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Charmette Bonpua, 44, chief of staff to Councilman Herb Wesson, dies

February 14, 2010 | 10:40 pm

Charmette Bonpua, chief of staff to Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson, died in Las Vegas Sunday morning a week after suffering an aneurysm on a family trip.

Bonpua, 44, was remembered as a trusted aide and skilled government insider who worked to inspire youths to pursue public service.

Wesson and his staff were in shock Sunday over the death of Bonpua, who was not thought to have had any serious health problems, said Edward Johnson, assistant chief deputy for the councilman.

“She was passionate about public service and government service, an inspirational leader,” Johnson said. “We’re going to miss her terribly.”

Bonpua worked behind the scenes as a senior aide for some of the most powerful figures in California government.

She had been chief of staff for Wesson when he was speaker of the California Assembly. Before that, she’d served in the same capacity with Speaker Fabian Nunez.

When voters sent Wesson to the City Council in November, 2005, Bonpua agreed to come south to staff his office.

Wesson traveled to Las Vegas when he learned that Bonpus was stricken, and was too shaken to comment, Johnson said.

Her other posts in government illustrate the depth of her experience. As a staffer for the state legislative analyst, she provided fiscal and policy analysis. She also worked for the California Debt and Investment Advisory Commission, and served as chief consultant for the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization.

Johnson said her passion outside of her job was working with youths. She chaired the board of the Asian Pacific Youth Leadership Project, a nonprofit that stages an annual conference to develop leadership skills.

Bonpua was born and raised in the Philippines and immigrated with her family to California in 1981. She held a bachelor’s degree in political science from UC Santa Barbara and a master’s in public administration from Columbia University in New York City, Johnson said.

She is survived by her parents, her siblings and their children. Arrangements for services are pending.

-- Howard Blume

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