We met Kenneth Sheets at a retreat at our church called Christ Renews His Parish, commonly known around our St. Thomas Aquinas parish as CHRP (pronounced “chirp”). It is a profound weekend held twice a year, one weekend for the men and one for the women. People come away from this retreat renewed, refreshed, and on fire for the Lord.
To say my husband was not excited to go is a huge understatement. Sitting at the table next to him was another man who was not too excited to be there (actually there were several at the table in the same frame of mind) named Kenneth Sheets. But both Doug and Kenneth were touched by the Holy Spirit on the weekend and both continued on throughout the 6-month formation process that follows. They became friends, and at some point during this time, I met Kenneth and his sweet wife, Michele.
Soon after he and Doug were on the team that hosted the next men’s retreat, Kenneth was called into active duty as a Marine and sent to Iraq. Doug continued to get occasional emails from Kenneth and we would see Michele from time to time.
Since Kenneth returned from duty, Doug and I had run into them both at many different events at church. Last December, I was asked to be on a committee at our parish for the Catholics Come Home program. Kenneth and Michele were also on the committee. I really enjoyed getting to know them even better and working with them.
It was during this time that Kenneth told us that he was thinking about running for State Representative for District 107. I was so thrilled to know someone running for such a position and even more thrilled when I got home that night and discovered I was in his district! I was mostly thrilled that he was running as a Republican so I could vote for him!
Since he told us that it was official that he was running we have supported his candidacy and been so excited for him...BUT...we haven't really been able to "do" as much for his campaign as we'd like and I've felt badly about that. We walked for him in the neighborhood July 4th parade and we've done little things like take food to some of the folks that were block walking for him and that type of thing. However, I do have my famous phone phobia so I never could bring myself to do phone calls and block walking terrifies me. I have been feeling guilty that I haven't done more of that kind of thing. So when the opportunity came up to interview Kenneth for my blog, I jumped at the chance! He and Michele carved out time between block-walking and the 7:30pm “last chance” Mass where Michele served as an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. (Seriously? How does she have the energy?) They sat down with me and Doug at our home. We put all the kids in front of a new movie they had gotten from the church library and we had a great talk with Kenneth and Michele Sheets!
I did not have a tape recorder so I'm going to "summarize" their answers! I had prepared some “getting to know you” questions that revolve around the issues that I blog about – Catholicism and faith, marriage and family and pro-life.
THEIR MARRIAGE, ICE ROAD TRUCKERS AND OPTIMUS PRIME
I asked about their marriage. The campaign has been a whirlwind of activities, events and meetings. I asked how they had been able to stay connected during all of it and how they would stay connected during the times that Kenneth would be gone to Austin. Kenneth answered first by saying how blessed he is to have Michele as his wife. She keeps him sane and grounded. They have really been relying on each other during all of this.
The hardest part has been communication…so many things happen during a day that sometimes it’s a challenge to keep each other up to date. Then Michele pointed out that the 4 months that Kenneth would spend in session in Austin is a much shorter time than when he was serving in the military and based in South Carolina and then Iraq. Plus, unlike Iraq, she can go to visit him in Austin! Also, they often try to delay dinner each night that they are attending separate events, so they can eat together, and watch Ice Road Truckers. Ice Road Truckers? Aren’t they too cute?
I was impressed with their solidarity as a couple during this process. You can really see that they are in this together.
Next I asked Michele what her reaction was when Kenneth told her that he was thinking about running for office. She blushed and started laughing, a little embarrassed because of where she got the quote that she used to answer him! Her response was from the movie Transformers and is actually quite profound! “Fate rarely calls us at the moment of our choosing.” – Optimus Prime.
