Society Member is Full-Time Law, Part-Time City Council
Warren Gubler, an active member of the Fresno/Visalia chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society (and former chapter chair), has been able to balance a thriving commercial litigation/collection law practice and service on the Visalia, California City Council for the last two years. To Gubler, it seems that timing was the key to making it all work. With an undergraduate degree in political science/government from BYU, and experience teaching political science at the college level, he has always been interested in local politics and has served in the community. In fact, he even considered running for office in previous years but decided against it while his kids were still young. Gubler doesn't recommend politics and a full-time law practice to someone who still has young kids at home and is trying to balance work, elected office, parenting responsibilities, and church callings.
The time was right when he had only two teenage children left living at home and the ability to cut back his workload somewhat to allow for the 20-plus hours a week serving on the City Council requires. Gubler, Koch, Degn & Gomez, LLP has five attorneys and an established enough clientele to allow Warren to arrange his schedule and make things fit. Plus, the firm benefits from Gubler's increased name recognition in the community.
What does serving on the City Council entail for a full-time attorney? In Visalia, a town of 125,000, the City Council is responsible for the scope, direction, and financing of city services. The five-member Council is the legislative body that sets policy that is then administered and implemented by full-time staff under the Council-Manager form of government. The Council members serve four-year terms and select one member to serve as mayor and another as vice mayor. A municipal election is held every two years in November, with two or three positions open each cycle.
Town council meeting are weekly and often go from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Council members also participate in frequent weeknight and Saturday events. While he enjoys serving, Gubler admittedly sometimes feels stretched a bit thin. Often he will get a call from the city on short notice to attend a meeting or luncheon or other function and speak, meaning he has to drop things at work and run to attend to the city's needs. He speaks to service clubs and meets with citizen groups. He also writes a monthly article for the local magazine Direct, as a way to keep the electorate informed of his activities, and prepares op-ed pieces for local newspapers on a regular basis. See the following links for some examples:
City Council work is not all grueling, however. Gubler has been able to have some fun as well, including at a Tulare County Symphony fundraiser modeled after "Dancing with the Stars," where he performed a quick-step routine in front of a convention center filled with well-to-do donors. He also got to judge the local Miss Tulare County pageant. The experience has been rewarding too. Gubler enjoys working with citizens one-on-one as he tries to help them work through the city maze to get building and remodeling permits, deal with issues with pets, and attract new businesses. The City Council affords an opportunity for Gubler to give service to his fellow citizens and put his stamp on Visalia's direction. Warren feels that the city has been in a slow anti-business growth cycle in recent years. He has worked hard to help restore the city's dominance as the regional retail center for central California while making the City Council and city more business-friendly.
Gubler believes that his legal experience is a great asset for the City Council. He has been able to use his expertise on numerous occasions for the city, addressing employment issues, CEQA cases, union and salary negotiations, among others. He also helps sort out such tough issues as dealing with medical marijuana and the related conflict between state and federal law.
Warren and his family are not strangers to notoriety. In 2001, the whole family was randomly selected to be featured on the CBS Evening News and CBS Early Show as part of the "Everybody has a Story" segment. See the LDS Church News story on the segment here:
As for the future, Warren Gubler is trying to decide whether he will pursue a second Council term. He has considered running for other offices, but is hesitant to give up a thriving 28-year law practice which pays substantially more than most political offices do. He can keep the practice going while serving part-time. Unfortunately, many other local and state offices, including the California state legislature, have become full-time jobs. That said, you never know what the future will hold.
By Amber Brown
Posted: August 17, 2011