Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro is serving his final year in the California State Legislature. A resident of Arcata in Humboldt County, he represents the Second Assembly District, which stretches from Bodega Bay to the Oregon border, encompassing all of Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt, and Mendocino counties, plus Northern and Coastal Sonoma County, including about half the City of Santa Rosa.
In his long career in public service, Assemblymember Chesbro has served in both houses of the California Legislature and on the California Integrated Waste Management Board, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors and the Arcata City Council.
Mr. Chesbro has been a passionate advocate for the environment for more than four decades. In the Legislature he has authored legislation to increase recycling and reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, a major producer of greenhouse gases. He also authored or helped pass landmark legislation to preserve California's forests and to bring environmentalists and the timber industry over sustainable forestry practices.
Other issues important to Mr. Chesbro include increasing Californian's access to education and health care, especially in rural communities, protecting services for veterans and ensuring that those with physical and developmental disabilities have the resources they need to lead quality lives.
Mr. Chesbro moved from Southern California to the North Coast as a teen-ager in 1969 to attend Humboldt State College in Arcata. Even before he won his first election to public office, Chesbro devoted much of his time fighting for the environment. One of his earliest political victories was spearheading a campaign to convince Humboldt County voters to reject a proposal build a dam on the Mad River and flood the Butler Valley, east of Humboldt Bay.
Chesbro cofounded the Arcata Community Recycling Center in 1971 and served as its first director. The ACRC was one of earliest community recycling centers in California and remained in existence for 40 years – long after most others had closed.
Chesbro also cofounded the Northcoast Environmental Center and served as its first executive director. He also helped defeat the peripheral canal, fought to save local open space and has championed coastal protection laws, including being a leader in the fight against off-shore oil drilling off the North Coast of California.
Chesbro won his first election at age 22 in 1974, when voters in Arcata elected him to the City Council. He won re-election in 1978. In 1980 he was elected to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, representing District 3, and won re-election in 1984 and 1988.
After 10 years of service on the Board of Supervisors, in 1990 the California State Senate appointed Chesbro to serve as an inaugural member of the California Integrated Waste Management Board. The CIWMB was a first-of-its-kind body that had great success implementing the nation's most comprehensive recycling law (AB 939, passed in 1989), which made California the leader in recycling and diverting waste away from landfills.
In 1998 Chesbro ran for the State Senate in District 2, defeating an opponent who substantially out-spent him. He won re-election to the Senate in 2002. During his eight-year tenure in the Senate, Chesbro chaired the Senate's Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, Health and Human Services Committee, Standing Committee on Revenue and Taxation, and the Select Committees on California's Wine Industry. He also served as a member of the following committees: Education, Environmental Quality, Governmental Organization, Health, Human Services, and Veterans Affairs.
While in the Senate, Chesbro authored legislation to maintain funding for rural community clinics, protect California's natural resources, guarantee individuals with special needs have adequate housing, establish incentives for recycling, and ensure rural law enforcement agencies are fully funded.
After finishing two terms in the Senate in 2006, Mr. Chesbro was once again appointed to the California Integrated Waste Management Board. He also served on the California Mental Health Oversight and Accountability Commission and as a board member for Open Door Community Health Centers and the Humboldt Bay Housing and Development Corporation.
In November 2008, voters on the North Coast again elected Chesbro to the Legislature, this time the State Assembly, District One. Voters re-elected Chesbro in 2010, and again in 2012 to the new District Two, created by re-districting.
In the Assembly, Chesbro currently serves as chair of the Natural Resources Committee, the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Select Committee on Disabilities and the Select Committee on Wine. He currently serves on Assembly's Budget Committee, Governmental Organization Committee, Health Committee and the Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.
Chesbro and his wife Cindy have been married for more than 30 years and are the parents of two sons, Alan and Colin.