• Mitchell Skelton

Experienced...I know what I don't know.

Experience is defined as knowledge or practical wisdom gained from what one has observed, encountered, or undergone. I’ve gained a lot of experience in my life, some by watching others, still more by living through certain situations, but I’d say some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned came from those times that I really messed something up.

My father had a way of taking these moments of failure and teaching life changing lessons no matter how bad I messed up. Even after I married, had children, and started a business, the words of wisdom were always the same: Let that be a lesson to you. There were times those seven words stung more than alcohol on a skinned knee, but I understand now that my dad was encouraging me to gain wisdom from the experience.

The more “lessons” I experienced the more I learned. I’d stick a pin right there in the painful part of my memory because “those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.” As a father myself now I understand that there were a lot of those lessons I learned that could have been avoided if I had just listened to my parents or drawn from the experience of others who had been in that same situation before, but that’s the thing about gaining wisdom, it’s a lived experience. You can tell your child, multiple times, the stove is hot, that if they touch it their hand will burn, and it will hurt. They might even get their hand close enough to the stove to feel the intense heat, but once that child’s hand finally touches the searing heat of the stove’s eye…Lesson Learned. You won’t ever have to talk to that child about a hot stove again. (Don’t ask me how I know this, let’s just say it’s one of the areas in which I have experience!)

Our country is in a mess and most of our problems have been created by career politicians and inexperienced legislators. We cannot continue to vote for people whose only experience is in politics. When we continue to vote for and elect career politicians then all we will get are career politicians. We need people in office from the state house to the White House with real life experience. We need men and women who have learned their lessons not just from a textbook but those who have gained the wisdom that only comes with life experience.

Obviously, a person can’t reasonably be expected to have experience in all relevant areas. But we can expect them to be students of history, which allows one to use wisdom to learn from others. Former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, famously said, ““There are known knowns, things we know that we know; and there are known unknowns, things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns, things we do not know we don't know.” I have reached that point in my life that I can accept that there are many more things that I know I don’t know than I know that I know.


The founders of our great nation were not politicians, most of them were reluctant politicians at best. These men were soldiers, farmers, entrepreneurs and citizens with experience and a keen knowledge of history. They shared the view of their contemporary, Edmund Burke, that knowledge along with experience and sound reasoning is the “supreme guide” in politics.

My decision to seek to become your state representative did not begin because I think I have all the answers to the problems that plague us; my decision to run was made because I realized that my experience has uniquely equipped me to represent the people of this district. I know what I know. I know what it takes to work long hours because there are people depending upon me for their paycheck every week. I know the pressure that weighs on so many of you to provide food, clothing, and shelter for a spouse and children. I know how difficult it is to navigate the maze that is our state government with its many regulations for individuals and businesses. I also know what I don’t know. This is when I will rely on the example of those citizen-politicians of the past and allow what knowledge I have be combined with experience and reasoning to serve as my guide. My promise to you is that I will be a student of those things I don’t know, I’ll seek knowledge from the people I serve and especially those who have knowledge and experience in the areas where I am deficient.

If I am elected, my approach to serving as your state representative will be simple, I will be available to serve the people who need help navigating the confusing labyrinth of state government and I will be the passionate voice of the people of the 71st District.

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