When political consultant and pollster Steve Kinney passed away last week, the world of politics lost a well-known public opinion researcher and strategist and I lost a mentor and a friend.

If you walked into his old office at the Redondo Beach Pier, his walls were lined with pictures of dignitaries, presidents and world leaders. His clients were a who’s who of California politics, including Governor George Deukmejian, Governor Pete Wilson, State Treasurer Matt Fong, and many others.  I was 24 when I first visited his office, still naïve and idealistic, and to me, Steve Kinney was a rock star. Only rock stars could meet that many leaders, much less shake hands with them.

Steve was highly respected because he was always honest and a straight shooter, whether it was good news or bad. He stuck to his morals and never compromised his ethics. In the political world, that is truly a unique set of traits. He was also a man of deep faith and was an active member of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Redondo Beach. And on top of that, he was a much loved friend known for his kindness, high energy, and infectious laughter.

I was one of the lucky ones who went on countless beachside walks on The Strand with Steve to catch up, talk politics, and to ask for advice about my future and career. On our first walk several years ago, I wore a turtleneck and jeans. Anyone who walked with Steve, knows that his “brisk” walks are nothing short of lightning speed and I left our meeting with a bruised ego (from being out “walked” by an older man) and feeling extremely out of shape. For our second walk through until about a month ago, I always made sure to workout the week prior and wear running shoes and workout clothes.

Steve always made time to mentor and offer advice. He got me my first job in politics as a Campaign Manager, and subsequent jobs after that. I am forever indebted to him for his wise words and honest opinion (even when it wasn’t what I wanted to hear). Though looking back on those times, he was always right in the end.

Steve made a deep and lasting impact in our crazy world of California politics.  He has a long and impressive list of accomplishments, yet was one of the most humble people I have ever met. We will miss him dearly and I hope he is drinking nothing but the most delicious glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon in heaven.

A Memorial Service will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 301 Avenue D, Redondo Beach, California. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church or Sterling College, 125 W. Cooper Ave., Sterling, KS 67579