Former California Assemblyman and San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Katcho Achadjian passed away at the age of 68 after suffering from an unspecified illness.
Achadjian represented the 35th district in the State Assembly, encompassing San Luis Obispo County and part of Santa Barbara County.
Achadjian was born in Jalala, Lebanon to Armenian parents in 1951. His family came to the United States in 1971 and he became a U.S. citizen in 1982.
Achadjian studied at Cuesta College before graduating from Cal Poly with a degree in Business Administration. He went on to purchase a small business that expanded into multiple stores and gas stations throughout San Luis Obispo County. He married his wife Araxie in 1984.
Achadjian’s political career began in 1998 when he won a seat on the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors. He represented District 4 until 2010 when he successfully ran for the State Assembly.
Achadjian’s accomplishments during his time serving in the Assembly include successfully fighting to extend the sunset date of the State’s Nuclear Planning Assessment Special Account until 2025 to continue emergency planning programs for the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, working to pass more stringent blood-alcohol content laws for rideshare drivers working for companies like Uber and Lyft and passing AB 65 to ensure justice for rape victims where the perpetrator lures the victim into sexual activity by impersonating their partner.
During his time in the Assembly, Achadjian received high marks on his voting record from organizations including the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Taxpayers Association and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
Achadjian ran for a 24th District Congressional seat in 2016 but was defeated in the primary.
Achadjian’s friends and supporters took to social media Thursday to express their sadness at the news of his death.
“I will always remember him weeping on the Assembly floor when recalling his family’s experience during the Armenia genocide,” Tweeted Mike Gatto, who served with Achadjian in the California Assembly. “He wore his big heart on his sleeve.”
IBM Program Director Sarah Storelli Tweeted that she was “devastated” by the news.
“He was such a wonderful partner to me and the student government while I served as student body president of Cal Poly,” Storelli wrote. “Thank you Katcho Achadjian for your leadership and devotion to Cal Poly, the SLO Community and beyond. You will be greatly missed.”