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Esteemed Central Coast politican Katcho Achadjian dies at 68

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Katcho Achadjian.

The widely-respected former Central Coast politician and community leader Katcho Achadjian died Thursday.

Khatchik 'Katcho' Achadjian was a politician representing the Central Coast community for almost two decades. He was a longtime San Luis Obispo County supervisor, then elected to the California State Assembly.

Born in Lebanon in 1951, he emigrated to the United States when he was 20. He attended Cuesta College and later got a business administration degree from Cal Poly. Achadjian then bought a gas station, and grew a successful business of multiple locations.

He was elected to the 4th district seat on the SLO County board of supervisors, serving as chairman of the board from 2001 to 2006.

In 2010 Achadjian was elected to the California Assembly, representing the 35th and later 33rd District, a seat currently held by Jordan Cunningham, a longtime friend of Katcho.

“You could write a character in a movie that lived the life he lived,” Cunningham told KCBX News Friday. “He grew up with nothing in Lebanon. Born to Armenian parents, he immigrated to the United States with the shirt on his back to go to college when he was a teenager. And from there just dedicated his life to family, and to our community, and to public service.”

Right after Cunningham learned of Katcho’s death, he said he received a massive pouring in of support and praise for the former assemblyman by fellow politicians and legislators .

“When you met Katcho, even if you spent a little time with him...the warmth and compassion he had for other people...he was truly the most nonpartisan person I've ever met, that's ever held a partisan political office, because he really put people first with everything he did,” Cunningham said.”

Arroyo Grande mayor Caren Ray Russom described to KCBX News how Achadjian was a model for public servants on the Central Coast.

“Katcho set the example for us of how to live a life in the public eye, that showed us all how to behave with dignity and humility and grace, and being able to adequately represent all people at all times,” Russom said.

After finishing his time in politics, Achadjian became an advisor to a class at his alma mater, Cal Poly, that taught students how to write a bill.

Russom ordered the city flag of Arroyo Grande to remain at half-staff for the coming week. The city has also created a memorial book for the family of Achadjian. Russom says community members are welcome to share Katcho memories and condolences; the book can be found at the Arroyo Grande city hall. 

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