How did you end up in Visalia?
I was born in Exeter, raised in Woodlake and Porterville, and moved to Visalia after law school. I considered Visalia to be the “big city” and was thankful to get my first job as an attorney with Hurlbutt, Clevenger, Long & Vortmann.

How did you get your start in this line of work?
As a freshman in high school, I was assigned to research three careers in a career development class. One of those careers involved the law, and I determined at that time to become a lawyer. As to the city council, my college undergraduate degree was in political science. When my children were teenagers, they encouraged me to run for the city council because I was hanging around the house too much! Besides wanting to volunteer my time and having certain goals for the city, I ran the first time to see if I could get elected, and the second time to see if I could get re-elected!

Why are you passionate about your work?
As both a lawyer and as the mayor, I have a unique opportunity to help other people and affect their lives. My job as an attorney allows me time to spend with my family, church, and community.

What is the most challenging thing about your job?
The most challenging thing is coordinating my schedule between family, law, and the city. I’m a very organized individual, but on occasion I do feel like I’m performing a juggling act!

Tell us about a single moment when you realized this was the right occupation for you.
When I arrived in Visalia 35 years ago as a newlywed to take my first legal job, I wondered if I would last a month! As a young attorney, I didn’t know what area of the law I wanted to practice. I was handed a small case for around $3,000 and was able to collect all the money that my business client was owed. The client praised me, telling me that I was the first attorney who had ever collected more for him than what the attorney had charged him! From there, my business grew by word of mouth; I’ve never had to advertise.

If you had to choose another career, what would it be?
If I wasn’t a lawyer, I’d choose to be mayor. If I wasn’t the mayor, I’d choose to be a lawyer. I come from a family of schoolteachers and would have been a great teacher. I taught some political science classes at COS years ago.

Tell us a little about life outside of work:
Hobbies include gardening, travel, local history, and racquet sports. I’ve been a boy scout leader for 35 years. Alisa and I are the proud parents of five terrific kids, four of whom are currently in college, and grandparents of two. As each of our children studied a foreign language in high school, I took them to a country that spoke that particular language, and enjoyed seeing the world that way.

What is something most people don’t know about you?
I grew up in a large family that had lots of love but not much money; I was number six out of seven kids; I’ve had more jobs than I can count (paperboy, field laborer, gardener, bus driver, grocery store clerk, golf course maintenance, etc.) by which I paid my own way through college; the TV shows I watch are “Survivor” and “Dancing With the Stars” (although I haven’t been selected for either yet!); I’m an aspiring writer, and speak Japanese from living in Okinawa and Japan for two years as a young missionary.

What about Visalia makes this a great community to live and work in?
Our children were all born and raised in Visalia and attended Visalia public schools. It is a family-oriented community with friendly people and neighbors. Visalia had 57,000 people when we first arrived here in 1983, and our family and business have grown with it.

Just for fun, if you were stranded on an island, what three objects would you take with you?

  1. My wife Alisa, she is the “object” of my affection.
  2. A sharp knife. I spent a month living in the desert for a college survival course and learned that if you take nothing else, take a knife.
  3. A cell phone, so I could call for help!