Assemblyman Gorell Set To Deploy

DEC. 13, 2010


When Jeff Gorell decided more than two years ago to run for the state Assembly, he never dreamed that he would be deployed to the Middle East again, this time to Afghanistan. But not long after Gorell’s name appeared on the ballot, he received his orders.

His ramrod-straight posture immediately gives away his military training. Newly elected to the 37th District, Gorell, R-Camarillo, is having to prepare not only for a new session, but also for being absent from the Assembly for one year.

Gorell currently serves as a Lt. Commander in the United States Navy Reserve. Within days of Sept 11, 2001, Gorell was recalled to active duty and served for one year in the Arabian Gulf and Afghanistan. He was decorated for leadership and meritorious actions in a combat zone, and led multiple teams of combat cameramen into the mountains of Afghanistan to embed with small Special Forces teams as they captured enemy weapons caches and fought the Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists.

Gorell fills the seat left by outgoing Assemblywoman Audra Strickland. He ran against Strickland in 2004, and lost only by a tiny margin.

Gorell said that he announced his intention to run for the Assembly again in early 2008, and won many early endorsements, including Strickland’s. His strategy paid off as he defeated his Democratic opponent Ferial Masry by more than 25,000 votes.

A graduate of University of California, Davis as well as McGeorge School of Law, Gorell joined the Naval Reserves in 1999 after completing law school.

Whetting his appetite for politics, Gorell served as a writer and deputy press secretary to Governor Pete Wilson from 1992-1996. He left the Capitol briefly to work on Wilson’s presidential campaign, but returned to Sacramento to work  while Wilson was still in office.

Gorell did a three-year stint as the Director of Communications for the California Manufacturers and Technology Association from 1996 to 1999, while he was attending law school. As a pro-business advocate at the CMTA, Gorell frequently testified before the Legislature for pro-business bills in the areas of taxes, regulations, workers compensation, tort reform and trade law. He then worked as a deputy district attorney in Ventura County from 1999-2006, prosecuting major narcotics cases.

Currently a co-owner of Paladin Principle, a public affairs firm based in Ventura, Gorell also is member of the California Lutheran University faculty, having taught undergraduate and graduate level politics and public policy.

Bringing him full circle from politics to business, Gorell says his focus is on attracting businesses back to California. “We have to have a manufacturing investment tax credit,” he said. “We have to reward businesses for deciding to invest in California, because other states do the same.”

Gorell created a business advisory group that plans to attract businesses to his district through contracting work with the three nearby military bases. He even has the support of labor unions.

“I am putting my business advocacy and military background together to create private sector jobs,” he said. “Manufacturing has actually increased in my district in bio-tech, solar and even rocket-parts manufacturing.”

Gorell said Vandenberg Air Force base and the Naval Air Station at Point Mugu are just two of the largest military bases he is already working with.

Gorell said that when he was campaigning for the Assembly seat, he received the support of the labor community in Ventura County primarily because of his business advisory group and the jobs focus, “proving that business and labor can work together effectively.”

As for his time away from the Assembly while he is deployed, Gorell said it could be a very productive time. “The timing is not terrible,” he said. “The bill introduction ends in February, so I plan on being a part of the 2011 budget debate before I am gone.”

Gorell said that key legislators have generously offered to shepherd his bills through the process while he is gone, and that his absence may even prove advantageous. “The bills will have life while I am gone and may actually attract more attention than they otherwise would,” he said.

By the time Gorell returns from Afghanistan in 2012, his bills will, theoretically, be coming out of the Senate and headed to the governor. “It will be well before the governor’s May revise,” said Gorell, who says he plans on jumping right back in to the fray.

Gorell has already communicated with Governor.-elect Jerry Brown’s administrative team, and said he’s looking forward to working on common goals. “Everything is on the table in California,” Gorell said. “Especially innovation.”

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