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Interview With State Representative Mike Nearman
How to get involved in politics

We sat down with State Representative Mike Nearman and had a conversation about what he thinks young people should do who want a career in politics, either as an elected official, or just to support others in the process.

Northwest Observer: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. How did you get your start in politics?

State Representative Mike Nearman: I've always been interested in politics, but only later in life, in my 40s did I start to get involved in a deeper way. I first became a Republican PCP in 2011 and in 2012 I became a county party chair. From there, I was first elected to the Legislature in 2014.

NWO: That seems like a pretty fast rise. Is that normal?

Nearman: No, not really. I was asked to run for party chair and for the legislature, so I had a lot of really good people supporting me, and in the case of the legislature, some money and a political operation behind me. I think people saw me as a hard-working, principled person who was willing to be a public person, and that made me attractive as both a candidate and a leader.

NWO: How do you like the part about being such a public person?

Nearman: It's not as bad as you might think. Then again, I'm only a State Representative and I'm not really a household name. You can't be completely shy and be in this business. I joke all the time that I'm a Software Engineer and I don't have enough social skills to actually do this job, but you have to have a little bit of ham in you -- some might call it ego -- to be able to stand the public scrutiny and do some of the public speaking that the job requires.

NWO: What kind of education would you recommend for someone who wants to make a career of public office?

Nearman: Well, I have a degrees in Philosophy and Computer Science. No one field of study is going to prepare you to serve in public office. At least in the legislature -- and I assume the same is true for city and county government -- you have to be an expert in so many things that it's more important to be mentally nimble and have good judgment than to be highly educated. Some legislators don't even have degrees, which I think is fine. If you didn't know who they were, you'd have a hard time picking them out.

NWO: What do you think of Political Science as a field of study?

Nearman: That's OK, but honestly, it might be better to take that on as a minor field of study and major in something a little more useful, like maybe marketing, graphic design, or -- if I can be a little self-serving -- Computer Science. Then you have something that can put food on your plate, as well as develop some skills that can help the cause along the way. As a guy with one useful degree and one that's not-so-useful, I'm a big fan of useful degrees. The other ones are good for minors. Whenever I meet someone who is studying, say Petroleum Engineering with a minor in Music, I think, "There's a person with really good judgment."

NWO: What other things can an up-and-coming politician do?

Nearman: I think the most important thing is to get involved in government, even at the most basic levels. Almost every level of government has a budget committee that is appointed by the governing body, and they often have vacant seats. These are great positions to take for several reasons. First, you'll get some real hands-on experience in government, and while your presence may not be the pinnacle of power, you may be able to have an impact on policy. Second, you'll learn a lot. You'll learn about parliamentary procedure, ethics laws, and how decisions get made. You see in real time, how the bureaucracy interacts with the elected officials. Third, you'll build your resume, which is important. Remember, when you see the voters' pamphlet, there are only two required fields: Education and Prior Government Experience. Don't leave this one blank.

NWO: What about party politics?

Nearman: Party politics, like your local county Republican party, is a great way to develop relationships and to keep an ear to the ground as far as what is going on. It's great to work as a volunteer on the campaign of some elected official. You'll learn a lot and the official will be very grateful for your support, which could pay off later. Campaign work is fun and a great place to meet people.

NWO: Do you have any other advice?

Nearman: Yeah. It's kind of obvious, but keep your nose clean and try to keep the felonies to a minimum. That's one thing. The other is that political operations are always looking for high-quality people to run for office. Do what it takes to make yourself a high-quality person and hang out in the right places, and they will find you. If you're young -- and I mean under 40, you have a huge advantage.

One other thing. Politics is sometimes hard on families, so make sure you take care of the loved ones around you. You might think this is fun, but they may not have picked this life, so if they need some space, give it to them.

Like I kind of said before it's hard to set goals in politics. So much of what you can do is based on opportunity. Rather than set goals about what office you want to hold by what age, I'd focus more on being ready, willing and prepared to consider opportunities as they arise. I think you need to listen to God and ask him what his will is and take direction from that. Keep praying.

NWO: Thanks for your time, Representative Nearman.

Nearman: Sure!


--Editor

Post Date: 2020-06-20 18:35:49Last Update: 2020-09-26 15:16:21



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