Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford was first elected to the office in 2018 and is up for reelection in November. In part one of our three part interview series with him, we learned about Ford the man, husband, and father—and what drove him to get involved in public service.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Americano: What made you decide to get into public service in the first place?
Ford: It was actually a joke that my son thought he was cracking on me, my oldest son who is now in med school. When we moved back here to Las Vegas, it was in ‘07, he was in high school, and he said, ‘Dad, you said everything you do is for the family, right?’ I said, ‘That’s right son, I’m glad you recognize that all the decisions I make are for the family, that’s what it’s about, I’m glad you understand that, I’m glad you recognize that.’
He says, ‘If that’s the case dad, why’d you move us from Texas to Las Vegas, which has the worst school district in the nation?’ And then he started laughing, he said, ‘I got you dad.’ I said, ‘You know what, that’s actually a really good question.’
It was serious for me because my son was in high school back then and wanted to be a doctor and we had already experienced that we had long-term subs teaching him AP Chemistry, which is not going to be conducive to him being prepared to become a doctor. I decided right then and there that I would turn that joke into reality or respond to that joke with the reality of getting engaged and getting involved, and I ran for office, initially to help the school system.
I used to be a teacher, I have a PhD in education–out of my five degrees, four are in education, and I wanted to get involved and help improve the school district, school system in our state, so I ran for the state Senate. I lost miserably, but that’s what inspired me to run. I ran again two years later, and I won again with the same idea in mind, to improve our educational system in the first instance, and things have progressed since then.
Americano: What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working or campaigning? Tell us something fun about Aaron Ford.
Ford: I don’t know if you’d call it fun or not, but I like taking naps when I’m not working as much. But no seriously, I’m a husband first and a father, and I love spending time with my family. Whether it’s helping my youngest son with his college applications or whether it’s my wife and I being able to go to the movies, those are the types of things I like to do.
I like hanging out with my family, I like spending time with them, and just being around them. But I also like to travel and so I would love to travel somewhere. I have no idea where I’d go at this juncture, I can’t even think about it frankly beyond the election, but those are a few things that I like. One of the funnest things that some folks know about me and will likely never get to see again is that I love karaoke. But it depends on the song, and so I would find myself engaging in some karaoke if I had some time to do it these days.
Americano: I have to ask, do you have a go-to karaoke song?
Ford: I have a handful. I can’t sing, but I can perform. The handful of songs that I can perform are Poison, by Bell Biv Devoe, and Brick House by the Commodores. If I had a go-to song, it would be Brick House by the Commodores.
Americano: What’s your favorite thing about being a parent?
Ford: Looking at, living, and loving on my sons. I have three sons and a nephew that my wife and I have raised. I’m so proud of them, they’re my motivation. As I’ve indicated, the reason that I ran for office in the first place was because of a conversation I had with one of my sons. So the best part of being a father is that I have these sons that I can look to and spend time with and marvel about and marvel over. What I try to be is the best role model that I can be for them, recognizing that people make mistakes, people have to go through life and they have to learn lessons, and I enjoy talking to them about life’s experiences and trying to be there for them as they continue to grow old and become active agents in our society.
Americano: Do you have a favorite family tradition?
Ford: My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, ‘cause I get to hold my family captive for a little time period. One of our traditions is over the Thanksgiving table, we spend time going around the table and talking about what we’re thankful for, something that has happened over the last year that has given us something great to be thankful for, so that’s one of the traditions that we have.
We’re all here, my oldest son is in med school, and if I can help it we won’t have him miss Thanksgiving this year—though he’ll be deep in the throes of some rotation somewhere I’m sure—because it’s a very important tradition that we have.
Americano: If you weren’t a public servant or an attorney or an educator, what would you be? In a different timeline, what would you do if it wasn’t any of those things?
Ford: I really enjoy international affairs and things of that sort, so I probably would try to be an ambassador or a foreign service officer, something that would give me the ability to experience other cultures. I studied abroad when I was an undergrad in Mexico. All of my kids have had international experiences studying elsewhere and that’s just something that fascinates me. So if I weren’t doing what I’m doing now, in another life, I would be an ambassador or a foreign service officer.
Americano: What’s something people might not know about you?
Ford: I talked about karaoke, but what I didn’t tell you is that I really do a mean Michael Jackson in karaoke. That was my very first go-to song. When I was a little kid, I was called Michael Jackson Jr. I had a curl, but it was kind of dry, I didn’t look like Michael Jackson, but I tried to be like Michael Jackson, and so I had the little jacket and had the glove and the glasses.
I was in the fifth grade and I did this talent show one time, and I did the spin like Michael Jackson does and my glasses flew off, but I played it off real smooth. I shimmied over like Michael Jackson does and did a spin again and I swooped down and put them back on. So I do a real mean Michael Jackson impersonation. A lot of people don’t know that. They’ll never get to see it again, but that’s something that many people don’t know.
Read part two of our interview with Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford next week, when we talk about his record as AG, his efforts on public safety and criminal justice, and his work with the Latino community.