Scott Kennedy, who served 14 years on the Santa Cruz City Council, including two terms as mayor, died at home Saturday of an apparent heart attack.
Kennedy, 63, served on the city council from 1990-2004. He was mayor in 1993-1994 and again in 2003-2004.
"He was a leading advocate for affordable housing and for city funding for meeting human needs," said Vice Mayor Don Lane, who was shocked over the news. Friday Lane had made a date for lunch with Kennedy for next week.
Kennedy was a rare local politician who was also heralded on the international scene – not without controversy.
Supporters of Israel were critical of his support for Palestinians and his criticism of the Israeli government.
"I'm still not totally believing it," said Lane. "Our relationship was based on work in the community but we really were personal friends."
"It's a terrible blow to me and so many people," said Peter Klotz-Chamberlin, a co-founder of the Resource Center for Nonviolence.
"He really engaged in lots of issues. I think contributing to bringing Palestinian people into the American political awareness and discussion and policy was his biggest accomplishment.
"The way he went to Palestine some 40 times, established strong friendships with Palestinians and brought many of them here to tell of their life experience. It was important for Palestians and Americans trying to understand our relationship with the Palestinian struggle."
They started the Resource Center for Nonviolence  in Santa Cruz in 1976 and Kennedy won the 2010 Pfeffer Peace Prize, an honor for international human rights, justice, and peace work by the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
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