WHERE ARE THEY NOW

After 26 Years in Congress, Elton Gallegly Teaches Public Service

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio administers the House oath to Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., right, during a mock swearing-in ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
National Journal
Cameron Smith
Aug. 8, 2013, 3:30 p.m.

“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.

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