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Former Assemblyman Dr. Keith Richman dies of cancer at 56

Obituary: Friends and colleagues remember him as smart, passionate man

Posted: July 31, 2010 8:44 p.m.
Updated: August 1, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

Former California Assemblyman Dr. Keith Richman, who served the Santa Clarita Valley, died Friday night at the age of 56 after more than a yearlong battle with brain cancer.

Richman, elected to the State Assembly in 2000 from the 38th District, served the Santa Clarita Valley until 2006.

The San Fernando Valley physician and resident died at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center with family by his side.
In a statement Saturday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger referred to Richman as a “passionate public servant.” Local community leaders praised Richman as an intelligent, caring man with long-range vision.

“This is a big loss,” said Fred Trueblood, who worked three years as a district representative for Richman. “(Richman) was the smartest elected person I’ve ever known.”

Prior to his career as a Republican politician, Richman worked as a doctor. He also served as the Chairman of the Board of Lakeside HealthCare, Inc.

Richman, who also represented the San Fernando and Simi valleys, advocated for health care reform, and he attempted to qualify a pension-reform initiative for the state ballot. He fought for pension reform during his three terms in the California Assembly.

After he left office, Richman founded the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility, an organization committed to educating the public and lawmakers about state employee retirement benefit issues and fiscally responsible solutions that are fair to employees, employers and taxpayers. He remained a board member until his death.

Trueblood said Richman had a strong ability to reach across political lines with ease.

“He was the type of legislator on both sides of the aisle that we really need in California today,” Trueblood said.

Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, commended Richman as a quick learner who was committed to understanding the needs of the SCV. 

“Personally, I think Keith was one of the smartest people that I’ve ever come across, and not just in his medical field, but in his understanding policy,” Smyth said. “Although he initially was not representing the entire SCV, once the districts changed, he jumped in with both feet and very quickly learned the issues.

“I always appreciated that his door was always open, and not just to (Santa Clarita) City Council, but to all the residents,” he added.

Smyth said he knew Richman for about 10 years. “It was a shock when I learned he had come down with brain cancer,” Smyth said. “Certainly at 56 years old, you don’t expect that.”

Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste said she considered Richman a friend and a colleague.

“He was a good man, a great friend and a true leader,” Weste said. “There’s not many Keith Richmans out there. We wish all God’s blessings and comfort to be with his family at this time.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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