BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Local public servant, political strategist and community activist Al Wagner has died.
He was found dead in his home Monday. The cause of death has not been released.
State Senator Michael Rubio, D - Shafter, issued a statement with the headline "Team Rubio loses Al Wagner: Warrior, Friend, Public Servant."
"Al was truly a God-fearing, honest and loyal friend. He lived his life fully and always in the service of others. Al has been there since Day 1 of Team Rubio's journey, and we will miss him greatly for his never ending contributions to our community and lives. We send our deepest condolences to Al's family, friends and loved ones and join them in celebrating his unending devotion to his faith and everyone who had the great honor of meeting him," the Rubio camp said.
Wagner served as Rubio's deputy director and retired from the legislature earlier this year.
He was the director of evangelism at Valley Baptist Church and was a pastor for the deaf at Columbus Baptist Church before becoming chief of staff for Dean Florez.
Prior to that, he was city manager for his hometown of Wasco and assistant director at Clinica Sierra Vista, as well as a board member for Kern Health Systems.
Retired State Senator Florez, D - Shafter, also issued a statement on the death of his long-time chief of staff.
"The Irish tell the story of a man who arrives at the gates of heaven and asks to be let in St. Peter says, 'Of course, just show us your scars.' The man says, 'I have no scars.' St. Peter says, 'What a pity, was there nothing worth fighting for?"
"Al Wagner had plenty of scars," said Florez, "and his lifelong work in politics was based on the premise that 'lost causes' are the only causes worth fighting for, and we all marveled at these God-given skills he used to fight for what was right, just, and fair. We traveled the world of politics together for many years, and I was honored to have this righteous warrior at my side for the battles that mattered to working people and their families. Al will forever be a Florez family member and left an invaluable heart print on my wife, kids and parents. He will be missed and heaven gained its most talented organizer. RIP."
Wagner would have been 57 this Friday, Oct. 5.