California Senate President Kevin de Leon issued the following statement today on the death of former state Senator Tom Hayden:
“I am deeply saddened by the death of Tom Hayden, a former state Senator and long-time friend. We have lost a strong and passionate voice for social justice, the environment, global peace, and a strong democracy.
“A legislator for 18 years, 10 in the Assembly and eight in the Senate before terming out in 2000, Tom distinguished himself as a paragon of political integrity and a great intellect.
“The Sacramento Bee described Tom as “the conscience of the Senate.” As his final days as a legislator approached he received a tribute on the Senate floor that lasted for hours with praise coming from both sides of the aisle.
“He was a prolific author of more than 20 books, a professor, an organizer, a mentor, and a never-tiring activist for progressive causes.
“His grassroots organization, Campaign for Economic Democracy in California, spearheaded the successful campaigns to shut down the Rancho Seco nuclear power plant, to label cancer-causing products, and to triple the tobacco tax to fund public health and anti-smoking initiatives.
“First elected to the Assembly in 1982, Tom was the quintessential “outsider on the inside.” Republicans tried to oust him from office twice for his anti-war activism.
“Those attempts failed and Tom went on the pass into law more than 100 bills, despite serving 16 of 18 years of his legislative career under Republican governors.
“Tom often introduced legislation well ahead of the curve on issues involving the environment, social justice, gang intervention and urban peace, access to higher education, domestic violence and much more.
“He racked up a list of accolades, recognitions, and awards that goes on and on. The Nation recently named him one of the 50 most important progressives of the 20th Century.
“In an article marking Tom’s 75th birthday, the Nation wrote: “Hayden is often described as a “60s radical.” But while Hayden is a legendary and historic figure, he’s hardly a relic of the past. When he looks back, it is not out of nostalgia for his idealistic youth, but to learn lessons for the present and the future.”
“Tom’s thirst for knowledge and understanding was unquenchable. He never stopped working toward solutions.
“One of his last acts involving the Legislature came during the final days of the 2016 session as SB 32 was stalled in the Assembly and Tom’s health was steadily deteriorating. Tom wrote a moving and convincing letter to a reluctant Assemblyman and convinced him to vote yes!
“Tom Hayden was a maverick, independent, an intellect, a true progressive, a champion for the underdog, and one of a kind.
“In the fall of 2000 as his time in the Legislature was coming to an end, Tom compiled a complete catalog of his legislation into a booklet and titled it “Battles Won, Battles Lost, Battle On!”
“I had the honor of spending time with him last Sunday watching our beloved Dodgers, and it’s a memory I will cherish.
“He was a source of inspiration and guidance for me personally, encouraging me to press forward with my public coal divestment measure, Senate Bill 185, and a steady ally in support of California’s climate leadership.
“Tom battled on until his death. I will miss him as will countless others. He will never be forgotten.
“My sincerest condolences to his wife, Barbara, and sons Troy Garity and Liam, stepdaughter Vanessa Vadim, his sister Mary Hayden Frey and his many loved ones and friends.”