Orange County Executive Neuhaus sits down with News 12 for 1st time since return from Iraq

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Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus has returned from Iraq, and sat down with News 12’s Blaise Gomez for a special edition of Power & Politics.

Neuhaus served double duty for six months, fighting in Islamic State hot-spots in Iraq as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves, while overseeing Orange County.

He said he didn’t let thousands of miles get in the way of his two jobs.

"I had a laptop with me. I was able to Facetime every day. Emails were coming through every day with the county. Harry Porr did a phenomenal job in my absence running the county,” he says.

Neuhaus spent six months with a special operations team assigned to help Iraq maintain control over Iranian forces and Islamic State militants in Operation Inherent Resolve.

"Iranian influence was a major problem there and is a major problem there. So I understand what the administration and Congress are addressing, but ISIS fighters are bad guys. They don't believe in women's rights, they kill people indiscriminately - butcher people, children,” he says.

Neuhaus said that no time went to waste during his time in Iraq.

“It just kept myself busy and the county helped me do that so I have to say, I didn't sit there and wonder a lot. I was constantly going,” he says.

The father of four isn't wasting any time getting back to his family, either. He surprised his children in late June at their school for a tear-filled reunion, just hours after landing on U.S. soil.

Politically, his focus is now on economic development.

“We need to continue to have revenues coming in. So, economic development seems to be that really successful avenue, whether it be Woodbury Commons or Legoland coming online,” he says.

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