After four years in Sacramento, former Assemblymember Anthony Portantino returns to LCF.
By Mary O’KEEFE
The 2012 California Legislature was sworn in on Dec. 3. It was the largest Assembly class since 1966. For those legislators, both incumbents and newly elected, it was an exciting time. For former Assemblymember Anthony Portantino, though, it was bittersweet.
Portantino was elected in 2008. He was termed out of the Assembly this year but decided not to run for another office. Instead he is taking some time off to be with his family and working within the community he has served for so long, first as in his hometown as a City of La Cañada Flintridge councilmember.
He was often described as a maverick while in Sacramento. He didn’t always vote along party lines, which put him at odds at times with his Democratic party. But this non-partisanship is a sense of pride for Portantino. He explained that he came from a place where the political atmosphere was extremely transparent. The office of a city councilmember was one where people were not at all shy in letting their elected officials know that they disagreed on a particular decision. They were equally as vocal in their support. The state Assembly was a little different.
“Sacramento wanted to shield financial information and conduct [some business] behind closed doors,” Portantino said. He took the hometown attitude of transparency to Sacramento and worked toward what he felt his constituents wanted him to focus on.
“I feel tremendously honored for being in the position of [serving this area],” he said. “The foothills are a special place with a great sense of values.”
This past election season, Portantino was able to visit constitutes without the pressure of campaigning. He attended community meetings and local schools.
Throughout his term, Portantino has seen several of his bills become law. In September he authored AB 1527 that outlaws the practice of carrying an unloaded rifle or shotgun in public in incorporated cities. One of the bills he is most proud of is, however, is the Assembly Bill 52, which is designed to enable parents to volunteer, at no cost, to donate cord blood. This donation can help in cancer research and other diseases. The law was signed two years ago. The idea for this bill came from a neighborhood boy in La Cañada who was fighting cancer. Portantino discovered that cord donations help save those diagnosed with cancer and authored the bill.
It is this type of personal attention, from addressing the needs of neighbors to authoring laws that help all of California that Portantino will miss.
“I am going to miss representing those interests,” he said.
Portantino is looking forward to spending time with his family. He and his wife have two daughters. His youngest daughter was only 4 years old when he went to Sacramento. Now he has time to be the “room dad” at her school, which includes a stint as soccer dad – even acting as referee for some games.
“I also get to go back and see my mother,” he added. Portantino is originally from New Jersey.
He is looking at another campaign for office, perhaps in 2016 for state Senate, but for now he is just taking his time catching up with friends, meeting local community members and being a full-time dad.