From ordained minister to President of the California State Association of Counties, Gary Wyatt has led a life similar to a Hollywood story. Wyatt began his path to public service as a member of the Imperial County High School District Board.

“I enjoyed that job and was very successful,” Wyatt said. “We passed a $25 million bond measure while I was in that position. That’s pretty good.”

After rumblings of distrust with elected officials grew throughout the constituency of Imperial County, Wyatt decided to throw his hat in the ring for the county’s board of supervisor position.

“I was considered the dark horse candidate,” said Wyatt. “No one really gave me a chance.”

As an underdog candidate, Wyatt won that election in the fall of 2000 and assumed office in early spring of 2001.

Wyatt ran for re-election again in 2004 and won. Along the way he defeated his own brother in the primary race – something Wyatt considers unbelievable.

“I’m not sure if my brother running against me is infamous or famous,” stated Wyatt. Either way it highlights the unpredictable nature of local government.

Wyatt now serves in his third term as a member of the Imperial County Board of Supervisors earning re-election again this year.

However, Imperial County Board of Supervisors does not serve as his only position of influence.

This past December at their annual conference, the California State Association of Counties elected Wyatt their President. He is the first representative from Imperial County to ever hold that position.

CSAC represents county governments before the California Legislature, administrative agencies and the federal government.

“As President I’ve become the leader of counties in California,” Wyatt stated. “I act as the face and voice of counties primarily.”

Additionally, Wyatt represents California counties all over the country when he represents CSAC at conferences and functions all over the 50 states.

According to Wyatt, nothing currently comes close to California’s budget crisis as the top concern for Wyatt and the rest of CSAC.

“Never has any state faced the magnitude of what we’re facing now,” said Wyatt. “The solutions are unknown. We have the seventh largest economy in the world and have the biggest hole of any other state to climb out of.”

Wyatt further stated that one unique thing about California is that everyone lives in a county; therefore, counties serve as the greatest providers of goods and services.

However, with the financial crisis before the state, counties are struggling with how to handle the demands.

“Those services brought to people by counties are the most important,” said Wyatt. “At the current time we face the greatest demand for services and the greatest challenges providing those services; such as public health, court structure, fire, etc.”

Wyatt further stated that “My job is both scary and exciting at the same time.”

“I believe that we (California counties) will come out of this financial crisis better, stronger, and smarter than before.”

Moreover, Wyatt stressed the importance that local government will play in the overall effort of California reform.

“Local government is an important part in making that happen,” Wyatt said. “You cannot succeed in reshaping California’s future and addressing these huge issues without the participation, creativity and insightfulness that local government can bring.”

Notable figures throughout California’s political system have worked with Wyatt and can attest of their relationship with him.

California Assembly member Manuel Perez has worked with Wyatt and appreciates his hard work.

“Gary and I have had the opportunity to work on Imperial County focused legislation, and I genuinely appreciate his willingness to engage with me on issues of common concern,” avowed Perez.

Perez further stated that, “With CSAC, Gary has visited my Capitol office and been an active advocate on behalf of local government.  I look forward to our continued work together.”

Furthermore, Yolo County District 1 Supervisor Mike McGowan praised Wyatt for his professionalism and desire to make CSAC truly efficient.

“I see him as our leader and an able one,” stated McGowan.

McGowan further praised Wyatt for his leadership saying, “I enjoy working with him because he seems to understand that the role of CSAC is more than just his personal view but the representation of the average county supervisor and speaks to the fundamental issues that we all agree with – local control, local autonomy, etc.”

Gary Wyatt has risen to significance in California local government politics and received praise for his work. Even in the midst uncertain times and a state economic crisis, Wyatt contends that he “relishes the challenge.”