Biography of George GastilGeorge grew up in La Mesa. His father, Gordon, who passed away in 2012, was a geology professor at SDSU. His mother, Janet Manly Gastil, has been a violin teacher, a realtor, and a school board member. George takes after both of his parents, in different ways.
In 1981 George graduated from Grossmont High School and went off to Earlham College in Indiana. He majored in history and met his future wife, Janet, an English major from New England. Today Janet works for the San Diego County Library. She worked for six years as the Youth Services Librarian for the Lemon Grove branch.
George earned his M.A. in History at UC Santa Barbara, where he specialized in California state and local history. He also earned a teaching credential at SDSU and taught social studies at the high school and middle school levels. George left teaching for a few years to be a full-time parent, raising his three sons while Janet worked full-time.
In 1993 George accepted a part-time job with the Daily Californian, writing a weekly column about public events in Lemon Grove. "The pay was terrible but I loved the work . . . many of the people I know around town actually met me while I had that job!"
George and Janet found a nice old house in Lemon Grove in 1994. George was already familiar with the Lemon Grove School District from living in Vista La Mesa, where he was a school volunteer.
In 1998 George won election to the Lemon Grove School Board. He was re-elected in 2002 and 2006. George helped the district stay healthy through California's two budget crises. During his time on the board, the district cut administrative costs in order to devote more money to classroom teaching. The district also used creative methods to get families more involved in raising student achievement.
In 2000 George started teaching history at the college level. He currently teaches for Grossmont College, Palomar College and SDSU. George has taught American History, Western Civilization, World History, California History, and US History for Teachers. Working with one of his colleagues, Gastil edited a collection of documents from early California history, called Connecting California, which he uses in Early American History courses.
In 2002 George joined the staff of State Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny. He served as the Senator's local liaison for education, health care, human services, and labor issues. In this role, George worked with many state and local elected officials in the San Diego region. George worked for the Senator for two and a half years before returning to teaching full-time.
In 2004 the city put a bond on the ballot for a new library facility. George volunteered for the bond campaign and served as co-chair of the precinct effort along with Toni Shaw. The bond came up just a couple points below the 2/3 required.
While serving as school board president in 2007, George brought school district and county officials together to discuss the idea of a new library to serve the schools and the community. These discussions led to a plan for a joint-use library, which was included in the school district bond proposal passed by the voters in 2008.
George won election to the City Council in 2008 and 2012. George worked to strengthen our community by getting residents more involved in city decision-making. He has supported initiatives to promote health and wellness, such as the development of a Health element in the community plan and a city policy that encourages community gardens. George also started discussions that led to the City's first Climate Action Plan.
Above: George, family, and friends celebrate the marriage of Charles Gastil and Michelle Hoskinson
The biggest overall concern in recent years has been the city budget. George worked closely with his council colleagues to keep essential city services going during the state budget crisis that dominated his first term in office. George worked closely with colleagues on the Council to develop coherent policies on handling reserve funds, and to pay off pension debt during improved economic times.
George is also a leader at the regional level. He served as the City's representative to the East County Economic Development Council (ECEDC) during most of his time on the Council. He also served as the Lemon Grove representative to the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and as the MTS representative to San Diego-Los Angeles-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency (LOSSAN). In previous years, George has served as the Lemon Grove representative to Helix Water District and as an alternate representative to the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).
George gave up his Council seat in 2016 to run for Lemon Grove Mayor. He earned broad support from many who have worked with him but came just 2% short of winning.
Above: George and friends on election nite.
Since leaving public office, George has continued to serve the community. He helped start the Lemon Grove Community Garden and also helped establish a strong local Lions Club.
Above: George ready to go to work.
George also serves as the Board Chair for Facilitating Access to Coordinated Transportation (FACT), an agency serving senior adults, persons with disabilities, and as others with needs that are not served by the regular transit system. During the current pandemic, FACT has been providing rides to unsheltered individuals who need specialized services, and also delivering food to people who cannot do the usual shopping.