Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit died Monday, Dec. 26, his office announced. He was 64 years old.

By Jeff Horseman / Staff Writer
Published: Dec. 26, 2016
Updated: Dec. 27, 2016 – 8:05 p.m.

  • The former state lawmaker was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in November.

Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit died Monday night, Dec .26 at age 64, his office announced.

Benoit, who had been battling pancreatic cancer, “passed away peacefully this evening at his home in Bermuda Dunes,” according to a county news release. His death came one day shy of his 65th birthday, said Michelle DeArmond, Benoit’s chief of staff.

In November 2016, Benoit announced he would be scaling back his workload as supervisor after a CT scan uncovered a growth on his pancreas and spots on his liver and lungs. He later was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer.

Benoit’s current term expires at the end of 2018. By law, Gov. Jerry Brown has the sole authority to appoint Benoit’s successor.

Benoit represented the Fourth District on the county Board of Supervisors. The district of more than 400,000 residents stretches from the Coachella Valley to Blythe and is geographically the largest supervisorial district – almost 5,000 square miles — in Riverside County.

A sizable portion of the district’s population is Latino, making Benoit’s ability to communicate in Spanish an asset. He learned Spanish through immersion programs in Mexico and Costa Rica.

Benoit graduated from Notre Dame High School in Riverside as well as Riverside City College. He also earned a bachelor of science degree in public safety from Cal State Los Angeles and a master’s in public administration from Cal State San Bernardino. He also attended the FBI National Academy.

Before embarking on a political career, Benoit spent 31 years in law enforcement, starting with the Corona Police Department before working for the California Highway Patrol.

He worked patrols in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Bakersfield before settling in the Coachella Valley in 1988 after being promoted to commander of the CHP’s Indio Station. Benoit retired from the CHP in 2001.

Benoit’s first elected office was as a board member of the Desert Sands Unified School District. In 2002, he ran for state Assembly as a Republican and served three terms in that chamber before being elected to the state Senate in 2008.

To read expanded article, click here.