NAME: Chris Shultz
JOB TITLE: chief of staff, Assemblyman Dave Jones
by Jessica Weidling
Capitol Weekly: How did you come to work for Assemblyman Dave Jones?
Chris Shultz: I worked for former Assemblymember Ted Lempert when he was on
the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. He was re-elected to the Assembly
in 1996, so I came with him.
Ted knocked on my parents’ front door when I was in college. I began by
volunteering and then I was hired on. We’re still in touch more than a dozen
years later. He came to my wedding.
I also was a lobbyist for two years for the American Electronics
Association. When Gray Davis was governor, I worked for the secretary for
education. After, I got the job working for Sen. Dede Alpert. Then I came
here to be chief of staff.
CW: What’s the gist of your job?
CS: I make the trains run on time for our office. Every day gets messed up in
some respect, and on the fly I need to put it back together. I do that right
99 percent of the time.
We’ve got an ambitious legislative agenda and we’ve got a big committee
staff. Because Assemblymember Dave Jones is from Sacramento, we also do a
lot of work in the district.
CW: Do you enjoy the fast-paced environment?
CS: I like being in the middle of everything. Occasionally, there is a slow day
where I get to read my news clips and get to deal with all my incoming
voicemails and e-mails. But that’s not normal. I like the fast pace.
CW: How did being a lobbyist compare to being a Capitol staffer?
CS: The hardest thing for me when I was a lobbyist is you’re always asking
people for something. But at a staff level, people are asking you for
something. It didn’t fit well with my personality.
I really have admiration for people who lobby day after day. So I try to be
respectful, because I know how hard that is. Everyone has a point of view,
and everyone deserves to be heard.
CW: We hear you’re leaving the Building soon. Why are you going and what’s your
CS: My wife, Ellen McCormick, and I are moving to Eugene, Ore., so she can get
her master’s degree in architecture at the University of Oregon.
I’ll be working at a 15-person PR/public-affairs/government-affairs firm in
Eugene. It’ll be a nice change. I’m looking forward to riding my bike to
work and having kind of a lower key lifestyle.
But I will miss all my friends. I’ve made a lot of friends here over 10
years. It’s nice to walk down the hall and say “hi” to everybody. And moving
somewhere where we don’t know anyone is going to be a challenge.
CW: Pulling from your decade-long experience here, what advice would you impart
to new staffers?
CS: One of the things I’ve tried to do is not have any permanent enemies; I’ve
always tried to maintain good relationships with people. I’ve done this by
trying to take nothing personally.
So, my advice to a new capitol staffer is to try to find people who know a
lot about an issue area and try to work with them on something.
You become known outside of your own office by working with key long-time
staffers. I would desperately try to get involved with an issue where you
get invited to those closed-door, late-night meetings.
And I think people should do something bipartisan. I play softball and
football with others who work in and around the Capitol. Those kinds of
relationships are beneficial over time because it helps when you need to
work with them and there’s a built-in level of trust. It keeps everyone on
the straight and narrow.
We hear you have a compilation of bill ideas. Can you share some with us?
Every year there are dozens of bills that are quite stupid because they are
just someone’s personal pet peeves. So my list is inspired by my own pet
One of the ones I thought up was no minivans in the fast lane. Ever.
Another of my favorites is radio stations must name the song and the artist
either immediately before, or immediately after, playing the song. Failure
to do so would result in no political-advertising revenue for the next
And the lastly, we could repeal campaign-finance limits, but require
legislators to wear a NASCAR-like jacket on the floor with the corporate or
other insignias of their five highest contributors. OK, that one’s not my
idea, but I think pretty great.