Mayor Steven Swartz died suddenly while on vacation on May 8. He was 71. (Courtesy of the city of San Clemente)
San Clemente Mayor Steven Swartz, who was in his first term on the City Council, has died. He was 71.
City officials confirmed the longtime San Clemente resident died Wednesday morning, May 8, while on vacation in Palm Springs.
Swartz was elected to the City Council in 2016 and was appointed mayor in December.
“Everyone is in shock,” said Mayor Pro Tem Dan Bane, who said he was contacted earlier Wednesday by Swartz’s wife, Nikki. “Steve was a community leader for many years. He loved San Clemente and chose to give his time to the community. The community owes him a lot.”
Swartz, who had a successful bond underwriting business in town, previously served on the city’s Beaches, Parks and Recreation committee for a decade and was a member of the San Clemente Coastal Advisory Committee.
Richard Ford worked with Swartz in his San Clemente business, South Coast Surety. Swartz was known nationally as a businessman in the insurance surety business.
“He helped a lot of people,” Ford said. “He helped small contractors apply for larger jobs. You couldn’t count the number of people he helped.”
San Clemente resident Bill Hart served with Swartz on the coastal advisory committee. He described Swartz as a champion of the city’s coastline, beaches and the ocean.
“His voice was well-reasoned and appreciated,” Hart said. “He was also involved in the (San Clemente Sunrise) Rotary Club and pioneered a golf tournament that raised thousands of dollars (for Laura’s House and Family Assistance Ministries.) His activities in San Clemente were multi-faceted.”
Dana Point Mayor Joe Muller, too, was shocked by the news of Swartz’s death. He served with Swartz on the boards of the Transportation Corridor Agencies and the Orange County Fire Authority.
“He was just such the nicest guy,” Muller said. “He was always happy and always had a kind word. He’s going to be missed. It’s a sad day.”
Swartz served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War.
In 2016, he ran for the City Council to help, he said, protect residents from reckless sober living homes he said were bringing crime and drugs to San Clemente. He also campaigned on greater budget oversight, citing excessive attorney’s fees paid in failed lawsuits the city had faced.
Ford said he was told by Nikki Swartz that her husband had not been feeling well for a few days.
“He went to lay down and she went in and found him,” he said.
Swartz is survived by his wife and son, Kyle.
San Clemente has lowered all city flags to half-staff in memorial of Swartz and will remain at half-staff until his interment.
This article has been updated from an earlier version to correct Steven Swartz’s age. He was 71.