Current Mayor Warren Gubler helped his city weather the recession, complete major projects, rekindle sister city program, kick off Senior Games
By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
VISALIA – There’s no guarantee who will be Visalia’s next mayor but Visalians already know which current councilmember it won’t be.
Warren Gubler, Visalia’s current mayor, will not seek re-election and is ready to step down from the dais after nine years on the city council. The two-term councilmember said he made the decision not to run more than a year ago.
“I’m going to take a vacation and spend more time with my family,” Gubler said.
That vacation almost didn’t come as Gubler narrowly missed making the November ballot for the District 26 seat on the California Assembly by 1,100 votes. Gubler announced his candidacy for the state seat last September and ran against incumbent and fellow Republican Devon Mathis on a platform of repealing the Gas Tax and attacking his vote in favor of cap and trade. He said he was not considering any other political offices at this time.
The city has accomplished a lot since Gubler was first elected to the council in 2009. The city went from struggling with a deficit to ending the last fiscal year with a $4.5 million surplus. The city broke ground and completed a $4.6 million Animal Care Center and its $28 million Visalia Emergency Communications Center (VECC). The city is also nearing completion on its $145 million Water Conservation Plant (WCP). The plant will use a membrane bioreactor (MBR), an ultra filtration device, to remove waste from the water at a microscopic level. Visalia’s facility will be the 13th largest MBR plant in the world and the fifth largest in the United States once it is completed. The City will use the recycled water to irrigate the golf course, landscaping along the highways, and parks.
“We will see a remarkable water savings with that facility going forward,” Gubler said.
Gubler personally spent time and energy into two other accomplishments. He was one of the biggest cheerleaders for the Parks & Recreation Department’s Senior Games. Launched three years ago, the two-week games average about 500 participants each year. Gubler also spearheaded the effort to reconnect Visalia with its sister city in Miki, Japan. In October, Gubler will lead his second citizen delegation to Japan, where he was inspired by their city hall and had hoped to build a similar civic center at home.
“About the only thing that we didn’t accomplish, but that I would like to see done, is a new city hall and civic center in east downtown,” Gubler said.
Gubler retired from his professional life at the end of last year when he decided he would no longer be an active partner at Gubler and Abbott LLP, a law firm he co-founded in 2002. Gubler said he is still “of counsel” which means that he is available when the firm needs him.
But retiring professionally and politically doesn’t mean Gubler is withdrawing from his community. The long-time civic leader said he will continue to serve on the Sequoia Council for Boy Scouts of America and may continue to be involved in The Creative Center, a non-profit Day Training Activity Center serving adults with developmental disabilities.
“It’s been a great experience and I’m glad I did it but I also believe in giving others an opportunity,” Gubler said. “I think sometimes it can be intimidating to run against an incumbent.”
At least three people have already filed for Gubler’s District 3 seat on the council including former District 1 Supervisor candidate Brian Poochigian, instructional technology specialist Steve Woods and community advocate Merritt Wiseman.