People are either for COVID-19 vaccine mandates or against them. And Orange County Deputy District Attorney Kelly Ernby, who ran for state Assembly as a Republican, was very publicly against enforcing people to get the vaccine.

“It’s not about being anti-vaccine, it’s about being the choice to choose, and not all vaccines are the same,” Ernby had said during an online town hall meeting with Mark Newgent, a former city council candidate in Irvine.

In an ironic and sad turn of events, Ernby died of COVID-19 at the age of 46. A recent Republican Party of Orange County statement shares that Ernby died “unexpectedly” after a “brief illness.”

Ernby had run for the 74th Assembly District seat in 2020 as a “pro-business, pro-taxpayer, political outsider” whose goal was to “bring back conservative values in California.” When she lost her primary bid, she became an active member in her local GOP politics including pursuing leadership roles in various committees.

“The Republican Party of Orange County is greater because of Kelly Ernby and her passing leaves a giant void for all of Orange County,” the statement read. “While Kelly is no longer with us, her fighting spirit will live on through our entire OC GOP family. We will honor her memory by redoubling our precinct efforts. We have hope in this tragedy because we know she had a deep faith; it also reminds all of us to be generous and kind with one another as we never know when it may be the last time we see them. Our thoughts and prayers are with her loved ones.”

Though she was against mandating the vaccine, it was unclear if Ernby was vaccinated herself. In fact, that information was never disclosed. Either way, her death has certainly sparked up a conversation about the vaccine.

“Their question to me is, ‘How can we get more people to get their vaccinations?’ … Especially in light of Kelly’s death,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer.

Spitzer also added that though she was against mandating the vaccine, he doesn’t want Ernby to be remembered by being an anti-vaxxer (which she may not have even been). Though he refers to her as “aggressive,” she still doesn’t deserve that type of legacy.

“You know, the comments on social media … people have been texting me just utterly disgusted about some of the comments about [Ernby] and her life decisions … almost as if she deserved her fate because she took a particular position,” said Spitzer. “People make decisions, and obviously, with health, people have to suffer those consequences. But that should not be her legacy at all.”

Ernby was planning to run for state office again in 2022. She was married to her husband, Axel, but didn’t have children.