FROM LA TO D.C. Julia Romero Gusse

By Kent O’Jon

Julia Romero Gusse was born and raised in East Los Angeles. Her parents are both U.S. Naturalized Citizens originally from Mexico. Julia and her siblings are all first-generation American-born. Julia’s parents arrived in the states during the midst of the Vietnam War and were strict traditional Mexicans. Julia and her siblings were raised Roman Catholic (Julia’s children and grandchildren are being brought up in the same faith.) Julia’s first language is Spanish (her children are also fluent in Spanish). Julia enlisted in the United States Air Force upon high school graduation (age 17) and during her delayed enlistment, she qualified for the Dean’s list while compiling enough credits at East Los Angeles Community College to receive advanced rank upon basic training graduation.

Upon basic training graduation, she completed technical training at a Naval Installation in Florida as a Cryptologic Tech/Morse Code Operator. It was during training in Florida that she met her future husband Kevin Gusse (Navy Enlisted, married for 33 years this fall.)  Mrs Gusse received a Top-Secret Clearance and was assigned to the National Security Agency in Fort Meade Maryland.  Little did she know that she would be back in Maryland some 30 years later.  

Upon completion of their enlistments, the Gusse family moved to Southern California to be close to Julia’s family.Once their older children completed middle school, the Gusse family moved to Arizona.  The Gusse family moved to Maricopa in 2005 after living in Surprise Arizona for a year. The Gusses also bought a home in Chandler (which they still own) because they felt that if Maricopa was not going to be the ideal place, they wanted a backup plan in Chandler. In 2006 Julia started working for the Maricopa Unified School District as a substitute teacher while also working as a realtor (licensed since 2005).  In 2008, Julia applied and received a position with the City of Maricopa but that was short-lived when in 2009 she was laid off.  This was when Maricopa became the poster child for the housing bust and foreclosures were occurring everywhere.  

After experiencing city government, Julia knew she wanted to stay involved. She ran for City Council and was seated by June of 2010.  Julia states that her political journey was a bit of an accident: ” I was upset at the fact that I was better qualified than most in city hall, yet I was laid off.”  “I learned quickly how to get involved with all aspects of the city and it came easy since I had been involved with the school district and the city; the two largest employers in the city (at the time)” Julia states that she also faced discrimination, and racial attacks. During Julia’s two terms she fought to remove a councilmember accused of sexual harassment, filed a complaint with the Arizona attorney general, attempted to remove a councilman that received an extreme DUI, spoke the truth about the immaturity and bully tactics when a former councilman requested a vacated appointment and has been the only councilmember to face two code of ethics violation among other challenges. Julia goes on to state that in the 8.5 years she served on city council, she had the highest level of education than anyone on Council (at the time, the Mayor included). She is also the only Latina to serve in the city’s history, the only female veteran to serve, and the only former city employee to serve as an elected official for this municipality.  

On January 31, 2022, Julia Romero Gusse was sworn in as a Presidential Appointee, Senior Advisor for the Under Secretary of Benefits, Department of Veteran Affairs. She further states that it has been the” honor of her life” and I am now working in Washington D.C. for the President of the United States of America, and to work for United States Veterans! Julia is more than qualified for her present position, she worked for Veterans Upward Bound at Arizona State University for over five years as Coordinator and Director for the program. She states that to her surprise, her new office in Washington D.C. is just two city blocks away from the ASU D.C. Campus! As far as future goals, Julia hopes to complete another graduate degree someday, continue to stay involved somehow in Maricopa, and give her all to working with and for her brothers and sisters in uniform.  

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