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Former area Congressman Norman Shumway completes his self-published autobiography

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Posted: Monday, January 4, 2010 12:00 am

Norman Shumway served the Lodi area in Congress for 12 years before retiring in 1991, but since that time, he and his wife have moved to Bountiful, Utah.

Shumway, 75, has just completed a 570-page autobiography with photographs, which will soon be available at the Lodi Public Library and other area libraries.

Born July 28, 1934, in Phoenix, Ariz., Shumway grew up in Stockton. He has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Utah and a law degree from the University of California's Hastings College of Law.

He was a partner in a Stockton law firm until then-Gov. Ronald Reagan appointed him to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors in 1974. He was elected to the board in 1974 and 1978.

In 1978, Shumway defeated incumbent Democrat John McFall for what was then the 14th Congressional District seat. In Congress, Shumway represented all or part of 16 counties and northeastern California.

Shumway has been active with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving as a bishop from 1969 through 1974.

He and his wife, Luana, have six children: Jenny, from Wyoming; Neal, from Nebraska; Perry and Brenda, from Idaho; Tyler, from Michigan; and Stuart, from Massachusetts. The Shumways also have 36 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Shumway responded to an e-mailed questionnaire with News-Sentinel staff writer Ross Farrow.

Q: When did you move to Utah and why? Do you like it there?

A: We actually moved to Utah when we bought a home in Bountiful in October 2001.

You should not ask me if I like Utah when I am in the midst of using my snow blower and shovel three or four times a week and worry about frostbite when we venture out to the grocery store. I exaggerate, of course, but I do miss the pleasant climate, many friendships, abundant scenery and agricultural bounty of life in the San Joaquin Valley. We located in Utah after prioritizing our energies and time to serve in our church — the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, headquartered in Salt Lake City. While living here, we have been occupied in hosting Asian journalists during the 2002 Winter Olympics, hosting VIP visitors to Salt Lake City (2002-05) and serving as church representatives to the United Nations (2006-08).

Q: What prompted you to write the book?

A: I wanted to leave a record of my life — one which details my thoughts, ambitions, faith, adventures, achievements (and failures) — for my descendants.

Consequently, the book is loaded with personal references which may best be appreciated only by my family members and posterity. My hope is that my life story will be instructive — maybe motivational — to future generations. It is a self-published autobiography and is not for sale or personal gain.

Q: What's keeping you occupied these days, aside from the book?

A: Not counting the 18 months we lived in Manhattan, I devoted almost two years to the writing of my autobiography. I am now capsulizing the life stories of my father and mother and pondering what direction my life may take in the future. Another mission for the church is a possibility, as is a teaching position (adjunct) at a university.

Q: What do you consider the highlights and lowlights of your time on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors?

While a member of the Board of Supervisors, a couple of highlights come to mind:

(1) The denial of the Stockton Port Commission's request to levy a property tax for operating funds. That decision survived considerable public controversy and a writ of mandate sought by the port; it provided a needed incentive for the commissioners to restructure port leadership and revitalize its capital requirements.

(2) The creation of Oak Grove Regional Park with a large portion devoted to a natural oak woodland. The setting aside of a nature preserve was controversial but has proven to be of benefit to many who seek to learn about native plants and animals as well as ancient tribal cultures.

A lowlight during my years as a county supervisor: The adoption of mandatory busing of students by the Stockton Unified School District — a badly conceived experiment in social engineering which divided the city, contributed to downtown decline and did nothing to enhance the education of minority children.

At my urging, the county board did adopt an advisory resolution against forced busing. It was criticized as being meddlesome, but proved to be prophetic after the community had been irreparably damaged.

Q: If you were still in Congress, how would you cope with the issues the country faces, such as the recession and health care plan?

A: I would pray for better leadership on both sides of the aisle. There is a dearth of able, responsible leaders in Congress. The leadership has allowed Congress to become very partisan, very acrimonious in their debates.

I think there are a lot of people who wish their representatives would work more together. The health care bill is an example of legislation at its worst. It is not well-conceived, not debated. The administration feared that when people realized how much it would cost (they would stop it, so) they tried to get it passed right away.

Q: Should the United States escalate the war in Afghanistan?

A: I think it is something we should do. There are terrorists out there. We need to root them out on those shores, not our shores.

Q: How do you feel about the extra cost to the budget deficit to finance the war escalation?

A: National defense is something that government should be doing.

Q: Now that you live in Utah, do you still follow the current events in San Joaquin County and the state Legislature? What do you think?

A: I have not followed current events in San Joaquin County. As for the state, I believe that the liberal majorities in the Assembly and Senate must be reined in. California vainly tries to be all things to all people, and in the process tramples upon the entrepreneurial spirit and individual initiatives of its citizens.

The budgetary dilemma should be resolved by conservative choices in Sacramento — fewer programs, lower taxes and economic incentives.

Q: How would you try to solve California's fiscal crisis? There doesn't seem to be any likelihood of compromise by the two parties. Do you see any way to come to a meeting of the minds on future budgetary issues?

A: I have faith in the political process. I believe that eventually the voters in California's bastions of liberalism (Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay Area come to mind) will come to realize that their elected representatives are not serving the public interest in their zeal to spend, spend, spend.

It may require a state-declared bankruptcy to bring that realization home; the pain of going that route might bring awareness and inspire needed reform.

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