Ricky Gill, whose achievements vary from serving as student representative on the California Board of Education to working for the Sacramento Kings and Oakland Athletics, is seriously considering a run at Congress.
Gill, who turns 24 in May, has formed an exploratory committee to consider representing San Joaquin County in what is now the 11th Congressional District.
The California Redistricting Commission is spending the year creating new political boundaries in state and federal districts for the 2012 election, so the big question will be whether Rep. Jerry McNerney's home in Pleasanton will continue to be in the same district as the Lodi-Stockton area. However the districts line up, Gill said he would like to represent San Joaquin County.
Gill is a Republican, but he emphasized the need for civility and respect across party lines.
"When it doesn't become a tit-for-tat game, dialogue gets better," Gill said. "We have to transcend labels. We need to be singing from the same sheet of music."
Gill also believes it's time for some new blood, even if he's only 23.
"Young people do have a role to play," he said. "There is a willingness to embrace a new generation (in politics)."
Some of the issues Gill is pursuing in considering a run for Congress:
- There is no congressional representative from San Joaquin County. That needs to change.
- A single-subject rule where bills should be based on one topic. For example, Congress should not have a billion-dollar health care bill that has an unrelated foreign aid component.
- A balanced budget amendment and consensus from both sides of the aisle to keep America solvent.
- Allow the president to have line-item veto power.
- Requiring Congress to use oversight over federal agencies.
- Education, starting with an emphasis on English language immersion.
- National competitiveness in health care.
- Economy and job creation.
Keith Smith, a political science professor at University of the Pacific in Stockton, said it's not unusual for candidates to form exploratory committees a year and a half before the election.
"He has no political experience, so he has to go early to convince people he's a reasonable candidate," Smith said. "Anybody who's a reasonable candidate doesn't have to declare early. As you get closer to the primary, you will see more heavy hitters."
Smith thinks that Gill faces an uphill battle due to the expense of waging a campaign.
"I don't hold out any hope that he will win the nomination," Smith said. "I would expect someone with electoral experience to be the nominee. It's really hard to win in a district where either party can win."
Lodi City Councilman Alan Nakanishi, who has run for state Senate and served three terms in the Assembly, says he isn't aware of any other Republicans at this point forming an exploratory committee.
And Bob Mattheis, last year's president of the Greater Lodi Area Democrats, said he isn't aware of any Democrats announcing any.
The son of Lodi physicians Param and Jasbir Gill, Ricky Gill was born at Lodi Memorial Hospital and has lived here his entire life except when he attended college in Princeton, N.J. He now attends Boalt Law School in Berkeley.
McNerney said on Monday he isn't sure what he'll do if the California Redistricting Commission ends up splitting the East Bay portion of the district, where McNerney lives, and the portion currently in San Joaquin County.
"He'll cross that bridge when he gets to it," McNerney spokeswoman Sarah Hersh said.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.