A memorial tribute and a separate funeral service are planned for local Assemblyman Mike Gordon next week.
Gordon died early Saturday, June 25th, at his El Segundo home of complications from a brain tumor that was first diagnosed in February. He was 47.
The City of El Segundo will host a community memorial tribute to Gordon — a former El Segundo mayor — at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 6th, in the El Segundo High School Stadium, 640 Main S., El Segundo.
A funeral for Gordon is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday, July 8th, at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills Cemetery, Hall of Liberty Building, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, adjacent to the Ventura Freeway in the Hollywood Hills south of Burbank.
Afterwards, a 5:30 p.m. reception is scheduled at Library Park, 111 Main St., El Segundo.
Gordon was elected to his first term on the state Assembly in November. He was elected to the El Segundo City Council in 1996 and served six years as mayor until he stepped down from the position in April 2004 to run for the Assembly 53rd District seat, which includes portions of Westchester, Playa del Rey, the Marina, the Marina Peninsula, Venice, Villa Marina, Mar Vista and a small portion of West Los Angeles.
El Segundo Mayor Kelly McDowell remembers Gordon as someone who had a significant impact on the people of the community and “built a tremendous legacy of community service.”
“I don’t think anyone has ever given as much to the city as Mike,” said McDowell, who worked with Gordon during Gordon’s two terms on the El Segundo City Council. “I learned more from Mike about politics and government than I have from anyone.
“He was a real mentor and he showed how to do things right.”
After being sworn in as assemblyman in the 53rd District Assembly seat in January, Gordon was hospitalized in late February as a result of feeling ill and exhausted.
Doctors diagnosed Gordon with a brain tumor and Gordon began to receive radiation treatment.
During Gordon’s illness, his staff continued to put forth legislation Gordon supported while Gordon was receiving treatment.
“It’s a huge loss for all of us,” said Janelle Beland, legislative director at Gordon’s Sacramento office.
“We’ll do our best to honor what he was committed to achieving while he was here in the Assembly.”
Gordon grew up in La Mirada and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from California State University, Fullerton, in 1979.
He was involved in Democratic Party politics in the state for 30 years, having begun his political career at the age of 18 registering voters for former Assembly Speaker Leo McCarthy.
In 1982 Gordon became executive director of the California Democratic Party and served until 1985, when he formed his El Segundo-based business, Gordon and Schwenkmeyer, Inc., which evolved into one of the premier research, polling and fundraising firms in the nation.
Fellow elected members of the Democratic Party praised Gordon for his contributions as an elected official.
“In the course of my public career few people have had a more profound impact on me and the policies I pursued than Mike Gordon,” local Congresswoman Jane Harman said.
“He was a rising star in the Democratic Party and had so much more to contribute,” said Art Torres, former state senator and chairman of the California Democratic Party.
During his six years as El Segundo mayor, Gordon worked to increase the city’s financial commitment to the El Segundo Unified School District.
Public safety was a central priority for Gordon as a city councilman, and he actively sought to modernize the tools and resources available to both the police and fire departments of El Segundo.
During Gordon’s eight years on the City Council, he also helped lead efforts to revitalize the city’s downtown, increase funding for parks and recreation programs and promote a wide variety of senior programs.
Jeff Stewart, El Segundo assistant city manager, who will take over as city manager Friday, July 1st, said the downtown revitalization project was a longstanding issue for the city until it was completed in 2003 and that Gordon had spearheaded the effort.
“He saw the project through to completion and it was one of his main legacies,” Stewart said. “Mike was one of the most confident and inspirational elected leaders I ever worked with.”
Gordon was also a central figure in the fight against the proposed expansion of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and formed a coalition of more than 65 municipalities in Southern California to create a regional solution to air travel issues.
McDowell said Gordon helped begin the effort to oppose LAX expansion by trying to enlist the support of other cities and agencies.
Under Gordon’s leadership, El Segundo “made great strides” in the battle against airport expansion, the mayor said.
“No one worked harder than Mike,” McDowell said.
Denny Schneider, Neighborhood Council of Westchester/ Playa del Rey member, worked with Gordon in the fight against LAX expansion, and said the assemblyman “worked tirelessly” to seek the support of various city officials.
“He didn’t concentrate only on the airport, he worked tirelessly to protect the whole South Bay area,” Schneider said.
Another focus for Gordon during his public service career was to ensure that the Los Angeles Air Force Base remained in El Segundo, something which could not have been accomplished without Gordon’s leadership, McDowell said.
In his short time in the Assembly, Gordon introduced 22 legislative measures reflecting the priorities of his district, including education, health care, public safety, veterans and consumer protection.
Among the most recent measures being addressed are a bill that would enable a pilot program for an off-leash dog park on a stretch of Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey and a bill that would prevent the 310 area code from being prematurely split.
Gordon was also heavily involved in the local community, including serving on the boards of the El Segundo Education Foundation, the South Bay and Los Angeles County chapters of the American Heart Association and the El Segundo Kiwanis Club.
Gordon is survived by his wife Denise, and four children, Ryan, 20, Erika, 16, Amanda, 14, and Gordy, 12.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to any of the following charities:
National Brain Tumor Foundation, 22 Battery St., Suite 612, San Francisco 94111-5520, (800) 934-2873.
American Heart Association-Los Angeles Chapter, 816 Figueroa St., Los Angeles 90017, (213) 291-7000.
American Diabetes Association-Los Angeles Chapter, 6300 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 100, Los Angeles 90048, (323) 966-2890.