Mike and Marika Olcott used to golf. But now, they say their steadfast political involvement leaves little time for working on their game. As a result, North Texas is now home to the strongest conservative delegations in the Texas Legislature.

The Olcotts are a tangible force in Texas politics and belong to a growing wave of North Texas activists who habitually volunteer for conservative campaigns and causes. Mike is a Fort Worth native, while Marika hails from Stockholm, Sweden. They’re both scientists; he’s a retired biochemist, while she’s a molecular biologist. So how’d they become citizen leaders?

Mike first volunteered in a minutemen group patrolling the southern border in Tombstone, Arizona. The experience changed his life.

“I spent 30 days on the border, working with people from all walks of life. Lawyers, former marines, we even had someone from NASA. It was inspiring to see everyday Americans volunteer to do a very patriotic thing—defend the country they were so deeply concerned about.”

The Olcotts moved back to Texas in 2009, settling in Argyle, a small Denton County town. There they began to realize that the biggest political impact they could make was close to home.

They joined Argyle Victory, a local grassroots club. They got plugged into local Republican party politics and liberty-minded groups like Fort Worth 912.

“At first, we didn’t understand the political problems plaguing Texas,” the Olcotts said, “and why border security and other important issues were blatantly ignored by state lawmakers who all ran as ‘conservatives.’”

After reading a pamphlet distributed by WallBuilders founder David Barton at the 2010 Texas State GOP Convention, the Olcotts decided to help elect new state representatives. The handout described House Speaker Joe Straus’ record of obstructing conservative reforms in the Texas Legislature.

Since 2012, Mike has knocked on at least 5,000 doors block-walking for conservative candidates. With his help, a handful of long-time establishment Republican lawmakers have been defeated by challengers. Those successful challengers include State Reps. Matt Krause, Jonathan Stickland, Tony Tinderholt, Matt Rinaldi, and State Sens. Konni Burton and Bob Hall.

In 2012 and 2014, Marika worked with other area leaders to organize “Celebrate Conservative Victories” rallies, events attended by hundreds of grassroots activists and the conservatives they helped elect. Most of those lawmakers have stayed true to their campaign promises, earning top marks on Texans for Fiscal Responsibility’s Fiscal Index.

“North Texas has elected the most conservative group of lawmakers the grassroots has ever sent to Austin. Our goal was to encourage citizens to stay active, to give them hope, and show them the enormous effect the entire grassroots community can have when they work together.”

The Olcotts hope others across the state will be inspired to follow their lead.

“Texans are longing for accountable representation in Austin. We want to see public officials truly represent – in their voting records – the values, principles, and policies of the people who elected them. We want them to govern as they campaign.”

The Olcotts reside in Aledo and run Parker County Conservatives. There, they hope to get more citizens engaged at the state and local level.

“I tell people to find a candidate that excites them and get involved in the campaign. It tends to draw people into activism more broadly.”

The Olcotts say political activism is rewarding because it allows you to meet a “new family,” a community of like-minded, liberty-loving Texans. Activism is an opportunity to build new relationships and make a positive difference at the same time.

“We’ve formed so many great relationships,” Mike said. “As with any family, there’s going to be disagreement or conflict, but the bonds you form are not just rewarding, they’re what keep people inspired. That’s the way we hope to make a lasting impact in our state.”