Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Political Notebook: Flad retires after long career as political staffer

Political staffers are the powers behind the throne, but they often toil in anonymity. And then they retire.

Few, however, can claim the political résumé of Fresno resident Janene Flad.

Stretching back to Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater’s unsuccessful 1964 presidential campaign, Flad, 72, has worked for a long line of Republicans leading up to Linda Halderman, who finished her first term Nov. 30 and decided not to seek reelection.

Flad long called Bakersfield home, but back in 1964, she and her husband were in Wisconsin. The work for Goldwater hooked the young Flad — who was 24 at the time — on politics.

Returning to Bakersfield, she worked on Bob Mathias’ 1966 congressional campaign, and then in 1968 for a Bakersfield Republican named Kent Stacey.

But Flad ended up so disappointed in Stacey that she did something almost unthinkable — in 1970, she worked for a Democrat and helped that person beat Stacey.

Then, in 1972, she worked for Atascadero Republican Bob Nimmo and helped him beat the Democrat she helped elect two years earlier.

Following a seven-year Coalinga stint spent outside politics — “There’s absolutely no political activity over there at all,” she says. “It was awful” — she and her husband moved back to Bakersfield where she worked for the Kern County Republican Central Committee and for Assembly Member Don Rogers, who was seeking a state Senate seat.

In 1992, Flad’s husband was asked to come preach to a congregation in Fresno, so they moved north. Flad worked in the private sector for three years before finding her political calling again, not as a campaign worker, but in constituent services.

Flad worked for Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, state Sen. Chuck Poochigian, R-Fresno, and Assembly Member Mike Villines, R-Clovis, helping people navigate the Byzantine world of government bureaucracy.

The only break from that type of work was a stint with Bill Simon’s unsuccessful 2002 gubernatorial campaign.

Flad finished up working two years for Halderman before calling it a career last Friday.

And here’s what she’s learned:

“The main thing is that people don’t pay attention to who their elected official is until it is time to vote, and they are so easily influenced that they don’t dig in to find out what these people stand for.”

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