Tony Oliveira currently serves as First Vice President of the California State Association of Counties and as a Kings County Supervisor. However, his life’s work spans much broader than that.

Oliveira’s interest in local politics grew out of a growing observation that the community around him needed leadership.

“After working full-time in agriculture I just started observing what was going on around me and that really intrigued my interest in local government,” Oliveira said.

Oliveira decided that the time had come for him to make his move in late 1998 by running for Kings County Board of Supervisors.

“I thought a county supervisor was perfect because it was non-partisan, meets every week and makes decision that affect the community,” Oliveira said. “I beat the incumbent at the time who was a good elected official. I barely won by 80 votes. Must have been my destiny.”

One of Oliveira’s highlights as a supervisor has been his transparency and openness to his constituency.

Not only does he offer on his county Web site his office phone and e-mail, but also his home phone and cell phone numbers. He believes the public should have open communication with those who affect their lives most.

Oliveira’s position as Kings County Supervisor has served as a launching pad for other important positions.

“Day one when I was elected 11 years ago the standing board asked me if I would take the board position at CSAC,” Oliveira said. “I agreed and it’s led to more than I expected.”

Because of Oliveira’s recognition on CSAC, he was appointed by the Governor to serve on the board of directors for CalPERS, the California Public Employees Retirement System, in 2005.

He’s the first ever CSAC officer to ever hold such a position.

“With CalPERS, I currently serve as chair of the finance committee and I oversee all budgeting,” stated Oliveira. “Within that CalPERS role I represent all local communities in California. It keeps me pretty busy.”

On top of that, Oliveira became First Vice President of CSAC in 2008, making him one of the most prominent and influential public officials in California.

After returning from service in Vietnam in 1968, Oliveira began his professional career.

“After earning my Associates in agriculture from West Hills Community College, I got my undergraduate in business, an MBA at Pepperdine, and attended a two-year executive management program at Harvard,” Oliveira stated.

It doesn’t stop there; Oliveira is currently acquiring his PhD in Public Policy from Walden University.

When asked what the greatest challenges faced by California counties currently were, Oliveira did not shy away from honest answers.

Oliveira could be considered an expert on the economy. Between the years 2000-06 he was a professor of economics at West Hills College where he specialized in both micro- and macroeconomics with an emphasis on California and specifically the economics of the Central Valley. 

Oliveira shared how his goals for California counties can be legitimately carried out.

“Right now my goal is to defend counties of their right to operate as much as possible, educate people in Sacramento about counties and their importance, and let the Governor know about the vital role counties play,” Oliveira stated.

For Oliveira, this can be carried out through facts and knowledge.

“Right now, the first approach you take when dealing with the state government is talk and reason,” said Oliveira. “Real power comes from information and having a good argument. Time after time we’ve met with the Governor Schwarzenegger and he really wanted us to give solutions, not just complain.”

Oliveira admitted that even in tough times Governor Schwarzenegger has been a friend to California local governments.

“Schwarzenegger has been one of the friendliest and open minded governor’s that California local government has ever seen,” stated Oliveira. “CSAC considers him a friend.”

Additionally, Oliveira sees promise in California counties being able to work through the current economic times because of Governor Schwarzenegger’s belief in the importance of local government.  

“The governor is a defender of local government because he believes real government happens on the local level and wants to be on our side,” Oliveira stated. “He’s a man of my own heart.”

Even in the midst of continual work, Oliveira does find time for some intriguing non-governmental activities.

Oliveira has been coaching girl’s soccer for years from recreation league all the way through college. He considers it one of his life’s highlights.

“The greatest thing that I’ve ever had opportunity to do is make a difference in the lives of many through my coaching career,” stated Oliveira.

Additionally, Oliveira performs nationally as a published country-western and blues songwriter and composer.

“I do concerts all over,” stated Oliveira. “Music takes people beyond political differences and really opens the soul.”

Oliveira has proven himself to not just serve the community as a respected elected official, but as a citizen who’s truly given back for the best interest of those around him.

A list of his accomplishments that are given on his Web site can be seen below:

•    Citizen of the Year – Lemoore, California
•    Agriculturist of the Year – Kings County
•    Alumnus of the Year – West Hills College
•    Magna Cum Laude – Pepperdine University
•    California Youth Soccer Coach of the Year
•    I.C.E. Man of the Year
•    Lemoore High School Hall of Fame – Athletic
•    Honor of the Eagle – West Hills College
•    Circle of Excellence – CSAC

This article was originally published in June, 2009.