A: When I started talking, I was fluent in Spanish and struggled with English. Now, I can fully comprehend Spanish, but my speech is broken. When we vacationed in Cozumel a few years ago, I used a combination of words and pantomime to tell the taxi driver I wanted to go to a discotheque where we could dance (“bailar”) and drink (“bebida”).
Q: What piqued your interest in a political career?
A: A 26-year-old state representative addressed my high school when I was a sophomore. He talked about a state law mandating seat belts that he'd helped pass, and I was hooked. A month later, I served as a page at the state capitol, and then went on to be elected vice president and president of my study body at East Central High School. I chose to attend UCO, largely because a statesman, Gov. George Nigh, worked there. That was before he was UCO president. I gave Gov. Nigh my dorm room number and asked him to give a young man a chance; that I'd take his car for an oil change, drive Mrs. Nigh to her hair appointment or do whatever. He called me soon afterward to drive him to a speech in Altus. I would have done it for free, but he paid me $3.50 an hour to chauffeur and run various errands for him. A year later, he introduced me to Gov. Walters, with whom I traveled and worked as an advance man.
Q: Did you ever aspire to run for office yourself?
A: I did. At age 20, I ran for House representative in District 75 and got my clock cleaned in the Democratic primary. I got 1,000 votes and my opponent got 2,000.
Q: You say you're a registered Republican today. What prompted your party switch?
A: I wanted to vote for my friend, state Rep. Mike Thompson, who represents parts of Northwest Oklahoma City, Bethany and Warr Acres. Plus, I have conservative beliefs.
Q: How did you get interested in lobbying?
A: Starting when I was a junior in college, I worked a few years as a field representative for the Oklahoma Credit Union League and, after working for Glen Johnson's campaign for the state House and a stint on the staff of former state Sen. Stratton Taylor, D-Claremore, came back to work for the league as a lobbyist. It was shortly afterward, some 15 years ago, that I formed my own government relations company (Capitol Gains LLC), lobbying not only for credit unions, but also now for some 24 other organizations. I enjoy working for diverse personalities and with a range of topics. The fun thing is when my work for Capitol Gains and the AOGC mesh, like when I can introduce the Creek Nation, who we represent and is building roads, to AOGC contractors.
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