Her devout Christian faith. Her successful sponsorship of an initiative increasing penalties on sex offenders. Her love of emojis.
The late state Sen. Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, was remembered for many things during a tribute on the Senate floor Monday. But none resonated as deeply with her colleagues as the cheerful and caring demeanor that attracted fans on both sides of the political aisle.
“She was a magnet,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, who served with Runner in the California Assembly from 2002 to 2008 before he was elected to Congress. “She brought people together that normally would not get together.”
Senate Republican Leader Jean Fuller of Bakersfield called Runner a “tiny ball of energy and commitment – in a size four dress. She wielded this huge impact on our lives.”
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Runner died last month at the age of 62 from respiratory complications following a double lung transplant. She served six years in the Assembly and two brief stints in the Senate, interrupted by her treatment for the rare autoimmune disease scleroderma.
An emotional Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, thanked Runner for encouraging his pursuit of elected office and credited her as the “most influential and profound” political figure in his life.
“She was very fearless, very strong, but also very compassionate at the same,” he said, choking back tears.