I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, the youngest of three kids. I could say that means I was raised with Midwestern values, but I learned my values from my parents, and they weren’t from the Midwest – that’s just where they settled. My mom and dad lived their values, and we kids saw it every day: integrity, love, idealism, a nonstop work ethic.
We had a comfortable middle-class life, yet my parents knew we needed to learn the value of hard work and of challenging ourselves. My sister, my brother and I all got jobs during high school. I hit the legal working age of 16 as my senior year began and started working at a grocery store. I still remember struggling to push more than four or five carts in from the parking lot at once!
For me, work ethic translated into expecting more of myself and driving relentlessly toward whatever goal was at hand. Or maybe it was just my competitive nature.
In my late teens, I was certain I absolutely knew everything and needed to share my wisdom with everyone else. But how? I’d been a political junkie since a young age – I even made my dad take me to a Jesse Jackson rally when I was 13 – so I gave journalism a try.
It turned out to be the right career to put to use my insatiable curiosity, my perfectionism and my willingness to outwork everyone else.
During my time in journalism, I spent a decade in major media markets, and an important part of what we did was expose corrupt politicians and shine a light on wasteful, inefficient government. It was no surprise to me that multiple reporters I worked with went on to (very deservedly) win the Pulitzer Prize.
Needing a new challenge, I eventually left journalism behind to work in “the real world.” I dedicated myself to learning a new industry from the ground up, and that culminated in operating a small business with dozens of employees.
Now I’m taking the skills I learned along the way in both careers, as well as the values my parents taught me so many years ago – integrity, love, idealism, work ethic – to the campaign trail. If anything can fix our broken and corrupt political system, it’s that!
I’ve been blessed to have had my wife Tonja with me along so much of this journey. We were college sweethearts, and just recently celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. She has made me a better person in more ways than I can count and is my biggest source of inspiration, particularly for this campaign. We are grateful for all our blessings over the years, even for the struggles and pain that come with the human condition and that sometimes impart true wisdom.
We never expected to make our lives in California, but this is our 15th year living in Corona, and it’s definitely home.