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Freshly elected assemblyman says, sorry, gotta go -- to Afghanistan

November 4, 2010 | 11:42 am

Fresh from his election to the state Assembly, Republican Jeff Gorell of Camarillo is considering whether to turn his district over to someone else.

Gorell was elected to the 37th Assembly District seat just a few days after announcing he had been given orders to deploy in March to Afghanistan for a year with the Naval Reserves.  

He has been discussing with other state officials whether state law could be changed to allow him to nominate a temporary fill-in for his Assembly seat until he gets back from overseas. The idea under consideration is to have the appointment made by the governor.

Gorell received 58.4% of the vote to defeat Democrat Ferial Masry for the seat being vacated, because of term limits, by Assemblywoman Audra Strickland (R-Moorpark).  

Masry said more people might have voted for her if they had known sooner that Gorell was going to Afghanistan for half of the two-year Assembly term.  "I wish he had said it earlier to give voters a chance to consider it," she said. "This is a year. It means our district is not going to have a voice."

Gorell said he had not made public his deployment until Saturday because that was when the military gave him permission to do so.

Even if he cannot get the law changed in time to allow an appointment, he believes his district will be well-served during his leave of absence. Gorell said he already was talking to other lawmakers to help move the bills he would introduce before he left in March. "I’m going to be rolling out a well-thought-out plan in the next couple of weeks to give people in our district comfort that they will have a voice even while I am on leave and deployed," Gorell said.

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento