The County Voice

Getting to Know CSAC Second Vice President Bruce Gibson

During CSAC’s 127th Annual Meeting last year in beautiful Monterey County, the new 2021-22 officers were elected and installed. As we often say, CSAC is only as strong as its membership, and our newest Second Vice President is as strong, resilient, and effective as they come – San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Bruce Gibson.

Many of you may know Supervisor Gibson from his service as a member of the CSAC Board of Directors and Executive Committee; Chair of the Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources Policy Committee; or as CSAC’s representative to the County Drought and Advisory Group. Supervisor Gibson has worked in public service since 2007 and is committed to accessible and transparent government. He always leads by example and is not afraid to address any challenges or difficult topics facing counties. 

As someone who loves learning about counties and the people who serve, I recently had the great fortune of learning more about Supervisor Gibson, including his background, motivation, and priorities. Here are his responses.

Q: Please share a little bit about yourself.

I was born in San Fernando and my family moved to Santa Barbara while I was in high school. I studied Physics at Pomona College – getting interested in geophysics, I obtained my Master’s from University of Hawaii, did research in the industry, and then received my Doctorate from Rice University in Houston. Moving back to California in 1989, I switched fields to farming (a family tradition), growing oranges on a ranch near Cayucos in San Luis Obispo County. In 2014, I retired from farming and am now delighted to live in town with my wonderful wife, Cherie, and two energetic Australian shepherds.

Q: What led you to public service or being a Board Supervisor?

Deeply connected to our beautiful landscape, I became active in community issues and land conservation. In 2004-05, I advocated for the Hearst Ranch conservation project, which permanently protects 82,000 acres of land surrounding Hearst Castle and 18 miles of coastline! In that effort, I saw what dedicated elected officials could accomplish, especially how they worked behind the scenes. When my predecessor for Board Supervisor decided to retire, she asked me if I was interested in running and (eventually) I said yes. It was a great decision!

Q: What local issues are top of mind for 2022?

Homelessness and housing are pressing – we need to commit morally and financially to develop programs that address all aspects, such as immediate shelter, transitional housing, behavioral health services, job training and the development of more permanent housing opportunities. I’m also passionate about counties helping to increase childcare accessibility and affordability.

Q: Who is your hero?

There are a lot of people who inspire me and I don’t know many of their names. I’m thinking of the folks who work every day for others, often in challenging situations, like public health experts, elections staff, and the caregivers for our most vulnerable.

Q: What are you currently reading or watching?

I’ve just finished reading “Damnation Spring” by Ash Davidson, a deeply affecting fiction novel set in the redwoods of our northern coast. I’m also usually reading a non-fiction book and a recent one that impressed me – and gave me hope – was “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs All of Us and How We Can Prosper Together” by Heather McGhee.

Q: What is your favorite movie of all time?

“Men in Black.” For me, movies are about escapism, although I sometimes think the aliens in MIB may be real.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?

In my life, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have had so many opportunities to work on interesting projects and experience remarkable adventures. In my work life, I am most proud of gaining the trust of constituents who have elected me to four terms as Board Supervisor – a job I truly love.

Q: What motivates you to work hard?

County government is the best – we deal with issues that directly affect peoples’ lives – and San Luis Obispo County is the perfect size to be in this kind of public service. I get great satisfaction from being able to see firsthand the results of our collective efforts on projects and programs. The chance to see more of this energizes me every day.

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