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Former LA City Councilman Tom LaBonge Dies At 67

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Beloved former longtime Los Angeles City Councilor Tom LaBonge has died.

Tom LaBonge
City of Los Angeles Councilmember Thomas LaBonge speaks during a press conference as Delta Air Lines Unveils $229-Million Dollar Enhancement Of LAX Terminal 5 at LAX Airport on June 10, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Delta Air Lines)

LaBonge passed away at the age of 67, CBSLA learned late Thursday night. The cause of death was not confirmed.

LaBonge represented L.A.'s Fourth District from 2001 to 2015. The district includes Koreatown, the Fairfax District, Hollywood and Los Feliz.

During his tenure on the council, he helped expand Griffith Park, oversaw the restoration and expansion of the Griffith Observatory, and helped create the Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Hollywood.

"For over a decade, Tom LaBonge and I worked together, as colleagues and neighboring councilmembers," L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted in a statement late Thursday night. "We often said that while we shared a border, there was no dividing line between us, our work, and our districts. From the revitalization of Hollywood to the preservation of Silver Lake, there was no better friend or partner I ever had. No one knew more Angelenos, no person gave more waking hours to our city, no one was a greater cheerleader for our town than Tom."

"My heart goes out to the family of Tom LaBonge," LAPD Chief Michel Moore tweeted Friday morning. "He was so much more than an elected representative—he was the ultimate goodwill ambassador, public servant, historian for his City of Angels, and an icon. He led w/ his heart & truly loved the men & women of the LAPD. Rest In Peace."

LaBonge was a city employee or councilman for nearly 40 years. He went to work for Councilwoman Peggy Stevenson of the 13th District in 1976, then joined Council President John Ferraro's Fourth Council District office in 1978.

LaBonge was also chief of field operations for then-Mayor Richard Riordan.

On June 30, 2015, his final day on the City Council, his colleagues designated the intersection of Tracy and St. George streets in front of John Marshall High School in Los Feliz as Tom LaBonge Square for his contributions to his alma mater.

LaBonge helped lead the efforts to save the school's Gothic main building, which was slated for demolition after the 1971 Sylmar earthquake.

He later worked with the L.A. Unified School District Board of Education and L.A. County to fund and build the school's Mike Haynes Stadium & Hugh Boyd Field, which are used for football games and track meets.

L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz once called LaBonge his "role model for constituent services."

LaBonge was also a big proponent of preparing for the next big earthquake, long before the push to seismically fortify the city's buildings and infrastructure.

After leaving the City Council because of term limits, LaBonge founded The LaBonge Consulting Group, which he described on his LinkedIn page as "an extension of my ability to create relationships and connect people with the common goal of fortifying the cultural ties of this great city."

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)


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