Charmette Bonpua, chief of staff to Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson, (10th District) died in Las Vegas recently, after suffering an aneurysm on a family trip.
Wesson remembered Bonpua, 44 as a trusted aide and skilled government insider, who worked to inspire youth to pursue public service.
The councilman and his staff were in shock over the death of Bonpua, who was not thought to have had any serious health problems, said Edward Johnson, Wesson’s assistant chief deputy.
“She was passionate about public service and government service, and was an inspirational leader,” Johnson said. “We’re going to miss her terribly.”
Besides Wesson, Bonpua worked behind the scenes as a senior aide for some of the most powerful figures in California government.
She was the councilman’s chief of staff, when he served as speaker of the California Assembly. She served in the same capacity with Speaker Fabian Nunez.
Her other posts in government illustrate the depth of her experience. As a staffer for the state legislative analyst office, she provided fiscal and policy analysis. Bonpua also worked for the California Debt and Investment Advisory Commission, and served as chief consultant for the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization.
When voters sent Wesson to the City Council in November 2005, Bonpua agreed to come south to staff his office.
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.
She is survived by her parents, siblings and their children.