A New Path

After nearly three decades of public service, most recently as chairman of the state Board of Equalization, George Runner, center, is retiring.

After more than 27 years in elected office, George Runner is ready to retire.

Runner and wife Pamela will hit the road in their RV for a “friends and family” tour of the United States.

“Just going to enjoy some time and seeing people who have been important to me over the years,” Runner said Tuesday in a telephone interview from his home in Sacramento.

Runner most recently served two terms on the state Board of Equalization. He was first elected in 2010, and reelected in 2014. Runner represented District 1 and served as chairman of the board last year. Members of the Board of Equalization are limited to two terms.

“I decided that there just wasn’t anything else in terms of elected office that I was interested in running for,” Runner said.

Runner added he also was not interested in setting up a consulting business or anything like that.

“I just determined that this would be a good time to step away,” Runner said.

Prior to his election on the Board of Equalization Runner served as a state senator from 2004 to 2010. From 1996 to 2002, Runner served as a state assemblyman. Runner also served on the Lancaster City Council. He was first elected in 1992. He served as Lancaster’s vice mayor from 1994–95 and as mayor from 1995 to 1996, when the position rotated among the five council members.

Runner authored legislation that created the state’s Amber Alert law.

The Amber Alert system was first used in August 2002 when Antelope Valley teenagers Tamara Brooks and Jacqueline Marris were abducted near the Quartz Hill water towers. Thanks to the Amber Alert and a Caltrans employee who was listening to the radio, the two girls were rescued 12 hours after being kidnapped.

“It certainly was very significant because it was first applied when two young ladies from the Antelope Valley were kidnapped,” Runner said. “So I think that would probably be the most important piece of legislation that has had long-term impact.”

Runner also authored legislation that allowed solo motorists to drive in the carpool, or high-occupancy vehicles, lanes on the Antelope Valley Freeway during non-peak hours. In Northern California, carpool lanes are only operational on a part-time basis Monday through Friday during posted peak congestion hours. In Southern California carpool lanes are in effect full-time, meaning 24 hours a day, seven

days a week.

“I always enjoyed being able to get that in lane when I know that in the past you couldn’t do that,” Runner said.

Runner added he has always been involved in public safety issues, in particular with children’s safety.

He and his late wife, Sharon Runner, were the first married couple to serve concurrently in the state Legislature, doing so from 2004 to 2008.

“The Antelope Valley trusted us to the point that they sent both Sharon and me up to represent them,” Runner said. “That was a real personal honor, humbling honor, a privilege that was historic at that point,” Runner said.

Sharon served in the state Assembly from 2002 to 2008 and then in the state Senate from 2011 to 2012 and again starting in March 2015 until her death in July 2016. In 2006 the Runners co-authored Jessica’s Law, which became one of the nation’s most restrictive laws governing sex offenders.

“Ultimately I guess what I enjoy doing most is meeting constituent needs — being able to help them through the battle that they have with state government — and particularly over the last eight years on the Board of Equalization helping them battle tax agencies, making sure taxpayers get a fair shake when it comes to battling with the state.

Last year Runner joined the 40th anniversary celebration of Desert Christian Schools, the private school he founded with Sharon.

Runner said he and Pamela are looking forward to his friends and family tour.

“We just have lot of people across the country who are part of my life at different times, through Desert Christian Schools, sometimes through city council, sometimes through the Legislature, that we just want to be able to spend some time with and share and say thanks,” Runner said.

The grand tour will include a trip to Florida to visit Runner’s daughter Rebekah, her husband and their three children. Runner’s son Micah lives in the Sacramento area, where he is the economic developer for the city of Stockton.

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