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In Honor Of Dennis “Denny” Gillette

Rep. Elton Gallegly

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Mr. Speaker, I rise in honor of Dennis ``Denny'' Gillette, who retires today after nearly 14 years on the Thousand Oaks City Council, making him the second-longest serving councilmember in the city's history.

My wife, Janice, and I have had the honor of knowing Denny and his wife, Terry, for more than 30 years. Denny spent his entire adult life in the service of his country and his community, as a Marine, as a sheriff's deputy who rose to the rank of assistant sheriff, as vice president of California Lutheran University (CLU), and as an elected official.

Denny stepped down from the council for health reasons. I mention that only to share a story that illustrates his dedication as a public servant. Last month, Denny was hospitalized for surgery. At the time, the council was interviewing candidates for city attorney. Although Denny was advised by his doctors to rest, Denny insisted that the finalists come to the hospital, where he interviewed them from his hospital bed.

I was not surprised to hear that story.

When Denny was with the Ventura County Sheriff's Department--a career that spanned 25 years--I worked with him often on criminal justice issues. During his 12-year stint as vice president of CLU, we worked together on educational and community issues. As a cotuicilmember--and three-time mayor--we worked together on a host of issues, including the widening of the 123 Freeway and 101/23 freeway interchange.

Denny's sure hand and calm but determined demeanor ensured that projects moved forward and were completed. Denny was also served 10 years on the Conejo Recreation and Park District Board before deciding to run for the City Council, and he completed many of the park projects he started on the park board from the council dais.

His many other accomplishments are too lengthy to list here, but they include: construction of the Community Transportation Center; forging a strong working relationship among the city, Park District, and Conejo Valley Unified School District; forging a highly successfully ``Town-Gown'' relationship between the city and CLU when he was at CLU, resulting in the successful completion of the North Campus Specific Plan and construction of the popular Community Pool located on the CLU campus; and construction of state-of-the-art athletic fields at Newbury Park High School, Thousand Oaks High School, and Westlake High School.

Current Mayor Jacqui Irwin told a local newspaper that when she learned of Denny's decision to retire, her heart dropped because she could not imagine the City Council without him.

The rest of the community feels the same way, Denny.

Mr. Speaker, I know my colleagues join me in thanking Denny for his lifetime of public service and in wishing him good health and many years of continued happiness with Terry, his wife of 42 years, and their daughters, Kristine and Lisa.