My name is Mike Wachs. I grew up in Arizona1Though I was born in Albuquerque, my family moved to Scottsdale when I was three., spent 20 years in Texas2I attended the University of Texas at Austin (BFA, Design) and continued to live in Austin for 5 more years. I moved back to Arizona in 2011, only to meet my now-wife shortly thereafter. We lived in Houston for 10 years: Great people, very sweaty. and moved to The Peninsula 2 years ago with my wife Stephanie and our two young kids: Iris and Harry.3As an extra bonus, my in-laws also moved out here.
So obviously I’m now doing the thing that makes the most sense: Running for mayor.
But the reason is simple.
We have felt like locals since day one thanks to our incredible neighbors and the friends we’ve made. It became very clear very quickly that we were never moving again: PG is where we will grow old and where our kids will grow up.
And it’s where I hope they’ll raise their families.
Because of that, there is an urgency inside of me to not only focus on what will make Pacific Grove the best place to live today—but for decades to come.
Pacific Grove is the most beautiful place in the world. It’s why we came. And it’s why we continue to be in awe each day.
But how do we get people of all ages and types to stay here and live robust lives?
We cannot afford to punt on tough choices or propose band-aid solutions.
We have to invent a future for Pacific Grove that is healthy, vibrant and sustainable—environmentally and economically.
I know you’re looking at this site wondering, “Okay, why is this the guy?”
My entire 20+ year career has been to think big and innovate. I have created billboards for NBA teams, served as an art director for VC-backed media startups, trended worldwide for attempting to sell our old house for $150 (it was surreal!), successfully helped lead pitches to Fortune 500 companies, written and produced videos, re-designed identity systems for state government agencies, and more. I even worked for Beyoncé’s official fan club.4Sadly for me, this is not even our family’s coolest Bey Fact: Mrs. Knowles Carter would braid my wife’s hair in class during high school.
One of my most personal projects and experiences was to help pass legislation in Texas for hearing aids for kids to be covered by insurance. Both our children were born with hearing loss and with Iris (our first) we were shocked to learn that hearing aids were considered “cosmetic devices” by insurance companies in Texas.5Texas is so backwards, right!? Currently in California, pediatric hearing aids are still not covered by insurance. I wrote op-eds for The Houston Chronicle, testified before State committees, designed materials, and helped organize public messaging and outreach with my wife and a few other families.
It took 6 years, 2 legislative sessions, a grassroots fight against a very well-funded insurance lobby—and our daughter knocking on doors at the Texas State Capitol—but it got done.
We got the news of the final vote while at Houstons/Hillstone. I remember the booth that we were sitting at; my parents were in town visiting. Stephanie started instantly crying.
Honestly, I haven’t reflected too much on it until now, but now I’m crying. Life is strange and uncertain at times: We can do things to change it.
I am now fortunate enough to manage a team of designers for a nonprofit that specializes in tech job training for young adults historically left out of Silicon Valley.
While the goal—no matter the job—has always been to think big and innovate, the through line has always been community: How to make it, how to keep it, and how to grow it.
People must have a stake in something bigger than themselves to truly care, invest, and be good stewards for a community.
And that’s what Pacific Grove needs right now.
This election, let’s live up to our city’s fullest potential, dream big, and create our best future. Together.
(If you’re viewing this on mobile, rotating the screen will help out with these photos a bit.)
- 1Though I was born in Albuquerque, my family moved to Scottsdale when I was three.
- 2I attended the University of Texas at Austin (BFA, Design) and continued to live in Austin for 5 more years. I moved back to Arizona in 2011, only to meet my now-wife shortly thereafter. We lived in Houston for 10 years: Great people, very sweaty.
- 3As an extra bonus, my in-laws also moved out here.
- 4Sadly for me, this is not even our family’s coolest Bey Fact: Mrs. Knowles Carter would braid my wife’s hair in class during high school.
- 5Texas is so backwards, right!? Currently in California, pediatric hearing aids are still not covered by insurance.