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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

On The Record: Chuck Wiggins

For this installment of On The Record, I spoke with Chuck Wiggins, Brazos County Democratic Party Chair.

How did you get started in politics? Did you come to it in your youth or later on?

I have always been interested, as far back as junior high school. My dad enjoyed politics, and my brother and I would discuss it frequently. I had an excellent high school government teacher, which kept me interested. In college, I majored in Political Science at the University of Iowa. I later received my master’s and doctorate, and I also had an R.O.T.C. commitment to fulfill.

I moved to Bryan/College Station for a position in a new program, and I have taught for 18 years. When I went into semi-retirement, I wanted to find things to keep me busy, I went to a local Democratic party meeting, and they needed a chair, which I volunteered for.

The chair position has been a challenge, due to the lack of organization when I began. Maggie Charleton has been a great asset to me while I’ve held this position, working very hard for almost nothing and doing a terrific job. She has been in charge of the office while I have been doing other duties.

What would you say are the primary issues concerning Bryan/College Station?

Support for the military is a huge issue here, with A&M being located here. There is a large amount of retired military servicemen and women. Of course, with Bush always being around, there are a lot of Republicans.

Bush’s Presidential library is located here, as well. Due to this, we are lucky to have great speakers come into the area, which might not have come before. This helps teach young adults about public affairs and become educated in the area. Unfortunately, the Republican agenda is being pushed, and most of the student body has become Republicans.

How do local politics affect your family?

My children are not in the area anymore, so my wife and I travel a lot and are not around for most of the local political events.

Do you have any ambition for higher office? Do you have plans to run for any other party office, or possibly even public office?

I absolutely do not. I cannot say I wouldn’t like to, but I have had health problems that would inhibit me from running a successful campaign.

Who are some of your political heroes?

My first is John F. Kennedy, but he wasn’t around very long, unfortunately. Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale I admire very much.

I mostly have Democratic heroes, but I admire maverick Republicans as well. I admire most politicians due to their service, and the strain on their families while they serve.

What would you say has been the single most defining moment in your political life?

The dedication to my position as county chair has been immense; it has been a large part of my life. I also lobbied to have a local ice rink in the area which was successful. It involved millions of dollars, and it has been going for a couple of years now.

What are you looking forward to in the coming cycle?

I am excited to see a Democratic president. I supported John Edwards in ’04, ad plan to support him if he continues to 2008.

What advice would you give to young people just getting into politics?

Always be honest and state what you believe, always. Be consistent in your message across the board. You don’t have to tell everything about yourself, but be honest about the information you do give.

Have you ever wanted to work / worked professionally in politics? In what capacity?

I’ve always wanted to be a professional lobbyist; it might be a little too late in my career for that, though. I worked with an assistant lobbyist in Kansas. I worked for the Environmental Protection Agency in Kansas, and enjoyed myself.

What one thing would you say a political organization never has enough of?

Number one is volunteers. Money and leadership are important as well. It takes both to have a successful organization. It’s hard for donors to have money for the local party and candidates statewide, it’s always a struggle.

Tell us a little bit about the county party, and what roles you feel like you fulfill in that group, official or otherwise.

Officially, I help organize, supervise primary elections, and run the county convention. Unofficially, I raise money, and publicize events. We are having a gathering on April 13th named “Shut up and Sing” featuring a Dixie Chicks video.

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