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Vasquez to Quit Peace Corps Post

Former O.C. supervisor has been director less than two years. He says he has no job lined up.

October 24, 2003|Jean O. Pasco | Times Staff Writer

Former Orange County Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez will step down next month as director of the Peace Corps, leaving the post he has held for nearly two years.

He made the announcement Wednesday to employees of the $295-million relief agency in Washington. His resignation is effective Nov. 14.

"I've had a tremendously good time here," Vasquez said in an interview Thursday, "but I decided it was a good time to come home to Orange County and my family," including his aging parents.

Vasquez, 48, told employees his decision came with mixed emotions. Since he took over in February 2002, he said, the agency has been given record appropriations, processed record numbers of applications and volunteers, and added projects to the 73 countries it serves.

"The honor and opportunity to lead an agency with such a noble mission has been one of the great highlights of my professional life," he said. "I will always be grateful to President Bush for the high honor and confidence he had in nominating me to serve."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday October 28, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 58 words Type of Material: Correction
Vasquez biography -- A biographical summary that accompanied an article in some editions of Friday's California section about the resignation of Gaddi H. Vasquez as director of the Peace Corps incorrectly reported that as a teenager he was elected "governor" of the California Boys State Convention. He received the honor at the annual American Legion Boys State Convention.

Vasquez said he had no job lined up despite his active support for Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger. Vasquez was among the Schwarzenegger backers who celebrated on election night with the governor-elect at the Century Plaza in Los Angeles.

"I'm going to take it easy for a little while," he said.

A former police officer in Orange, Vasquez served in the 1980s as Gov. George Deukmejian's Hispanic liaison, then as chief deputy appointments secretary.

In 1987 he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Orange County Board of Supervisors. He won election to the post in 1988, at the time making him the highest-ranking elected Latino Republican in the state.

That same year, Vasquez captured national attention during the Republican convention in Houston as a speaker before then-Vice President George H.W. Bush was nominated to succeed President Reagan as the party standard-bearer.

Vasquez served as a county supervisor from 1987 to 1995 before resigning in the months following the county's December 1994 bankruptcy. He joined Southern California Edison but left three months later to resume his law enforcement career and, he said at the time, to spend more time with his family. He returned to Edison a short time later as division vice president of public affairs.

Vasquez remained active in Republican politics and served on the California steering committee for George W. Bush's presidential campaign. He also contributed $100,000 to the GOP National Committee, money left over from his old supervisory campaigns.

Vasquez was confirmed by the Senate in 2002 to head the Peace Corps despite efforts by a small but vocal group of former corps volunteers who questioned his lack of experience in international humanitarian issues and foreign affairs.

They argued that the new director should be one of the 160,000 returned volunteers instead of a political appointee. Most of the Peace Corps' 15 past directors had come from outside the agency, many with scant relevant experience.

The Peace Corps directorship marked Vasquez's second appointed tour in Washington. He served on two White House commissions under the first Bush administration.

His wife, Elaine, assistant to Sheriff Michael S. Carona, said she and their son, Jason, 24, would be the first to welcome him back.

"I am very happy to have him home," she said.

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Gaddi Vasquez

* Age: 48 (born Jan. 22, 1955)

* Party affiliation: Republican

* Home: Orange

* Personal: Married, one son

* Teen years: Joined Orange Police Department's Explorer Scouts at 13; elected 'governor' at annual California Boys State Convention at 17; won 33 of 37 speech contests on West Coast at 17.

* Education: Bachelor of arts in public service management from University of Redlands.

* Career highlights: Orange police officer, 1975-79; executive assistant to Orange County Supervisor Bruce Nestande, 1980-84; aide to Gov. George Deukmejian, 1985-87; appointed to Orange County Board of Supervisors by Deukmejian, 1987; elected to four-year terms as supervisor in 1988 and 1992. Resigned as supervisor in 1995 amid Orange County's bankruptcy, hired as government affairs executive at Southern California Edison in 1995. Resigned after three months and rejoined the Orange Police Department, but within a few months returned to Edison as a vice president. Named director of Peace Corps in January 2002; resignation effective Nov. 14.

* Distinctions: Youngest police officer in Orange city history at 19; highest-ranking elected Republican Latino in California at 33.

*

Source: Times reports

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