Edgy Interview: Karolyn Dorsee
For this Edgy Interview we’re going farther back than we’ve ever gone in the time machine. In fact, we’re going back to a time before Competitive Edge (was there such a time?)… 1984! What a year it was to be a recent SDSU poli sci grad. You had Reagan playing cat and mouse with Mondale. It was morning in America. The politics was good and clean and fun and Republicans were on top. I stumbled in to a nearly derelict building on 5th Avenue in downtown San Diego… not yet “The Gaslamp Quarter.” I go up the stairs but before I get to the top, I hear this loud, crazy, infectious laugh coming from the Dorsee Productions office. Karolyn Dorsee was about to put me to work.
Everybody loves Karolyn, because when you’re a great fundraiser, you’re a people person and you have fun along the way, people love you. I call Karolyn my political Godmother for the start she gave me. She’s had a hand in starting hundreds of political careers here in San Diego. And, 33 years after meeting Karolyn, through all the ups and downs politics can throw at her, she’s still enjoying her work and working for people she believes in. Here’s how she began the interview…
How did you get into politics?
John, you have to remember how I originally came into this political world was with President Gerald Ford in 1976 and I helped with a rally in Grossmont Shopping Center with 100,000 people! When Jack Ford came to town I was working with my husband Jack at Jack Dorsee Sailboats and took the day off to greet him. I purchased a giant sheet cake and took it to the headquarters downtown to meet the President of the United States! To this day I am grateful to the Ford family and we stay in touch. The rest is history. The Federated Women then took me in and I helped with the Grossmont rally and I had found my calling. Then I met Mayor Pete Wilson, which was my whole life in politics!
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Oh, I wanted to be a cheerleader FOREVER! My father use to say, after I was cheerleader for many years, “How are you going to make a living being a cheerleader?” I proved him wrong!
What music did you listen to when you were a teenager?
My favorite musical genre as a teenager was good ole “ROCK AND ROLL.”
Tell us about your first concert?
It was with “THE BEACH BOYS.” I still attend their concerts every time they’re in town! Their music makes me happy!
What kind of music are you listening to these days?
I listen to today’s JAZZ like Spyro Gyro and Dave Koz, but appreciate and listen to Cal Trader, Stan Getz, Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck from back in the day!
Who did the most to shape your thinking on politics?
Assemblyman, Mayor, US Senator and California Governor Pete Wilson shaped my thinking most on politics. My favorite quote from Pete: “We can’t live without hope. When we keep hoping, we keep living.”
What is the best thing about the USA?
Our freedom. If we lose freedom here, there’s no place to escape to.
What is the most important issue facing California?
The liberal mindset is not working. Government is giving everything away, raising taxes and letting the criminals out. We need to go back to the basics of what government is really supposed to be doing. As Reagan said in “The Speech” of 1964, “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. So government’s programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.”
If you went back in time, which former President would I like to chat with?
In 1990, I asked Don Hansen of Hansen’s Surf Shop to donate a large surfboard for Pete Wilson to give to President Reagan. We then did a big presentation on stage at a fundraiser. I would ask Reagan, “What did you ever do with that surfboard?”
If you could return to a place you’ve traveled, where would you go?
A place I have traveled for many years is Hawaii and I can keep going there forever.
What’s your favorite sport?
My favorite sport is tennis because I played many years and loved it!
What’s your favorite alcoholic beverage?
Sauvignon blanc from New Zealand.
Who’s got the best pizza in town?
The best pizza in town is LaDou’s BBQ Chicken at SAMMY’S because we love Sami Ladeki!
What is the best advice you’ve ever received and who gave it to you?
I have been very lucky to have many mentors that gave me great advice throughout the years. So I’d like to say my greatest influence was reading and re-reading Norman Vincent Peale and the book “The Power of Positive Thinking.”
What advice do you have for young people starting out in your profession?
The advice I give young people starting out in my profession is stay positive, learn how to take rejection, do not take anything personally, take care of people, do not lose your integrity and never give up. I love mentoring young students. That also has been my calling. We sure need them now to take over and never give up! And one more thing, also live by the Reagan quote: “There’s no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.”
Name a living person who you I admire and why you admire them?
Governor Pete Wilson. I admire him for his brilliance and integrity. We need more Pete Wilsons to save California and America. Another favorite Wilson quote is actually his quote of Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”