Sean Reyes was appointed to be Utah’s attorney general by Governor Gary Herbert following the resignation of former attorney general John Swallow. With his new role in politics, Sean says that he is hoping to restore the public’s faith in the office. This week he sat down with Shauna Lake to talk about stepping into politics as well as life outside the office.
Below is a transcript of Shauna Lake’s interview with Sean Reyes:
SHAUNA LAKE: Congratulations on your new position.
SEAN REYES: Thanks Shauna.
SHAUNA LAKE: This is a long time coming for you. You’ve had political ambitions for a while. Is that safe to say?
SEAN REYES: You know interestingly since I was a kid, I guess you could say I was very interested in politics. My family, my dad’s family in the Philippines, his uncle was the president of the Philippines. So there’s always been that, sort of, desire to serve in that capacity. But really, truthfully, I was so busy with my law practice and my cases that until just a couple of years ago I really didn’t have any ambitions to run for office. And then I had a number of people encourage me to run for AG.
SHAUNA LAKE: When you lost that race to John Swallow, and then you saw everything that happened after the fact, what did that feel like to you?
SEAN REYES: You know, a lot of people ask, you know do you feel vindicated? I felt just sorrow and disappointment a lot because I’m a fan of the political process. When people hear about these types of things that happened in politics, they get discouraged, and rightfully so they get a little jaded.
SHAUNA LAKE: I’ m just wondering how much pressure that puts on you to lead an exemplary office.
SEAN REYES: Absolutely. I want so desperately for the public to have their faith restored back into the process. We’re the lawyers for the state. We’re your lawyers. We’re your listeners’ lawyers and your viewers’ lawyers, and sometimes some of the viewers may disagree with a particular law that we’re defending. I get that. We have some difficult laws that are potentially divisive. And so once people understand that from a lawyer’s standpoint, regardless of how I may feel personally about any particular issue or law, my duty is to uphold and protect and give the most vigorous defense for the state, and you know that’s what I want to restore back. It’s a law office. It’s not a political office.
SHAUNA LAKE: Tell me about your childhood. You’ve alluded to that, but I want to know more details.
SEAN REYES: I had the most loving parents and my dad he was an artist and then a movie producer and director and entrepreneur. My mom was a principal, I mean at the high school, and education was so important in our family. I think I got one A- my entire life and that was at, I think at BYU I got an A- in one class and my mom wanted to ground me then. I was already in college. The environment we grew up in a tougher neighborhood in L.A., in the L.A. area. And then moved out when I was…to go to junior high and high school. To a little bit more middle-class neighborhood in Southern California. So I would spend the school year in Southern California and then go back to Hawaii almost every summer to work with my grandparents. And they, I mean it’s farmland out there. People ask oh Hawaii…that must have been terrific for three months. Well again, if you’re out in rural cow country and the biggest thing going on is FFA, Future Farmers of America events. The lights go out at 6pm. Everybody is up at 5am and it is work time. And that was a unique upbringing too. The few summers we didn’t go back to Hawaii, my dad packed us in a small motorhome, and we drove. We went through almost every single state throughout the United States. He was looking for subject matter to paint, but he was also educating us about what a wonderful republic we have and what a terrific nation.
SHAUNA LAKE: Is he so proud of you?
SEAN REYES: Oh gosh I think yeah he is. He was always the type to just be so positive and so happy and he’s proud. As a reflection of somebody who came to this country…escaping personal persecution with literally nothing in his pocket and to be able to establish himself and then to have his children succeed. To see the joy in my dad’s and in my mom’s face that you know, that the sacrifices that they made, at least gave us opportunities, and that’s all they ever wanted. Just to give our children the opportunities, and that’s the American Dream. I love that.
SHAUNA LAKE: What’s your dream for your kids Sean?
SEAN REYES: All I really want for them is opportunities also; to be able to pursue the things that will make them happy, and to be productive and to give back. My dad always emphasized you know the way to truly be happy in this life is to serve other people and to give back. Do what makes you happy, but hopefully that will include a lot of service because I truly believe if you’re helping other people that happiness, that it does come. And mainly my best advice and my hopes for them is to listen to your mom. Because she will always lead you in the right direction, and gosh, I mean what more can you hope for? That they’re healthy and that they find happiness.
SHAUNA LAKE: And they have a good role model in their dad.
SEAN REYES: Shauna, thank you.
SHAUNA LAKE: A great role model.
SEAN REYES: I appreciate that.
SHAUNA LAKE: This is a great note to end on. It’s so nice to get to know you better “Person 2 Person” Sean.
SEAN REYES: I appreciate it. It was fun.
-Written and produced by Leslie Tillotson
(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)