Santa Paula Times

Former City Clerk Steven Salas dies in El Rio area traffic accident

January 06, 2010
Santa Paula News

Former Santa Paula City Clerk Steven Salas Sr., who held the office one term after he succeeded his father, Victor Salas Sr., in the position, died Friday in a traffic accident near El Rio. Salas, 49, was killed January 1, 2010 at about 6:30 p.m. on Vineyard Avenue close to the Highway 118 junction near El Rio.

The California Highway Patrol said that Salas was behind the wheel of a sports utility vehicle that rolled over. Further details of the accident, which also involved another vehicle, are still being investigated. Vineyard Avenue was closed from Central Avenue in El Rio all the way to Highway 118 for more than two hours following the crash.

A native Santa Paulan, Salas was elected to the City Clerk’s position in 2000, following his father Victor, who served one four-year term. 

Born December 1, 1960 to Victor Salas Sr. and Rachel Santos Salas, Steven Salas attended local schools, graduating from Santa Paula High School in 1978. He attended the Police Academy in Northern California and became a correctional officer in Yolo County. Salas became a private investigator working for a Sacramento-based company before he opened his own agency.

Salas returned to Southern California and worked for Conflict Defense Associates as well as criminal attorneys for the last 20 years. During his investigative career, the easy-going Salas easily obtained information on a variety of civil and criminal cases where his bilingual skills were at the ready when needed.

In 2004, although he lost his second try for elected office to Santa Paula Deputy City Clerk Josie Herrera, he remained gracious in defeat. At the Council meeting where Herrera was sworn into the office, Salas noted, “I don’t take gratitude very easily, but there is something I need to bring up, my experience” with Herrera during her tenure as his deputy. 

“We’ve been through a lot our four years,” and although Salas said the “council has not always been in harmony through the years, Josie and I worked very well together.... When I was out in the trenches I knew I had someone in the office that I could trust.”

Councilman Dr. Gabino Aguirre noted during the same meeting that Salas had put great effort into ensuring that polling places were available for all Santa Paula voters, as well as making equal efforts to ensure poll workers, including those with bilingual skills, were available for elections, “not an easy task.” Aguirre also noted that Salas took his City Clerk duties beyond “just being here.”

An avowed tinkerer and admired repairperson, Salas was also an avid musician and drummer who played with various bands over the years at area clubs and special events. Salas also enjoyed films, Classic Rock, Lakers basketball, and cooking and consuming his own special chile verde, but he especially enjoyed his children, grandchildren and family.

Aside from his parents, Salas is also survived by his brothers Victor Salas, Jr. and Michael Salas; children Lorena (husband Brian), Vanessa, Victoria, Steven Jr. (wife Moneka), Britannie and Xiomara; and six grand-children, and many, many friends also survive him. 

Visitation will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, January 6 at Church of Angels, 600 E. Pleasant Street. Prayer service will follow at 7 p.m. at El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church, 1029 E. Santa Paula Street. Funeral service will be held Thursday, January 7 at 10 a.m., also at El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church.