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April 21, 2004

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Publication Date: Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Power Pair: Gonella and Taylor keep public service lively Power Pair: Gonella and Taylor keep public service lively (April 21, 2004)

By Rebecca Wallace
Almanac Staff Writer

Considering all the good it can do, it's a shame that the phrase "public service" sounds so dry.

But people who know Margaret Taylor and Floyd Gonella say they're anything but.

"We live two doors away from them in Atherton," says U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo. "Their home is always a joyful place. Margaret loves to party. Floyd is a great barbecuer. He's a terrific partner with her, whatever they do."

Just because the two have had long careers in education and health care doesn't mean they have one-track minds. Ms. Taylor helped start a bank, the United American Bank in San Mateo, and is chairman of the board of directors.

Mr. Gonella, meanwhile, dreams of the stage. He has taken acting classes and hopes to pursue acting as a hobby.

"A good teacher is a good actor. A teacher is a good presenter and entertaining," he says, adding that he's drawn to the challenge of comedy theater, where you need "the right inflection of your voice, or your body language, to get a laugh."

And even the most driven public servant isn't above a good practical joke every now and then.

San Mateo County Supervisor Rich Gordon bursts into laughter when he recalls having a meeting with Ms. Taylor about AIDS prevention and whether schools ought to be making condoms available on campus.

"The public health department had a huge fishbowl full of condoms as part of a public health campaign. ... Margaret said, 'We need to get Floyd involved,' so she took a whole bunch of condoms home and put them in Floyd's coat pocket," Mr. Gordon says.

"The next day Floyd is in Hillsborough to give a graduation speech at a middle school, and he reaches into his pocket to get his speech. All of a sudden he finds these condoms," Mr. Gordon says, chuckling. "We actually were effective in getting condoms on school campuses."


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