Editor’s note: For this edition of 10 questions, The California Aggie spoke with Matt Rexroad, a Yolo County supervisor who lives in Woodland. Prior to his current position, Rexroad served as mayor of Woodland, an attorney and a U.S. marine serving in Iraq.
What are your duties as a Yolo County supervisor?
The Board of Supervisors is a subdivision of the state of California. It’s in charge of a budget of around $370 million.
[We’re in charge of the] land use, general government and social services of Yolo County.
How long have you worked in politics?
I’ve worked in politics largely since I got out of college. I worked in the state capitol for 11 years. I was vice mayor of Woodland for two years and mayor for two years. I’m now on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors.
I also run a political consulting and public affairs firm in Sacramento simultaneously.
You served as a marine in the Iraq war. Did this experience change you?
I don’t think so … I don’t think the Marine Corps changed me as much as I changed my relationship to the Marine Corps. I have a 4-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. If I left for seven months right now, my son probably wouldn’t even remember me when I got back. A lot of military people are paying that price.
It’s very important to me that I play that role in raising my kids. I enjoy [it]; I love my kids.
So I don’t think the war experience changed me – but it certainly makes you appreciate your family.
What drew you to a military career?
The military for me was an athletic challenge. Nobody insisted that I do it; it wasn’t a family tradition or anything.
The HBO series Generation Kill takes place during the same time you served in Iraq. How accurate is the show’s portrayal?
I think it’s amazing actually…. They’ve got the language down, all the stuff we had on down. Marines are notoriously off-kilter [laughs]. The guy [on the show] driving the Humvee just babbles – I’ve certainly known a few of those.
Whoever is doing [the show] knows exactly what they’re doing. They have the characters down.
You’re one of the advocates for a Davis-Woodland bikeway. Why do you feel this is important?
Well, there’re a couple of reasons. One, we probably have 1,500 Woodland residents who work at the university. A lot already bike, so it would be good to have a safer way.
One of the reasons I don’t like to bike is because I don’t like to be passed by trucks at 70 mph – it’s not a very good experience. There’s no safe route [now].
Do you have any specific visions for the future of Yolo County?
Well, the bike path, which is important to me. I definitely want to deal with the flood control issue in Woodland. I also want to try to preserve the agricultural land in the county.
I think a bikeway would be a huge asset to the county. As we see the cost of fuel go up, it would give people an incentive to ride their bikes more. The bikeway would be an incentive to get off the road.
I’m a huge advocate and I’m pretty confident that we can get this thing built.
I understand you are a bone marrow donor. Can you tell me about this experience?
A guy in my church in Woodland had leukemia and needed a bone marrow donor. I got tested [but he couldn’t find a match]. The guy passed away.
Years later, I get this letter in the mail, telling me I am a match for a 17-year-old kid.
I talked to my father who’s a doctor, and [bone marrow donation] sounded like something I wanted to do.
It was very easy – I think I went running the next day. You can send a little gift with your bone marrow – I sent a Marine Corps flag.
You have to wait a year until you meet the person; I put in the notice to meet him. He had leukemia. He came out to California and met my family, and I took him to Disneyland. We kept in touch through letters…. He needed another [marrow donation]. I gave to him a second time, but unfortunately he didn’t make it.
But we were able to extend his life for about five years. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I still keep in touch with his family.
I’m sorry that he passed away. But he certainly made an impact on my life.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to go into politics?
Politics is really about public service. You have people that go into politics for the wrong reasons. The reality is it’s a lot of meetings; it’s really about getting things done for your community.
What is your favorite summer activity?
Swimming – playing with my kids in the pool.
ANNA OPALKA conducted this interview. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.