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42nd Assembly Candidate, Karalee Hargrove “My Story”

Karalee Hargrove Cropped (2)The only child of a high school teacher, I was born in Lakewood, California. Everyone said I was just like my mom, bright, outgoing and competitive. I idolized my mom. She was a political activist who, at times, worked on behalf of both major political parties. I accompanied her while canvassing, on campaign work, or to political rallies. I aspired to be a journalist and was so often seen carrying a notepad and pencil for my “reports” that I became known as “the littlest reporter.”

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That littlest reporter’s world turned upside down before my tenth birthday when my mother passed away unexpectedly. With no siblings I was now in the care of my loving grandmother who encouraged me to test myself. Competitive and always looking for a challenge, I became an avid BMX racer. Racing took me to hundreds of races across the country. It was a real education to see and meet so many people from different places and backgrounds.

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Unfortunately, I still dropped out of high school and got married. We had three sons before I was 23. He was serving in the Air Force and I was raising our three boys mostly by myself. I was 24 when we divorced and I found myself the single mother of three living outside the Air Force Base in Fayetteville, North Carolina and without a high school diploma. Bleak as it might appear to many, I was still as bright, outgoing and competitive as I was at ten.  I saw it as an opportunity and came up with a plan.

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Within a few months I had my diploma and was campaigning for a seat on Fayetteville’s City Council. The “littlest reporter” was still a news junkie and politics was in my blood. I was fearless, going door-to-door pitching my thoughts and ideas.

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My narrow loss to a popular incumbent left me anything but defeated. Working odd jobs, I involved myself even more in North Carolina politics. A pet project I initiated and, with the help of then Senator John Edwards, saw it through to a signed bill that protects the identities of people calling to report crimes to law enforcement.

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In 2007, I returned to California to assist my ailing grandmother. It was then that I became reacquainted with Curtiss Hargrove and we married the next year and settled in Twentynine Palms.

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Curtiss is a Supervisor at the Naval Hospital in Twentynine Palms. He’s been employed with the federal government for 15 years. We had two children of our own, so now have five ranging in age from two to 12.

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It doesn’t take much to see that a family like ours has a lot invested in local schools. In 2012, I was elected as a trustee to the Morongo Unified School District; it was my second attempt having narrowly lost my first bid. A lot of my friends knew I was working for $8/hour at Del Taco to finance my campaign; they kept telling me I was running against all odds, but working so hard for so little made me all the more determined to win.

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Since becoming a trustee, my work ethic and persistence has paid off in that I secured long overdue pay raises for District teachers. I re-established the School District’s Foundation that is raising funds to reinvest into the schools. I’ve also taken time to build relationships with staff throughout the District.

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It is so important to become familiar with how things work at every level. That is how we create a great learning atmosphere; and when you have a great learning atmosphere the students benefit most.

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I am far from done. I care about my community … about my entire district. Most of my ideas are outside the box. Next year I expect to finish my degree in Child and Family Development with a minor in Political Science; but I’m not waiting until I have the paper in my hand. There are too many areas that need work.  No one knows better than I do about the importance of education, responsible parenting, safer communities, hard work, and a fair living wage.

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I have come as far as I have by really listening when people have something to say. I can’t hope to represent my constituents if I don’t take time to really listen to them.

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I’m here to win. I’d like to think that when I win, my district wins!

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-Karalee Hargrove, Candidate   

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www.KaraleeHargrovefor42nd.com

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