Paul Speirs is president of Steinbeck Communications, a Las Vegas-based public relations firm, whose clients include top companies in the gaming industry. He is also a 10-year board member of Golden Rainbow, a Las Vegas-based charity that provides housing and direct financial assistance to people living with HIV/AIDS. Speirs graduated summa cum laude from Southern Utah University in Public Relations/Marketing/Advertising. A life-long Republican, Speirs started the first chapter of the Teen Age Republicans in Utah, and later left the GOP after George W. Bush decided it was the government's job to interfere in a couple's private decisions on life and death (the Terri Schiavo case). He is the "father" to the coolest cat in the world, Nawlins and has lived in Las Vegas, NV for the last 15 years.
My Q&A with Paul Speirs:
* What is your greatest accomplishment?
In relation to the campaign, my personal greatest accomplishment was delivering my precinct for Barack in the primaries. I think mine was the only one in the NW region that went Barack. My proudest moment was being invited to sit at a roundtable discussion on small business with Gov. Richardson, a man I absolutely admire and respect. I got to sit directly across from him, and he even liked my ideas.
* How did your involvement in the campaign impact your relationships with friends and family?
They pretty much think I'm nuts, and they all voted for McCain, a severe disappointment after 20 months of work. However, for all the crazy that they think I am, they respect me for doing something. As my brother said, they all think they're committed, but I am the only one out there "preaching the gospel" of what I believe.
* What do your family and friends think of your commitment? Is it ever hard for them?
My friends are all on board with Barack, so they are very supportive of me, although none of them have volunteered. See my answer above for my family's reaction.
* Do you relate differently to your community? Has your volunteer work drawn you more closely into local politics?
I do very much. I appreciate long-time Nevadans' libertarian view on things much more after seeing our interactions at door knock after door knock. Nevadans are very much live-&-let-live & want to be left alone, so our work has been challenging. But, I have also seen the very personal effect the disaster known as Bush Economics has had on my neighbors. I see 70+ year olds walking up hill in the 100 degree heat carrying bags of groceries because they now have to choose between gas, groceries and prescriptions, and that keeps me motivated.
* How have you changed personally - temperament, attitudes, ideas, emotions -- because of your volunteer work?
I try very hard to keep an open mind and see both sides of issues - it's an occupational hazard being in the making-news business as I am. However, I have never been so sure about something as this campaign, and I have been surprised at my own unwillingness to see the other side. I have also run through every emotion - frustration with people who call themselves supporters but won't volunteer; stunned amazement at a volunteer who kept working even though her doctor said it could kill her; hopeful that 70% of Americans said race didn't factor in their decision and frustration with the 30% who said it did; and sheer joy when Barack became the nominee for what it meant in a much larger sense - that finally, truly, anyone really could become president.
* What was the highlight of the past year so far? The low point?
The highlight was 1) watching black delegates softly cry when Barack got the nomination in Denver and 2) when I got to meet Barack personally. The low point was when my 70-year-old neighbor screamed "N-lover!" at my 8-year-old neighbor who was helping me pass out flyers.
* Will you be able to sleep the night before Nov. 4?
I hope so because I have so much to do on Nov. 4!
* How do you feel now - with just one week left until the election? What's going through your head?
Mostly I am trying to focus on the tasks at hand and how much work is still left to do. I also have a great deal of excitement that as a country we might finally be able to forever break the color barriers that separate us, which hopefully will lead us to breaking all of our barriers. I am also filled with an overwhelming sense of love for Barack and Michelle and for the inspiration they give me, both as individuals and as a couple.
* What do you plan to do Election Day?
We start get out the vote efforts at 5:30 a.m. that day, and keep it going until the polls close @ 7. Then, I have a bunch of people coming over. I'll have a bottle of champagne and a bottle of tequila. I figure that way, we'll be prepared for whichever way it turns out. ;-)
* When did you first get involved? Were you always this involved? If not, what brought you in?
I joined the campaign 20 months ago after Barack first came to Nevada. I remember when he spoke at the convention in 2004. I was in our community gym doing bicep curls and this skinny guy with big ears and a funny name started to speak. After 15 minutes, I realized my arms were killing me because he'd stopped me mid-curl. From that moment I knew, if this man ever called to me, I would answer. And when he declared his candidacy, I was in. He spoke, and continues to speak, to something much deeper than politics inside me. He speaks to my very soul, to the best that we can be. People ask me, why do you support Barack? And I always answer the same: Because he makes me want to be a better person, and how many people can you say that about?