Orange County Deputy DA Kelly Ernby Dies at Age 46

5January 2022

Orange County Deputy District Attorney Kelly Ernby, a political hopeful who ran for state Assembly as a Republican, has died at age 46.

Ernby died Sunday. A cause of death was not mentioned in a statement from the Orange County District Attorney’s office. The Republican Party of Orange County said Ernby died after a brief illness.

The Orange County Register reported that Ernby died about a week after telling friends she had COVID-19.

“I lost a dear friend to Covid complications,” Ben Chapman, chair of the Greater Costa Mesa Republicans, said on Twitter. “You’ve been nothing but an inspiration to many of us here in Orange County.”

Ernby, a Huntington Beach resident, had served for more than a decade as a deputy district attorney, working primarily on environmental law and consumer protection cases, the Register said.

“Kelly was an incredibly vibrant and passionate attorney who cared deeply about the work that we do as prosecutors – and deeply about the community we all fight so hard to protect,” District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement. “Her enthusiasm was contagious and she invested every ounce of her enthusiasm into her work safeguarding Orange County as part of our Environmental Protection team.”

Ernby ran for the Assembly in 2020 as a “pro-business, pro-taxpayer, political outsider” who wanted to “bring back conservative values in California.” After losing her primary bid, she became active in local GOP politics, taking on leadership roles for the party’s Precinct Operations and Voter Registration committees.

“Kelly was an incredible patriot and leader in our party. She spent her career fighting to give people a voice,” the Republican Party of OC tweeted. “From the victims she protected as a deputy district attorney to the volunteers she worked with in the Republican Party, Kelly cared about people.”

The Register said Ernby commented frequently on Twitter about her opposition to mandates for COVID-19 vaccines.

“I never heard Kelly say, ‘Don’t get a vaccine,’” said Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner. “Everything I heard was make an informed decision. It is your decision to make.”

She was widely expected to run again for state office in 2022.

Ernby is survived by her husband, Axel.
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