Assemblyman Eric Seastrand, a soft-spoken but impassioned lawmaker from California's central coast, died Wednesday after a lengthy bout with cancer. He was 52.
Seastrand (R-Salinas) died at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital of kidney failure and complications of an infection, according to a spokesman for the Assembly Republican Caucus. He had been battling cancer of the colon for several years.
Republicans and Democrats alike admired the courage the U.S. Army veteran showed as he grew progressively weaker.
At the last session of the Assembly he attended, Seastrand made his way to his desk on crutches. Assemblyman Gil Ferguson (R-Newport Beach) said Seastrand persisted until the end in "good-natured needling" of other GOP lawmakers as a way to mask his pain and to say, "I'm still here, I'm one of you."
Assembly Republican Leader Ross Johnson of La Habra said Seastrand was "a quiet man who impressed everyone with his courage and resiliency."
A graduate of San Jose State University, Seastrand worked as a stockbroker, most recently as vice president for investments at Prudential Bache Securities in Carmel.
He was first elected to the Assembly in 1982 to represent the 29th District, which includes all of San Luis Obispo County and parts of Monterey and Santa Barbara counties. He was reelected three times.
As an assemblyman, Seastrand most often advocated positions in support of the business community, but he opposed offshore oil drilling and supported stricter controls on toxic wastes. He was named the Republican with the most integrity in a recent survey of Capitol insiders by the California Journal.
Seastrand was nominated for reelection on June 5 by Republicans in his district. A spokeswoman for Secretary of State March Fong Eu said the Republican Central Committees in the three counties in the district will choose a replacement for Seastrand as the party's nominee.
The seat will remain vacant until a new Assembly member is elected in November.