by Linda KC Reynolds
With a few tears, as well as a lot of laughs and hugs, friends and community members packed a large meeting room at the Embassy Suites Palmdale to say thank you to outgoing U.S. Rep. Steve Knight and his wife, Lily, for generously serving the community for over 30 years.
Mr. Knight served in the United States Army, was a member of the LA Police Department, a member of the Palmdale City Council, vice mayor of Palmdale, California state assembly member, California state senator and became represented California’s 25th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2015–2019.
Selfless, caring, approachable, humble, down-to-earth, hard-working and available, were some of the words used to describe both Mr. and Mrs. Knight.
“Simi Valley learned what a congressman is and should be, when Steve Knight became our congressman,” said Simi Valley Mayor Keith Mashburn. The mayor shared how Knight showed up to local businesses, aerospace companies and community events, asking people what they needed and what he could do for them. “He showed up unannounced, unaccompanied and ready to serve; no entourage, no press, just Steve — and he got things done.” Other candidates spent thousands of dollars on ads attempting to discredit Knight, but he did not retaliate and get ugly, he stayed true to his character, said Mashburn.
Simi Valley Councilman Mike Judge said, “I don’t think we had this type of representation since we had a representative living in Simi Valley — then again, I still don’t think it was as good as Steve. I don’t know if we will ever have it again.”
Long before Gen. John “Dragon” Teichert even thought of becoming commander of the 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base, he said he had the privilege of visiting Knight in his Washington, D.C., office where Knight took the time to advise him on his career at a pivotal moment. “I will forever be grateful for you and Lily.”
Knight told the general that in order to go into Congress, you had to have an overriding passion about something. “Not just love of country — that was important, but there had to be an issue, at least one that you were passionate about, and he shared with me it was about caring for veterans in his community,” explained Teichert. Based on Knight’s record, Teichert believed him, but seeing him in action for the past six months since he assumed command of the 412th TW, Teichert has seen Knight’s passion and commitment to his community in action. On behalf of Edwards, Teichert said they were happy to have had such representation in Washington. He then presented Knight with a distinctive honor, a Commander’s Coin.
“One of my favorite things I’ve done was to have the privilege to send 65 young cadets to serve in the Armed Services,” via the nation’s military academies, said Knight. On average, members of Congress send four students or less from their districts per year. Knight and his selection committee sent between 16 and 22 students each year. Community leaders Isaac Barcelona and John Fergione served on Knight’s selection committee, seeking out and interviewing prospective cadets each year.
“When Steve assigned me to be his chairman of Military Academy Selections Committee, he had only one set of instructions; to give him the best students that wouldn’t quit, and that is what we did. Steve didn’t get involved, he didn’t micro-manage, he never wanted to even appear to show favoritism,” said Fergione. “He is first-class all the way.”
The Knights plan on staying in the community, where Lily works as a registered nurse in the neonatal unit at Antelope Valley Hospital, while Steve plans on spending more time at the golf course. Asked if they would run for office again, Lily said it is like having a baby. “During labor you say ‘never again.’ Then you see the rewards and forget all the pain and trauma.”