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Subject: Randall G. Smith; Veteran Lobbyist

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Date Posted: April 01, 2003 2:02:14 EDT

Longtime Orange County lobbyist Randall G. Smith, whose influence extended across two decades of local government, died Sunday night at his home in Yorba Linda. He was 55.

Smith had long been diabetic. The cause of his death was unknown Monday.

"Randy was a big man with an even bigger heart," said Gaddi H. Vasquez, director of the Peace Corps and a former county supervisor. "He was one of the most generous souls I've ever met."

A veteran lobbyist and Republican fund-raiser, Smith was known as much for his vast circle of friends as his success with clients seeking public contracts. He served since 1990 as a member of the Orange County Fair Board.

Called one of the most influential nonelected political figures in Orange County, Smith helped shepherd the $310-million expansion of John Wayne Airport in 1990 and obtained a $260-million contract for Lockheed Martin for computer services and an $80-million contract for Motorola for a countywide emergency communications system.

In 1998, he joined longtime government activist Shirley Grindle of Orange to urge the Board of Supervisors to loosen a ban on gifts so officials didn't have to grope for change to pay for cups of coffee.

"As much as I hate lobbyists, I had a lot of respect for Randy," Grindle said Monday. "He had a basic fairness that overrode the tendencies of the profession."

Former County Supervisor Bruce Nestande was preparing to call Smith today to wish him well on his birthday. The two met in 1966 when Smith was student body president of Santa Ana College and Nestande ran successfully for the state Assembly. Smith later worked as an aide to Rep. John Schmitz.

Smith met his future wife, Jeanne Reinhardt, while working on Nestande's 1980 race for supervisor. "I always thought that was the best part of the campaign," Nestande said.

Smith is survived by his wife, Jeanne Reinhardt Smith; his mother, Margaret Smith; sister Marilyn Kieflich; daughter, Candice, and sons Jeff and Craig. Memorial services are pending.

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