"I don't look forward to the rocking chair," said former Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif. So the 69-year-old Los Angeles County native has kept himself very busy since retiring from Congress in January after serving 13 terms.
Gallegly recently partnered with California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, just west of L.A., to organize and launch a graduate-level program for young students who are preparing for careers in public service. He said the center's goal is to help students "understand what public service is all about" and to expose them to the world of politics outside of running for office.
"It will give them a great head start," he said. "They'll know that public service is about more than campaigning and fundraising strategies."
The project has taken up a large portion of Gallegly's time in the past few months. "I got involved with what I thought was going to be a little project and then realized it was huge," he said.
But to Gallegly, it has been time well spent. "Anything important is going to take time," he said.
"You don't want your name attached to something that is going to fail. More importantly, you don't want something you care about to fail. You know, you have to enjoy what you're doing in life. You don't have to be the grand poo-bah or anything; you just have to enjoy it."
Gallegly has also continued his work with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, which is very important to him because of a friendship that was formed when Reagan was president and Gallegly was a junior member of Congress.
"There's a lot of synergy between the two projects, and they're close to my heart," said Gallegly. The two institutions will be linked by the scholars associated with the center, he said.
Gallegly seems to be enjoying life in the fast lane. "It's kind of like driving a race car," he said. "You're either going hundreds of miles an hour or you're not moving. I was a small-business guy, and somewhere along the line I was almost dared to shut up or do something, and so I ran for mayor, and to my own surprise I won. The rest went from there."
Where Are They Now is a National Journal Daily series that catches up with lawmakers who left office in January to find out what they are doing. It will run throughout August.