Spring 2013

[Alumni News]

Gareth Elliott

A Top Advisor to California’s Governor

Gareth ElliottGareth Elliott (’92, Political Science) (right) passes gov. Jerry Brown legislation for signature.

Behind every politician, there’s a team of trusted advisors. For California Gov. Jerry Brown, HSU alum Gareth Elliott (’92, Political Science) is a big part of that team.

Elliott is the governor’s secretary of legislative affairs, serving as his top emissary to the California State Legislature. It’s an important responsibility that requires thick skin, discretion and sound judgment. “One of the most rewarding parts of my job is that I get to learn from someone who has so many years of experience,” he says.

Elliott got his first taste of politics when his mother took him to a political rally for then-presidential candidate Jesse Jackson in the 1980s. By the time he arrived at HSU, his sights were already set
on politics.

As a student, Elliott joined the Political Science Club, played lacrosse and led the university’s Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program. One of his favorite activities was debating current events in his introduction to politics class.
After graduating in ‘92, Elliott worked for a congressional campaign in California, then spent three years on Capitol Hill. In the late ‘90s, he began campaigning for then-California Assemblyman Don Perata, who went on to become a senator and President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate. In 2011, he was appointed legislative affairs secretary by Brown.

In addition to serving as the governor’s advisor, Elliott manages a staff of 10 deputies who specialize in issues like education, transportation, public safety and the environment. The governor calls on them to clarify bills, draft veto messages and determine how to respond in congressional hearings.

Some of the most frenetic times are when the governor has hundreds of bills to veto or sign into law, Elliott says. “We just went through a very intense period where we had 30 days to get through hundreds and hundreds of bills. It’s hectic, but I have to pinch myself sometimes that I am the one sitting across the table discussing these issues with the governor.”