of the Senate and Latino Caucus, Jenny will be sorely missed
U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis
"As an assemblywoman, she battled liver cancer and a tumor -- never letting either undermine the pace or impact of her work. In fact, she went on to chair the Assembly's budget and transportation committees with the composure of a seasoned legislator and the unwavering purposefulness of an advocate for what is right and necessary.
She carried that same commitment and approach to the State Senate, where she served with distinction since 2006. There, she pushed for legislation to curb cancer-causing chemicals and air pollution. She also worked to restore programs that ensure low-income women have access to mammograms and adequate health coverage.
In short, Jenny Oropeza's work improved the lives of people in Long Beach and across the state. And her legacy will endure as a glowing example for all who tackle causes with humility and aplomb.