SHEILA KUEHL, American actress, born; an American politician, and a former child actress she is best known, as an actress, for her portrayal of the “irrepressible” Zelda Gilroy in the long-running 1950s TV show The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. She is currently a Democratic member of the California State Senate, representing the highly urbanized 23rd district in Los Angeles County and parts of southern Ventura County. A former member of the California State Assembly, she was elected to the senate in 2000. Term limits prevented her seeking a third senate term in 2008.
Kuehl was first elected to the California State Assembly in 1994, becoming the first out LGBT person elected to the California legislature. She served as Speaker pro tempore during the 1997-98 legislative session, becoming the first woman in California history to hold the position. After three terms in the Assembly, she was elected to the California State Senate in 2000, beating Assemblyman Wally Knox in the Democratic primary. Re-elected in 2004 with 65.7% of the vote, she has repeatedly been voted the “smartest” member of the California Legislature by the California Journal.
In 2006, she sponsored a bill that would prohibit the adoption by any school district in California of any instructional material that discriminates against persons based on their gender or sexual orientation. Throughout her career as a legislator, Kuehl has taken a leadership role on healthcare policy. Her foremost objective has been securing passage of legislation to establish a single-payer healthcare system in California. SB 840 passed both houses of the legislature in 2006, but was vetoed by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; it was reintroduced in 2007 and again passed the state Senate, with a vote pending in the Assembly.
Term-limited from running for the Senate again, Kuehl ran for and became the first openly LGBT member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and took office in December 2014. The 3rd District covers western Los Angeles County, including the Westside, San Fernando, Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains.
Since joining the LA County Board of Supervisors, she has championed efforts to reduce homelessness, raise the minimum wage, establish LA County’s first affordable housing trust, and develop measures that will bring long-term environmental sustainability to the region.
In the past Kuehl had a ten-year romantic relationship with Torie Osborn and while admitting publicly that she was hurt at first over the break-up, she was over time able to gain perspective and became best friends with Osborn. Osborn went on to support Kuehl’s run for Supervisor and (having previously served as a deputy mayor in L.A.) joined her staff as principal deputy for strategy and policy.