California Senator Sharon Runner Dies at 62

     SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — Longtime Republican California state Sen. Sharon Runner, who helped author a groundbreaking sexual predator law, died Thursday from respiratory complications.
     Runner, 62, served for a total of seven years in both statehouses between 2002 and 2012, and was reelected to the state Senate in 2015 during a special election.
     The Southern California Republican and her husband, former state Sen. George Runner, are credited with authoring and carrying “Jessica’s Law.” The ballot measure introduced laws barring sex offenders from living near schools and was overwhelmingly passed by voters in 2006.
     Runner previously underwent a double lung transplant in 2012 and has missed much of the current legislative year due to health issues. She said in March that she would not seek reelection this November in the 21st Senate District.
     Lawmakers on Thursday called Runner a “highly respected legislator” and applauded her efforts to protect children and increase their educational opportunities.
     “She committed her life to lifting all children with a quality education by helping found the Desert Christian schools and fought tirelessly for small businesses during her time in the Assembly and Senate,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles, in a statement.
     Gov. Jerry Brown ordered the Capitol flags flown at half-staff and said he was “saddened to learn of the passing of Sen. Sharon Runner who selflessly served her constituents, her community and the state of California.”
     The Runners were the first husband and wife to serve in the state Legislature simultaneously. George Runner is a current member of the California State Board of Equalization.
     Sharon is survived by her husband George, son Micah and daughter-in-law Sandy, daughter Rebekah and son-in-law James, and grandchildren Raider, Hailey, James and Paxton.
     “We are heartbroken to share that Sharon passed away today at the age of 62 following respiratory complications. She died peacefully at home, surrounded by family and friends,” the Runner family said in a statement.

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