So, why politics? It wasn’t exactly on the top of my list.

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So here is a story. I was asked today how did I get involved in politics. I remember that I first became aware of politics during the infamous Watergate hearings when I was a child—my mother had them on all the time on the TV in the hotel rooms and on the radio in the car as we were moving across country from Mount Pleasant, SC, to San Diego, CA in May and June of 1973. That first introduction wasn’t exactly positive.

Tricky DickyI also remember the day when President Nixon resigned because I remember my mother cried, as she stood before the TV, just as she had when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated when I was very young. 

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I then remember following the 1976 Presidential race myself between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and as I recall, Hawaii (where I lived at the time) played a crucial part in Jimmy Carter’s win. I felt it was a loss and was just not so sure politics was for me.

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I did get involved in “local” politics during my Senior Year at Radford High School in Honolulu, HI. I got involved in Student Council and the Assembly & Award’s Committee for the entire year. I had a blast. I found out it could be fun, I liked organizing events, and I found politics in the end was about people, perhaps even more than issues (in the photo above  right I look like I am having a  good time handing out leis at an assembly). But I still did not think politics was for me. Things were looking quite dark as I graduated from high school. As Bob Dylan would write years later, “it’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.” It was really feeling like America’s best years were behind us.

Then, in November 13, 1979, I was a freshman in college at Seattle Pacific University. I was sitting in my dorm room that evening and switched on a little black and white TV. Ronald Reagan was making a speech. I remember I was riveted. For me it was an epiphany. As I watched the speech, where he just stood in a living room and talked to the American people like we were friends, explaining his vision and why he was going to run for President, I felt as though it a light of hope was lit inside me. As I watched his speech I made a decision right there to change everything. I changed the course of my life that night. I left Seattle, went back to Washington, volunteered in his campaign and that started it all. I was 18 years old.

Here’s a video of the speech that he made that night in November all those years ago.