Michele said it all started at dinner with friends, talking about their frustrations with Obamacare, which was about to pass. They were commenting that they wanted to do something with their frustration. Someone mentioned that no one was running on the Republican side for State Rep in District 107 and that Kenneth should run. This comment kept being repeated and he started to seriously consider it. Kenneth said that there were 4 people he had to ask before he could make it official. The first was Michele. The second was his boss, along with higher-ups at work. The third was his boss in the Marine Corp Reserves. And the fourth was God. With each person, he kept waiting for someone to answer him with a resounding “NO”. After the first three “yeses” he was SURE that God would give the out he was waiting to hear. He never got it…in fact, things just kept working out. Kenneth and Michele both agree that it was strange how everything kept laying out right in front of them with no glitches. It was pretty clear that the candidacy was supposed to happen!
Kenneth was brought up in a non-denominational church. His parents taught him good morals and values. It was his best friend in the Marine Corp that introduced Kenneth to Catholicism. He decided to convert in 1996. Michele grew up Baptist so when she and Kenneth met they decided to meet somewhere in the middle and attend Methodist church. One weekend, however, she ended up attending a Catholic mass and loved it. She called Kenneth and told him that she was converting. She attended RCIA (the program which brings new Catholics into the church and teaches them about the faith) and converted in 2002. She has been volunteering her time and talents with the RCIA program ever since and Kenneth often joins her!
Michele's work with RCIA is just one of many examples of how Kenneth and Michele live their faith. Kenneth is a 4th Degree in the Knights of Columbus. Michele is an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. Both are involved in parish activities such as carnival, parish potluck dinners and the before mentioned CRHP retreat activities.
I asked Kenneth how his faith would play a role when he is elected in November. He said that he would pray a lot about the decisions that he would make. His faith affects his morals and that would, in turn, affect the way he does his job. He knows that there could be a lot of temptations that go along with this kind of position. His faith will certainly help him in those situations as well.
Also because of his faith, Kenneth is pro-life. He has received endorsements from Texas Right to Life and Texas Alliance for Life (click here for a personalized Pro-Life Voter's Guide from TX Alliance for Life). I asked Kenneth what kind of role he would be able to play in Pro-Life legislation at the state level. He told us about a bill that will be coming up that will give the woman the right to see a sonogram and to hear the heartbeat before an abortion is performed. Kenneth has pledged to support that legislation.
The last question I had was about the issues that would be most important for our district. Kenneth feels that the most important issues for our district are the same ones that our state faces...the economy, jobs and the budget. The state of Texas is facing a budget shortfall in the next session. Kenneth believes that spending should be cut and the budget prioritized.
He pointed out that recently both the city of Dallas and Dallas county raised our taxes. He has signed a pledge that he will not support a tax raise for the state. To raise taxes would take away the incentive for people to come here to live and do business.
Kenneth also told us that 4 new congressional seats will be added to the state of Texas. The way they draw up these districts should be done in a way that will reflect conservative values. He also supports realigning communities of interest. For example, Lake Highlands where I live is currently split up into 3 districts - 2 Republicans and 1 Democrat.
This Blogger’s Humble Opinion
I’m passionate about politics but wouldn’t say I’m that knowledgeable about all of the issues. My eyes glaze over when the discussion gets too technical about taxes and things like that. I mostly look at the candidate’s character and their stance on pro-life issues. BUT…I feel that I am a good judge of character. Long before Kenneth Sheets decided to run for Texas State Rep, I knew deep in my heart that he is a good person, a sincere person and a person of character. I see this in his actions at church. I see this in the way that he is with his wife and the way that he talks about his wife. I see this also in the choice he made in Michele because she too is a good person, a sincere person and a person of character. I see it when my children light up at the sight of him. You should see him play with them!! Too cute…this man is very in tune with his inner child!
I am very proud to know Kenneth and Michele Sheets and am so excited that they have stepped up to answer the call to run for Texas State Representative for District 107. I can’t wait to vote for him and to see all of the good things he is going to do for the State of Texas and for my District.
Early voting begins TOMORROW - October 18 - click here for a list of early voting locations.
Michele, Stevie and Kenneth