Al Alquist

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Alfred E. Alquist
Member of the California Senate
from the 13th district
In office
Preceded by Edward M. Gaffney
Succeeded by John Vasconcellos
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 24th district
In office
Preceded by John F. McCarthy
Succeeded by John Vasconcellos
Personal details
Born (1908-08-02)August 2, 1908
Memphis, Tennessee
Died March 27, 2006(2006-03-27) (aged 97)
Nationality American
Political party Democratic Party (United States)
Spouse(s) Mai Alquist, Elaine White Alquist
Children Alan

Alfred E. Alquist (August 2, 1908 – March 27, 2006) was a California politician.


Born in Memphis, Tennessee, the son of a Swedish immigrant who worked for the railroads, he was barely a teenager when he started carrying water to railroad work crews. He became a timekeeper, switchman, brakeman and conductor, before serving with the Army Air Forces during World War II. He was a yardmaster for the Southern Pacific Railroad when he and his first wife moved to San Jose, California in 1947.

Alquist was elected to the California State Assembly in 1962, and four years later, the State Senate, where he served for 30 years. A forceful and savvy state legislator, he chaired the powerful Senate Finance Committee for 15 years. He also routinely chaired the two-house conference committee that wrote the final version of the state budget before it went to the Assembly and Senate floors.

He was the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of California in 1970 but was defeated by incumbent Republican Lieutenant Governor Edwin Reinecke.[1]

He was perhaps best known for his co-authorship of the landmark 1974 law, known as the Warren-Alquist Act, which created the California Energy Commission and became a national model. In the legislature, Alquist also helped to establish the Santa Clara County transit system, the state's earthquake safety programs OSHPD and Hospital Facilities Seismic Safety Act, HSSA, and the state Energy Commission. A pragmatic New Deal Democrat, he earned a reputation for helping the poor and representing the interests of labor. When term limits forced him to retire in 1996, he was the Legislature's ranking member.

Alquist died of pneumonia in Sacramento, California. He was 97 years old.[2] A state office building in downtown San Jose, which he had advocated to get built, is named for him. His wife, Elaine Alquist, served in both the State Assembly and State Senate after his death, representing much of the same district her husband did. She held his same senate seat for two terms, from 2004 to 2012.

See also

  • Hal Bernson, Los Angeles City Council member, given the Alfred E. Alquist Award for Achievement in Earthquake Safety in 1997

External links


Political offices
Preceded by
Edward M. Gaffney
California State Assemblyman, 24th District
Succeeded by
John Vasconcellos
Preceded by
John F. McCarthy
California State Senator, 13th District
Succeeded by
John Vasconcellos