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Statement of California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton on the Career of Legislator and Activist Tom Hayden

Tom Hayden, who died last night, was truly an icon. As a leader of the anti-war and social justice movement he was a saint of long shots and hard cases. I should know: Tom was the first person in the California Senate to encourage me to run for President pro Tempore.

For all the headlines that Tom earned over the years, two of his legislative accomplishments stand out to me as examples of his lifelong dedication to California youth. Tom passed a bill to appropriate $250,000 to buy tattoo removal machines for juvenile offenders in state custody so they could leave their gang ties behind. He also created the ScholarShare program that lets parents finance their children’s college education through tax free accounts. These bills didn’t get a lot of attention at the time, but they have had a far-reaching impact on young people’s futures.

Tom’s career in the California Democratic Party as a student activist, legislator, and Democratic National Committee member is reflected in our state party platform and in the generations of young people he inspired to work inside the political process for liberal causes.

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