This CPA turns sour on politics
Stewart Cilley loves his job and finds a kinship by dealing cards in a casino
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By Jud Snyder  March 21, 2014 12:00 am

Nobody these days tells Stewart J. Cilley, CPA, he should be running for Congress against incumbent Democrat Mike Thompson. Stu Cilley went down that route two years ago when he tried to convince Central Sonoma County Republican Committee power brokers that he had the best credentials to upset Thompson.

Well, this was the first election after redistricting rearranged all the political borders in the state, sowing confusion among candidates and political organizers. There was also another Republican running against Thompson, Randy Lofton, who said he graduated from West Point and had military decorations affixed to his uniform. Cilley did some research and contended Lofton never graduated from West Point but was asked to leave by academy supervisors. 

Then the GOP committees in Thompson’s revised district passed a rule that a GOP candidate had to have a unanimous vote to get on the ballot. Cilley claimed Lake County GOP officials nominated him. But he was elbowed aside; perhaps because those in power thought Lofton had more of a glamorous military background, i.e., more votes.

Of course it didn’t work out that way in 2012, but the manner in which he was pushed around by political “allies” still rankles him. 

Cilley’s still a fervent Republican in his opinions, but he’s not an enthusiastic joiner of political organizations overflowing with unified agreement on state or national issues.

“I’m a Tenth Amendment kind of guy,” Cilley said. “This is the one that gives power to the states and the people and tells everyone a smaller government is better. Mike Thompson’s a big government kind of guy and should be providing a vital service to people. I say this attitude is part of the problem.”

Like this Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, it’s an invasion of the free marketplace,” he said. “The problem with Washington is there are too many people in Congress whose only claim to fame is they know how to get re-elected, time and again. Nancy Pelosi’s a good example of this talent. I can look at Ted Cruz and get excited about the ideas he’s proposing for a smaller government.”

Cilley has a few villains and heroes. 

His No. 1 villain is Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Lyndon Johnson and numerous government agencies he feels are getting in the way of the free enterprise system such as the EPA, NOAA, OHSA and other initial-bound functionaries who have all “overstepped their boundaries year after year.”

“One of my jobs here in Sonoma County was working for Pisenti and Brinker, the big accounting firm and power behind the work of Republicans all over the Bay Area,” Cilley said. “I knew Bill Pisenti, for he was one of my heroes. He refused to accept his Social Security checks from the government. It was his way of protesting.”

For a guy who says he doesn’t like to be employed by a big company, he nevertheless dipped into a job with the Graton Resort and Casino out there on formerly Wilfred Avenue, now laboring under a larger moniker of Golf Course Drive West. He’s part time on the 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift at the poker and blackjack tables. 

“It works out nice. I have time weekday afternoons to do my tax preparation work for my clients,” says Cilley. “I’ve found out Sonoma County has a highly educational population slant. They don’t all come to the casinos, but I can tell the ones that do. In a sense, gambling in a casino is a facet of free enterprise, doing what you want to do with your money, have fun with it or abuse the privilege. There’s no big government telling you what to do.”

Cilley was born in New Hampshire, but his family moved west when he was only six months old. They settled in several cities in California, and Cilley graduated from Novato High School in 1977, already interested in the world of math and accounting. 

This led to San Jose State University and a BS in Business Administration, jobs as a CPA in St. Helena, Silicon Valley, Cupertino, Novato and Santa Rosa. 

He’s no longer married but shares parental duties with his former wife and their six children, aged 16 to 30, and as yet, no grandchildren. He lives in Rohnert Park’s A Section.

“Big government is not the way to go. Individual states and the people who live and work there are the losers,” Cilley contends.

He knows Republicans in Sonoma County, the bluest county (aside from San Francisco) in a mostly blue coastal area from Crescent City to San Diego, are always in a struggle for a bigger voice.  After a conversation with him, you get the image Cilley secretly enjoys the challenge.

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