Butte County, Calif.—Congressman Doug LaMalfa said it's been a few years since he last spoke to Sam Aanestad, and even though they were opponents in an election, he still has fond memories of him.
"I was surprised and my sincerest condolences go out to Susan and his family there," Lamalfa said..
Sam Aanestad, a long-time Republican state legislator from Grass Valley, was 71-years-old when he passed away on Sunday following a lengthy illness.
Family friend Barry Pruett would not elaborate on what sickness he was battling, but Congressman LaMalfa said he noticed Aanestad wasn't around as often.
"I thought about him and wondered why I didn't see him at more events," he said.
Aanestad was an oral surgeon, but he began a career in public service as a member of the Grass Valley School District Board of Trustees. He was later elected to the state assembly, and then in 2002 elected to state senate for two terms.
"He always fought again to keep the budget in California as limited and on track as possible on spending, he did some good work on the veterans home issues for up in Redding there to try and keep that on track so it actually got built," he said.
In 2012, Aanestad ran unsuccessfully against LaMalfa for congress.
"We had differences, and then obviously we found each other on opposite sides of elections a couple cases where either endorsements or him actually running, " he said.
LaMalfa admits that it did affect their relationship, but not for long.
"Elections cause strains, they do, but it becomes cordial once you've gotten over that shock. There's some hurt feelings after an election but you try to let that go because who wants to keep that forever, right?" he said.
Despite the politics, LaMalfa said his happiest memory with Aanestad was when he invited him over to his farm and together they harvested rice.
"He was just like a kid smiling from ear to ear with a brand new giant hunk of a toy," he said.
Aanestad leaves behind his wife Susan, three adult children, and grandchildren.