Our View: Thanks to Samuel Aanestad
Samuel Aanestad was all about Nevada County.
An oral surgeon who served as the vice-chief of surgery at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, Aanestad served as a state assemblyman and senator for over a decade. He was the first person in our community to serve as senator in nearly 100 years. During his years in office he worked toward advancing causes important to our community.
Aanestad died this month at the age of 71. He will be missed.
The service Aanestad performed both under the glare of bright office lights and beneath the Capitol dome in Sacramento left permanent marks on our county. His works are seen in bright smiles across our community and in state funds brought home.
Aanestad worked to improve Nevada County. It’s past time to give him thanks.
As an oral surgeon, he removed wisdom teeth from countless kids. The magic he performed on others corrected crooked teeth.
“Dr. Sam” also helped umpire Little League baseball. Later he announced Nevada Union football games.
As a politician Aanestad served as an assemblyman from 1998 to 2002, switching to the state Senate until 2010.
Aanestad enjoyed sharing stories from the state house. A tall man, Aanestad once recalled standing for a photo with newly elected Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Aanestad claimed the governor, who was shorter than him, used his Terminator voice when commanding him to bend his knees for the picture.
We’ll all be back for more stories like that.
Aanestad made a point of meeting with political players and novices alike. He’d sometimes swing by an election night sleepover for high school government students and talk politics with them.
A former member of the Grass Valley School District’s Board of Trustees, Aanestad understood school finance and classroom issues as few other legislators could. He grew to strongly support equalization of county office of education funding, which ultimately passed. The move sent much needed funding to the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools.
Aanestad had hopes for higher office. In 2010 he ran for lieutenant governor. Two years later he sought a U.S. House of Representatives seat. He lost the 2012 open primary, but later contacted current U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa. He congratulated the congressman and stepped up to support him.
There’s plenty to disagree on in politics and Aanestad is no exception. Many people didn’t like his politics. Aanestad even got into a legal tussle with LaMalfa during the 2012 campaign.
But you’d be hard pressed to argue Aanestad didn’t fight for Nevada County and the constituents of his district. He championed a bill that gives charter schools the ability to apply for advanced state funding payments. He pushed for millions of dollars in new funding for veterans homes. He helped push an extension of Laura’s Law through committee.
Aanestad worked hard for Nevada County. Like his politics or not, Aanestad understood this county and considered its residents when making decisions from his Assembly and state Senate seats.
It was rare for a local to hold those offices, and unlikely we’ll see another take a state house seat for years.
Aanestad deserves recognition for what he accomplished. To a dedicated oral surgeon, assemblyman and state senator, we say “thank you.”
Our View is the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.
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