The California State Senate adjourned Friday in memory of former state legislator Wadie Deddeh, who represented San Diego County for more than 25 years and died Tuesday at age 98.
Deddeh, born in Baghdad in 1920, is believed to hold the distinction of being the first Iraqi-American elected official in the U.S.
He served in the Assembly from 1967 to 1983 and in the Senate from 1983 to 1993.
Deddeh ultimately left the state legislature to run in the 1992 primary for the newly created 50th Congressional District, finishing second in the Democratic primary to then-San Diego City Councilman Bob Filner. After leaving state politics, Deddeh taught political science at Southwestern College.
State Sens. Ben Hueso, a San Diego Democrat, and Brian Jones, a Santee Republican, spoke in Deddeh’s honor during the adjournment.
“Sen. Deddeh is a pillar of the San Diego community,” Jones said. “Although he was a Democrat senator, he mentored many Republicans in the San Diego area, myself being one of those. And I was amazed and continuously impressed with his stamina and his sharpness of mind even to the very last few years.”
Deddeh’s time in the legislature is most known for his role in crafting of the 1972 bill that merged the departments of Public Works and Aeronautics to create the state agency that is now the California Department of Transportation.
Deddeh died in his home in Poway. He would have turned 99 Sept. 6. A service is scheduled for Sept. 18 at San Diego’s St. Vincent Catholic Church.
— City News Service
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