SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — Patricia Wiggins, a former state lawmaker who represented areas north of San Francisco for more than a decade, died Thursday.
Wiggins, 73, was elected to the Assembly in 1998 and the Senate in 2006 after serving on the Santa Rosa City Council. In her last elected office, the Democrat represented the 2nd Senate District, which included all or parts of Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties.
Family spokesman Matt Reilly, her former chief of staff, said Wiggins died early Thursday.
Her final few years in the Senate were marred by sometimes erratic behavior. She was removed from her major committee assignments in 2010 and was absent much of that final year before retiring because of an undisclosed medical condition.
“She really struggled,” Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said before the Senate adjourned in her memory Thursday. “Even as she ended her term, she was not well.”
Yet Steinberg said Wiggins was “never afraid to tell it like it was, even if it included some salty language.”
Other lawmakers recalled that she overcame physical impairments, including near total deafness.
Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, who succeeded Wiggins, said her mentor mostly read lips to determine what people were saying.
“And the fact that a lot of people didn’t know about this profound disability that she struggled with is amazing to me and just shows the kind of character that she was because she overcame any difficulty, any obstacle in her way because she believed in what she was doing,” Evans said in a statement. “She believed strongly in representing the people who could not speak for themselves.”
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