Charmette Bonpua, longtime chief of staff to Herb Wesson, passed away Sunday at the age of 44. She died in Las Vegas, a week after suffering an aneurysm during a family trip.
Bonpua was born in the Philippines and immigrated with her family to Stockton in 1981. She earned a political science degree from UC Santa Barbara and a master’s in public administration from Columbia University.
She held a number of jobs in state politics. Early in her career, Bonpua worked for State Treasurer Kathleen Brown. In 1994, she went to work for Asm. Valerie Brown. She also worked for the Legislative Analyst’s Office and the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee before joining Wesson. Bonpua served as his chief of staff when he was Assembly Speaker, and also went with him when he joined the Los Angeles City Council in 2005.
Bonpua was known for her energy; besides her demanding political jobs, she chaired the Asian Pacific Youth Leadership Project. She was not known to be ill prior to last week. She was also known to be generous with her family, paying college tuition for siblings and sending money back to relatives in the Philippines.
“This is a terrible loss, not only for me, but for the people of our council district and in the state Capitol as well,” Wesson said. “ Charmette was a brilliant, loyal and trusted advisor.
From very humble beginnings, she rose to become one of the most powerful staffers in California. When I asked her to come to Los Angeles, she didn’t hesitate. She relished the challenge. We worked together for eleven years, and her leadership made a tremendous difference. She will be greatly missed.”