Former Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl. the first openly gay man elected to the council and one of the city's most exuberant boosters, has died at age 70 after a long-running battle with health issues.
Councilman Mike Bonin's office confirmed that Rosendahl died around dawn Wednesday at his home.
Rosendahl was a member of the LA council from 2005 to 2013. He was the first openly gay man elected to the council and also known for several award-winning public affairs shows that vaulted him to the forefront of Los Angeles politics.
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Mayor Eric Garcetti said Rosendahl -- often called the "conscience of the City Council" -- was an outspoken advocate of the underdog, despite the fact he represented portions of the city's west side that contain some of the city's most affluent neighborhoods.
"Our city and world lost a great friend and giant of social justice, Bill Rosendahl," Garcetti said. "He had the biggest heart I know and I will miss him deeply."
Rosendahl announced that he had cancer when he was still in office and planned to run for another term until his health deteriorated. His successor, Bonin, said a funeral service is being planned.
"Heaven is alive with more life and energy than ever today, freshly blessed with the exuberant, positive, loving spirit of Bill Rosendahl," Bonin said in a Facebook post.
Congresswoman Janice Hahn, a former member of the council, called Rosendahl a brave man with a passion for life.
"I was heartbroken to learn this morning that my dear friend, former LA City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, has lost his long battle with cancer," Hahn said. "Bill was one of the most selfless and kind-hearted individuals I have ever known. That heart made him an incredible advocate and a beloved champion for the people he represented. He was brave in the face of adversity and had a contagious passion for life."
Before joining the council, Rosendahl was an award-winning producer and moderator of some acclaimed public affairs shows. He hosted the shows Local Talk, Week in Review and Beyond the Beltway, providing a forum for local political issues.
He produced 3,000 programs during his 16 years working in journalism.
Rosendahl was one of eight children born to German immigrant parents in New Jersey. Rosendahl worked for the presidential campaigns of Eugene McCarthy and Robert F. Kennedy and served in the Army from 1969 to 1971, counseling troops returning from battle.
Rosendahl publicly announced that he was gay in 1995 after his longtime partner died as a result of complications from AIDS. Two previous council members, Jackie Goldberg and Joel Wachs, came out after they were elected.
Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean called Rosendahl a "dynamic" part of the LGBT community whose election to the city council represented an "enormous achievement."
"One of the things I always admired about Bill was how dedicated he was to the most marginalized people in our society, including the homeless and especially homeless LGBT kids," Jean said. "Even in his final year of life, Bill provided a room in his own house to a formerly homeless person from Venice Beach.
"I last saw Bill in September at our thank you dinner for the Center's Sustaining Donors. In spite of the cancer, he was as charismatic and optimistic as ever. Bill managed to live his beliefs to the end. He was one-of-a-kind and will be missed."
In July 2012, after collapsing suddenly, Rosendahl was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer of the ureter, a tube that connects the kidney to the bladder. He was told he did not have long to live. He said that for several months, he would suffer from delirium and underwent numerous chemotherapy treatments, which reduced him from a hale 225 pounds to 170.
It was only after his doctor suggested he use marijuana to help him ease the pain and get more sleep that he began to recover. The extra rest helped save his life, Rosendahl said in 2013.
He resumed his City Council duties in September 2012, throwing himself into getting a medical marijuana law passed and becoming the only council member to oppose a plan to expand an LAX runway closer to some of his constituents.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to organizations helping the homeless, Safe Place for Youth, New Directions for Veterans and the Jeff Griffith Youth Center at the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center.