Former State Sen. Cathie Wright has died. She was 82.
Wright, who represented the Santa Clarita Valley in the California Legislature for 20 years, died Saturday at about 9 a.m. from complications related to dementia.
The conservative Republican lawmaker lived in Simi Valley, where she launched her political career in the 1970s as a member of the City Council.
In her later years, Wright was cared for by her daughter Victoria, who is running for Congress locally under her middle name of Cathie.
“I was at her side,” Wright’s daughter said in a statement, “and it will surprise no one who knew her that, despite her illness, she was lucid at the time and remained fierce and resilient until the end. Her granddaughter – my daughter Marissa – and I will miss her laughter, her wisdom and her strength and spirit.”
“She was an outstanding legislator and tireless crusader for justice, and she was foremost my beloved mother, so I am taking a break from my congressional campaign,” her daughter said.
Wright, born May 18, 1929, in Forge, Penn., was in hospice care for the past couple of weeks, her former district director Michael P. Murphy said Saturday.
Wright was Simi Valley’s mayor when she ran for and won an Assembly seat that was vacated in 1980 when its previous occupant, Bob Cline, mounted an unsuccessful bid for state Senate.
During her time in the Assembly, Wright carried several pieces of legislation that impacted the Santa Clarita Valley, including a bill that added the valley’s four water purveyors to the board of the Castaic Lake Water Agency. The intent was that by bringing the purveyors to the table, they would work together to craft a valley-wide water management plan – something the local water community now does every five years.
Murphy – now the city of Santa Clarita’s intergovernmental relations officer – noted that Wright was an early and ardent supporter of the creation of the city of Santa Clarita, which incorporated in 1987.
“She was one of the first elected officials to really get on board with cityhood,” Murphy said.
In 1992 Wright ascended to the state Senate when former LAPD Chief Ed Davis retired after 12 years in that post. She was reelected in 1996 and term-limited out of office in 2000.
As a senator she was instrumental in bringing funding to College of the Canyons, particularly for a new library and Media & Fine Arts building, which were constructed in the mid-1990s.
In 1994, Wright won the Republican primary race for lieutenant governor but was defeated in the general election by then-Controller Gray Davis, a Democrat who would go on to become governor.
Wright is survived by her daughter Victoria and granddaughter Marissa of Simi Valley.
A public memorial will be held Friday, April 20, at Reardon’s Funeral Home, 2636 Sycamore Drive, Simi Valley, followed by Catholic services at St. Peter of Claver Parish, 5650 Cochran St., Simi Valley. Times have not yet been determined.
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