Friday, October 22, 2010

Latina legislator fought for better environment

LONG BEACH, CA - Known as a fighter and survivor, Senator Jenny Oropeza, D-28th District, has passed away on October 20, 2010.  The Montebello, California born Latina leader had been instrumental in representing Latina interests as an Assembly Member to the more recent State Senator.

Launching her political career as student body president at California State University Long Beach, Oropeza sought and was elected to the Long Beach School District Board 1988.  In 1994, she successfully ran for the Long Beach City Council while also serving on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board.  She was elected to the California State Assembly in 2000 where she chaired the powerful Budget Committee and almost became the first female Democratic Speaker.

In 2006, Oropeza ran for State Senate facing very tough opposition, including the mayor of Los Angeles, who had endorsed her opponent.  After winning by a narrow margin, she was named “Comeback Player of the Year” by Sacramento’s Capitol Weekly.  But nothing had prepared her for the toughest fight she would face, liver cancer.

After months of treatment, rehabilitation and painful recovery, Oropeza defeated the disease. The illness made her more sensitive to environmental issues that cause cancer, thus introducing legislation that curbed such exposures including an anti-smoking law signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a known smoker of cigars.

On Wednesday afternoon Oropeza, who had been suffering from a blood clot in her abdomen, had complained of shortness of breath and was taken to a Long Beach hospital where she died at 9:50 p.m.

Funeral services for Sen. Jenny Oropeza, have been scheduled for Monday, Oct. 25, 2010, beginning at 1 p.m. at Church of Our Fathers, Forest Lawn, 4471 Lincoln Ave., Cypress, 90630. This service will be open to the public.

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