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Legislative Watch

John Lee

 John Lee

District: Clark No. 1
Political Party: Democrat
Current Job/Position: Businessman
Born: 1955
Hometown:
Family: Wife Marilyn Ruesch Lee, children Crystaline Lueck, John Jason (Buck) Lee, Summer Alger, Blake Lee, Casey Lee, Lacey Lee, Alana Lee
Education: Rancho High School, Las Vegas
Interviewed By: Amanda Kunzia
Interview Date: 4/17/2007

Q & A

Q - What led you to get into politics?

“I got appointed to a few community organizations like the City of Las Vegas Water Authority Board and the Parks and Recreation Board. I kept hearing about this group called the “Legislature” that did this or didn’t do that and it inspired me to figure out who these people were. After I found out who they were and what they did I said, 'That’s where I want to be. That’s where the real decisions are made.' I climbed up from community service I guess.”



Q - What other jobs did you have leading up to this one (including as a kid)?

“I’ve always been a working kid. I always had a paper route or always mowed yards or did anything to support myself because my family just didn’t have the income. I was a dishwasher for quite a few years and a busboy. Then I got into plumbing. I learned how to dig a trench real good and once you do that pretty well, they teach you how to become a plumber and I did that. Then I did construction for a little while and became the Senior Vice-President for a financial services company. I was working so many nights that I wasn’t going to any of my kids wrestling matches, track meets or anything so I went and bought a plumbing company and got back into plumbing. Since then I’ve bought a limousine company and I own Champion Tile Marble in Las Vegas. There is a lot of different business ventures. I kind of built myself up and made something of myself I guess.”



Q - Did you always want to be doing what you’re doing now?

“I just know that my mom knew everyone in town who was elected and she knew who they were because we had a little local newspaper.Every time we’d see someone who was elected she’d point to them and say,“There’s Judge so and so,” or “There’s City Councilman so and so.” For some reason my mom was impressed with these people so then I became, as a young person, impressed with these people and I guess it was just important to me to be involved in my community. I don’t know…I guess I’m just living my mother’s dream sometimes.”



Q - What are your goals for your regular career or personally?

“I run my companies pretty much John proof, which means I have really great partners and I’m able to concentrate on my businesses into the future, not the day to day stuff. I’m actually getting to the point now in my life that I’m looking at spending more time with my wife then I am with my businesses. Sometimes your businesses become your mistresses if you’re not careful. I’m probably to the point in my life now where I’m strategically planning more time away with my wife and going and doing different things. Maybe it sounds selfish but I’ve worked almost two jobs for 30 years.”



Q - What are your hobbies or interests?

“I love anything in the outdoors. I just hiked Mt. Weinerand Mt. Whitney this past year. I just rode mybicycle from South Lake Tahoe across Nevada to Utahin September. I love getting out and hiking, riding my mountain bike and ridingmy road bike and enjoying the outdoors.”



Q - What unusual events have you been involved in, or unusual or memorable people have you met?

“I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve been able to serve. I think the reason that is, is because I already have a career so I’m not up here trying to learn a new trade that might parlay into something else. I’ve always been satisfied with my own personal life. Every minute has been a great minute. I think some of the bills you get involved with – like I did a bill to put all the bus shelters together in Clark County so we could start building bus shelters throughout the whole valley rather than independently. Some of those personal things that you really get invested in probably to other people aren’t as important as they are to you, but the planning and following through to see things come to fruition is really the exciting part.” 



Q - What are your keys to success?

“90 percent of success in anything you do is partly due to the person you marry. I think my wife saw me and said, ‘I can make something out of him,’ and has been a great person for me to be married to. To marry someone who shares your dreams and your goals and who at the same time is your best friend. To be able to be grounded enough in your church. To have a family that you love to be with and that you wake up everyday to show your wife that you still have what it takes to impress her. I think in my life that’s been the basic core. Then in the business side of my life I started a bank with some guys. Just a lot of things. I think there is a certain few adages in life. Either you work for somebody or you work for yourself and you make that decision somewhere about what’s going to make you the happiest. You really are willing to take the risks of doing business for yourself. I think just finding that inner piece of who you are. Just go do it and don’t worry about what everybody else thinks.”



Q - What are your favorite causes outside of government?

“I love, without a doubt, the Boy Scouts of America. In my young life it was so influential so to this day I'm in our council in Las Vegas; I’m responsible for all the activities outside of camping stuff. I understand I have a core group of people who work with me, volunteers and professional staff but I love an organization that teaches and helps people. I think the Boy Scouts of America does the finest job with young men. I love my church and I love my faith. I do my religious duties as well but my heart is with the Boy Scouts.”



Q - Who or what were your inspirations?

“When I grew up in North Las Vegas, I saw a lime like two times in my life. I knew there were rich people out there but I didn’t know any rich people. I went to Rancho High School and pretty much the way my family operated: you went to high school, you get the diploma, you buy a truck, you get married, you buy a house and then raise a family. There are really no goals or no vision that I ever grew up with. I saw people who made money I just didn’t know how they did it. I think I found early in life that if you’re smart, you’re best friends are books. Nothing changes in your life except for the people you meet and the books your read. Those are the only things that really change you. I started reading autobiographies of all these very wealthy people because I knew with that wealth came financial freedom and independence. My greatest people that I looked up to I read about in books. I must have read 20 autobiographies about all kinds of people. What they did and how they did it. From each book I drew a core of something that I took into my life. Who motivates the motivators? They pretty much motivate themselves and so I just had to learn to motivate myself and sit back and try to take the best attributes into my life.”



Q - What are your legislative goals this session?

“One of the bills I’m working on is called the Reciprocity Bill and that’s where if you have a concealed weapon permit in this state, you pass all the tests, you’ve gone through all the education, you’ve got great character and the state says you’re a good person and you can carry a concealed gun on your body. We don’t accept other states CCW’s. I’m trying to do one where these good people, if you go hunting in Utah or Arizona,we recognize them and they recognize our good people that feel they just want a little added protection in their lives. We’re not going to let just anybody in here. Just people from states that have similar or tougher requirements then ours.”

“In North Las Vegas, where I live, I would like the municipal judges to be law trained so that people who take that position have some understanding of how to be a judge rather than a private citizen. We’re just such a big community now so I’m working on that one.”



Q - On what issue will you not budge?
“For a lot of people in southern Nevada, they work the horticulture industry with the hotels and golf courses. What we’re trying to do is build a 2 plus 2 program with UNR that says these students from Clark County – a lot of times they want to get the next job up but they’re not qualified so they have to leave Las Vegas and go to California to go to school– with the 2 plus 2 program they can go to community college for 2 years and get all the basics out of the way. Then UNR send down professors that teach them the program. They get the degree and never have to leave home and we get horticulturists out of the deal. I’ve got another bill that says every year we send money back to the general fund from the school districts and we didn’t have to use it all. I want to revert some of that money into a rainy day fund for education. And this is kind of an odd one but when you get married in Clark County, you go the County Clerk’s office and a get a wedding license. You get married and then go back to wherever you come from and lose your license. When you call the Clerk’s office, they say “We don’t have it. The County Recorder has it.” I’m trying to get all the marriage certificates and licenses and everything to the County Clerk’s office so they can handle those kind of things rather than people trying to figure out who the County Recorder is. Just little, little clean up things. I’m just happy to serve.”

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