San Fernando Councilmember and former California State Assembly member Cindy Montañez died on Saturday in her San Fernando home at the age of 49, officials confirmed.
“It is with inconsolable grief and deep sadness that we announce the passing of Councilmember Cindy Montañez, current CEO of TreePeople, and former California State Assembly Member,” San Fernando officials said in a statement.
The cause of death was not released, but Montañez had recently been diagnosed with aggressive and terminal cancer.
Montañez set historical records as a public official including being the youngest person elected to the San Fernando City Council at the age of 25, the youngest woman ever to serve in the state legislature at 28, and Chair of the Assembly Rules Committee at age of 30.
To honor her legacy and commitment to service and education, the Los Angeles Unified Board of Education announced the renaming of a local elementary school. Gridley Street Elementary will become Gridley-Montañez Dual Language Academy in the 2024-2025 school year.
“It is a privilege to recognize Ms. Montañez, and I want to thank the school community for their authentic engagement in this process, for their questions and feedback, and for coming together in creating a name that honors their past and starts a bright new chapter,” said Board Member Kelly Gonez. “It’s incredibly meaningful to recognize such a trailblazing Latina leader who can serve as a source of inspiration for our students.”
As CEO of TreePeople, a Los Angeles-based environmental advocacy organization, Montañez will be remembered as a public servant and an advocate of environmental justice, education, and consumers’ rights across California.
“I’m deeply saddened by the passing of Assemblywoman Montañez,” said L.A. Mayor Karen Bass in a statement. “The Assemblywoman was a relentless trailblazer who led with conviction and a vision of a better Los Angeles for all. I join so many Angelenos in holding memories of the Assemblywoman close. My thoughts are with her friends and family as we mourn the loss of a great Angeleno.”