Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Interview with Former California State Assemblyman Mike Villines

When I first decided to build, I knew that I wanted to interview people in the hardcore music scene and talk to them about being positive and drug free. A family friend - former Minority Leader in the California State Assembly, Mike Villines - may not be a musician and I am pretty sure he would not like hardcore music, but he is a really positive guy. I thought it would be cool to talk to somebody who really knows how government runs.

PMAKid: What are your three favorite books and why are they your favorites?

Mike Villines:
1. Atlas Shrugged. I love this book because it focuses on human nature, economics and government/private sector. It also is a gripping read.

2. Reluctant Rebels. A great book and dynamic read of the founding of our country.

3. Trinity. A great historical read of Irish history and a great character in Conor Larkin. I liked the Character so much that our first born is named Conor after the character.

4. Dancing Bear. I added a fourth book because this book, “The Dancing Bear” is a great book on California Politics and a must read on old time politics in California.

PMAKid: What are your three favorite songs and why are they your favorites?

Mike Villines:
1. Mercy Me; Homesick. It reminds me of my mom who I miss.
2. Mercy Me; Beautiful. Same thing as above. It makes me think of my mom in heaven healthy and beautiful and not sick and in pain here on earth.
3. Third Day; Thief. Classic song to live by.

PMAKid: Until last year, you were a California Assemblyman and you also ran for California Insurance Commissioner. Now that you are no longer a politician, do you miss it? Was it a hard job? I know you had to travel all over the place and did not get to see your family all the time.

Mike Villines: I loved being elected and it was an honor to serve the Central Valley and the State of California. However, there is a season for everything and that season is over for me. I don’t miss it and I am very excited to invest more time into my wife and kids since I missed that for the better part of 8 years.

PMAKid: When you were in the State Assembly, you were the Republican Leader and had to work with Governor Schwarzenegger and the other three leaders to get budgets passed. My dad says that you had to make some hard decisions and some republicans got mad at you because of the budget. What was it like to work with the Governor and the other people? Did it make you mad when some people got angry at you for that budget?

Mike Villines: Working as Republican Leader in California is interesting in and of itself (since we are a liberal state), but add working with Governor Schwarzenneger and it was a wild ride. I enjoyed getting to know the Governor and my other colleagues.

In regards to the budget and people getting mad, it never bothered me. You have to know going into politics that any given time half of the people are going to be mad at you. For me, I focused on doing what I thought was best for the state and my constituents and didn’t worry about the criticism. Either lead in strength and humility or get out of the way is how I looked at it.

PMAKid: I saw the video on your website ( where you got the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award. How cool was it to get a reward named after President Kennedy? Can you tell me more about why you got that award?

Mike Villines: It was really cool getting the Profile in Courage Award. It was neat to be a part of history and it was fun to receive it with my colleagues and friends (Dave, Karen and Darrell). We got the award for making a decision that was unpopular but was made to help others (not for our own gain). It also serves an example to folks that leadership isn’t easy and it doesn’t mean being popular either. Those are important lessons for future and current leaders.

PMAKid: Now that you are not a politician anymore, what are you doing?

Mike Villines: I am building a new company. I have done this once before I was elected with a group of partners. This time I am building it alone. I do government and public relations.

I am also doing all my kids activities: volleyball, soccer, swimming, school-work. I am also reconnecting with tennis and biking, which I used to do a lot and Chris and I have started rowing too.

PMAKid: My dad says that you are one of the most positive guys he has ever met. When really bad things happen (like somebody dying or something else really bad), how do you try to stay positive?

Mike Villines: I accept that life is hard often. I try and remember that what really matters is our relationship with God, our families and our friends. I also try and remember that being a servant to others who are hurting is the best way to heal from loss and help us to grow our own faith. And this may seem weird, but I try and listen to music and read books that uplift me all the time so I can better handle tough times and really enjoy good times.

PMAKid: I thought it was really cool and fun to go to that Sacramento Rivercats baseball game with your family and Ivan's family a couple months ago. Do you go to a lot of baseball games? What is your favorite team?

Mike Villines: We had a great time with you, your buddy and your dad too. We don’t get to as many games as we would like but we love Rivercats games. We are from Fresno, so we love the Fresno Grizzlies and the SF Giants.

PMAKid: My school has had a really hard time with budget cuts. The Principal and teachers do a really good job even with a lot less money. What do you think needs to be done for education in Caalifornia?

Mike Villines: That is a huge question that is tough to answer. It isn’t as easy as just saying more money because there is a lot of money in the system. We need reforms, more targeted funds to kids in the classroom, empower teachers to teach, Inspire kids to learn, stop teaching to tests only and bring respect from students back into the classroom so there can be a healthy learning environment. Most importantly, parents cannot leave it to schools only to educate their kids; parents must be involved daily in their kids lives teaching them to be good students and good people and demanding good study habits and good grades.

PMAKid: How do you teach your kids to be Drug Free?

Mike Villines: We try and show the kids that bad decisions have bad outcomes. My wife always tells the kids, “The actions you take today dictate the life you lead tomorrow.” By showing examples of others who have made bad decisions and their outcomes, we hope our kids will develop their own ability to say no to bad decisions and to not worry about being popular or giving into peer pressure or bullying. These things are easier said than done but we are proud of our kids and pray for them always!

Julian, great questions buddy. Good luck on this important work you are doing pal. One person can change the world and you are well on your way. God bless, Mike.

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