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It’s been a rough go for the Capitol community in recent weeks. California’s extended political family has suffered more than a few losses — from George Runner’s chief of staff Will Smith to Senate Education consultant Melinda Melendez to Democratic strategist Bill Cavala. We were dealt another blow this week when Charmette Bonpua, chief of staff to Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson, died in Las Vegas after suffering an aneurysm. She was 44-years-old. Before leaving Sacramento to follow Wesson to Los Angeles, Bonpua was a Capitol fixture. She worked in the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee under Valerie Brown, and joined Wesson as his chief of staff. When Wesson became speaker, Bonpua followed. And when Wesson was elected to the Los Angeles City Council, Bonpua again went with. Wesson told the Capitol Morning Report that Bonpua “gave up her life .. to run my shop.” After hearing the news, Wesson staffer Andrew Westall dropped his bid for state Assembly saying Bonpua’s death had affected him deeply. Born in the Philippines, Bonpua and her family moved to Stockton in 1981. She graduated from UC Santa Barbara and received a masters from Columbia University before coming back to California and eventually landing in the Capitol. Funeral services are expected to be held in Sacramento next week.


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