In today's cutthroat political climate it's hard to imagine a political strategist who could be described as "sweet" and "kind."
But those are the words being used by those paying tribute to Kam Kuwata, the Democratic political strategist who was found dead in his condominium in Venice on Monday at the age of 57.
Kuwata was a throwback to a time when politics weren't as divisive as they are now, said Sherry Bebitch-Jeffe, political analyst for NBC LA.
"One of the things Kam Kuwata brought to California politics was civility and trust," Bebitch-Jeffe said. "He was almost of another era when one could be opponents in the political arena and friends outside."
Kuwata attended Pasadena High School and had a deep interest in civil rights. His mother's family was interned during World War II.
He became one of California's most influential campaign strategists at a time when there weren't many Asian Americans in politics, helping win elections for Democratic Sens. Alan Cranston and Dianne Feinstein.
Kuwata predicted that the San Gabriel Valley would become the center of Southern California's Asian-American political scene years before it happened, said Assemblyman Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park).
"Politics was his love and he loved everyone and everything involved in politics," Eng said
"There was a certain honesty about Kam that you didn't find in too many people," Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yarovslavsky said. "He could fight with the best and hold his own, but it never prevented him from maintaining a relationship with his adversary once the fight was over."
Bebitch-Jeffe called him "a genuinely sweet, kind and thoughtful individual and extremely knowledgeable about the California and national political process, and more than willing to share that knowledge with students."