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The Robert J. Lagomarsino Collection State Senate Papers 1961-1974

Biography

Linear Feet: 50
Accession No.: 2/93
Location: Library

It was 1965, when California State Senator Robert Lagomarsino first voted to authorize funds for an advance acquisition site study for a state college. At that time, he also introduced Senate Bill #70, which established a state college for Ventura County. Almost twenty-five years later, Mr. Lagomarsino continued his fight for a Ventura County university at a 1990 CSU site selection meeting. In 1992, Mr. Lagomarsino generously dedicated his papers, furniture, and memorabilia to California State University, Northridge's satellite campus in Ventura, California. The donated collection would later be transferred in 2000 to California State University, Channel Islands, Ventura County's own four year university and the newest campus in the California State University system.

Robert J. Lagomarsino is a native of Ventura County with a long and distinguished career in public service. He was born on September 4, 1926 in Ventura, California and attended Ventura High School. Mr. Lagomarsino served in the United States Navy as a pharmacist mate during World War II. In 1950, he graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara and later, the Santa Clara University School of Law in 1954. In 1958, he was elected to the Ojai City Council and shortly thereafter, served as its mayor at the age of 32. In 1961, Mr. Lagomarsino was elected to the California Senate in a special election to represent the 33rd Senatorial District-Ventura County. In that same year, he was named as one of five outstanding young men in the State by the California Junior Chamber of Commerce.

In Sacramento, Robert Lagomarsino gained a reputation as a hard-working, effective legislator and was re-elected three times (1964, 1966, and 1970), the later years representing the newly formed 24th Senatorial District, comprising Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. In 1967, he was elected Chairman of the Senate Republican Executive Committee and in 1969, he chaired a special Senate subcommittee on campus disorders. At the time of his election to the U.S. Congress, Mr. Lagomarsino was the senior ranking senator from Southern California and a member of the five person Senate Rules Committee, after having served as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Wildlife.

The Senator's principal legislative interests were conservation, law enforcement, and local governmental efficiency. He authored landmark legislation in the fields of pornography, illegal narcotics, natural resources, and juvenile justice. He co-authored measures concerning divorce, education financing, corporation law, smog control, consumer protection, water pollution, and taxes.

Major legislative achievements from this time period include the Garrigus-Lagomarsino Act (1963), which authorized vocational education centers in each county of the State; the California Child Anti-Pornography Act (1969); the Marine Resources Protection Act (1970); the California Wild and Scenic Rivers legislation; the Jury Reform Act (1972); the Consumer Protection Act (1972), which authorized cities to create anti-fraud units; and the Welfare Reform Act (1973).

After serving twelve years in the California Senate, Robert Lagomarsino became the only Republican elected to the United States House of Representatives in March of 1974, in a special election, when his own congressional 19th district representative, Charles Teague, suddenly passed away.

Mr. Lagomarsino compiled a consistent record over his thirty year political career in support of clean air and water, conservation, governmental efficiency, law enforcement, safe transportation of hazardous materials, tax reform, strong military defense, veterans affairs, and was an early leader in preventive efforts of nuclear proliferation.

In 1992, Mr. Lagomarsino lost the congressional election to multimillionaire Michael Huffington. A congressional reapportionment plan which helped Republicans in California by eliminating a Democratic gerrymander, also placed Senator Lagomarsino in an enormously complicated position. Unfortunately, Mr. Lagomarsino ended up in the same district as his Simi Valley colleague, Representative Elton Gallegly.

Senator Lagomarsino, not wishing to split the Republican party, chose to leave his hometown and stay with the Santa Barbara portion of his old district. There, he ran into Huffington, who challenged him in the primary. Despite considerable encouragement by his constituents to become a write-in candidate for the general election, Senator Lagomarsino realized the "inherent obstacles" of finances and ballot technicalities and graciously declined. Huffington went on to serve one term as a member of Congress; losing a 1994 bid for the Senate.

Mr. Lagomarsino has been honored by organizations as diverse as the California and National Wildlife Federation, which named him "Legislative Conservationist of the Year" and the California Peace Officers Association, which bestowed the title of "Legislator of the Year." The Channel Islands National Park Visitors Center even bears his name: "The Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitors' Center."

Robert Lagomarsino continues to play a part in history through abundant community involvement. A devoted member of the American Legion, Elks, Moose, and Rotary Club, he currently serves on the Community Advisory Board of the Channel Island campus of California State University, the Santa Cruz Island Foundation, the Santa Barbara Channel Foundation, and as Chairman of the Advisory Board for Food Share of Ventura.

On a broader and more international scale, Mr. Lagomarsino continues to sharpen his foreign relations skills as the Chairman of the Board of the American Alliance for Tax Equity and Vice Chairman of the American Samoa Economic Advisory Commission. He is also a member of the World Affairs Council of Ventura County and the Santa Barbara Committee on Foreign Relations.

He and his wife Norma, live in Ventura, California with their two yellow Labrador Retrievers, Missy Miller Lowenbrau and Samuel Adams. They have three children and six grandchildren.