Jim Keysor, 1972 campaign photo
James B. Keysor Jr., who represented parts of the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys in the state Assembly from 1970 to 1978, has died. He was 86.
The lone Democrat in a family of Republicans, “Jim” was the eldest of five children and namesake of patriarch James “Bud” Keysor, who brought his vinyl record manufacturing plant from Burbank to Saugus in 1957.
Jim Keysor was president of the family company when, in 1970, he unseated the incumbent Republican, one-term Assemblyman and Newhall businessman Henry “Hank” Arklin. Keysor beat Arklin again in a 1972 rematch.
No sooner was Keysor seated in the Assembly than the Sylmar-San Fernando earthquake of Feb. 9, 1971, shook his district, knocking down new freeway bridges and destroying Olive View hospital. Keysor served on a special three-member legislative panel that analyzed the quake effects, and he authored new seismic safety laws that remained on the books until the 1994 Northridge earthquake rendered them obsolete.
Considered a friend to the environment, in 1972 he was one of three lawmakers (out of 120) to receive a 100-percent rating from environmental watchdogs. Roughly half of the bills he carried in his freshman term were signed into law by Republican Gov. Ronald Reagan. In 1976, as chairman of an Assembly subcommittee on elections, it was Keysor’s name on the legislation that established processes to qualify political parties and randomize the order of candidates’ names on ballots.
Born Dec. 10, 1927, in Salt Lake City, Keysor served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Afterward he earned his bachelor’s of science degree from UCLA and performed some graduate work at San Fernando Valley State College (now CSUN).
He married Patricia Williams and had four children: Bill, twins Susan and Karen, and Julie.
As president and CEO of Keysor-Century Records (later Kesyor-Century Corp.), he served as the 1967 president of the Newhall-Saugus-Valencia Chamber of Commerce (a predecessor to the SCV Chamber), and he was an active Rotarian, serving as president of the local club.
He also served on the boards of the Boy Scouts, United Way and Red Cross. He was active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the NAACP, the San Fernando Valley Symphony Association and the CSUN President’s Club.
He died Feb. 13.