There are many things a young child can learn while working with his father in the West Texas oil patch. For Midland native Kevin Sparks, it was a compilation of values that led him into political activism today – including a strong work ethic, fiscal responsibility, self-governance, and an appreciation for “community ownership.”
As a child, Sparks’ family didn’t shy away from politics at the dinner table. “Conversation amongst our family centered on important issues, which usually wound up being political,” he said. His father, Don Sparks, was on the school board, and close family friends included Ernest Angelo, a former Midland mayor and key player in Ronald Reagan’s campaign for president.
“As a kid, I remember helping Ernest during his campaign for mayor,” Sparks said as he reflected on a picture of him and his siblings in their costumes on Halloween, putting up door hangers for the mayoral candidate.
During this time, Sparks also watched his father start his first business – an oil and gas company called Discovery Operating. It drew his attention to fiscal policy and personal responsibility, which later became a major driver behind his political involvement. “We grew up in a culture of owning responsibility for what happens to us,” he said.
After graduating with a business degree from the University of Texas, Sparks moved back home to help with the family business. Now President of Discovery Operating, he says he is “always looking for more efficient ways of doing things,” and that, “understanding how inefficient government is with spending is what motivated [him] to become more involved in politics.”
While there are certain social issues that Sparks cares about and follows closely – such as pro-life causes, education, and child advocacy – he says that they all tie back to fiscal policies. He explains that governments often believe more money is the answer to solving these issues, but that is “rarely the answer.” Rather, he’s an advocate of individuals taking ownership of the needs in their communities rather than the government.
“For example,” Sparks said, “a woman in Midland recently started a tutoring program for the local public high schools. She reached out to churches for volunteers and it’s already expanding to the junior highs.” He also talked about High Sky Children’s Ranch, a local non-profit that he and his wife Jill are both actively involved in that focuses on assisting children and families in the foster care system.
“Needs are better met by these organizations versus the government,” Sparks says. “The people who started them have the passion for it and truly care about the issues they’re addressing.”
He explains that over time it seems individuals have gradually taken less and less ownership of their community’s issues and, subsequently, government has assumed that role.
Today, Sparks has expanded his political activism to not just local issues, but state and national as well. He serves on the board of the Texas Public Policy Foundation as well as the advisory board to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. And while there’s no guarantee that he won’t still campaign door to door in a Halloween costume, he prefers to help liberty-minded candidates by hosting fundraisers at his family’s Midland home.
In addition to politics, Sparks is passionate about education, mentoring, and ministry. He serves on the board of Midland Classical Academy as well as Market Place Midland, a faith-based mentorship program for young men in business. For sixteen years, he coached youth football, baseball, and basketball, where he says the goal was not just winning but, “teaching basic skills such as sportsmanship and how to respect others.” He and Jill are also actively involved in their church as both life group leaders and elders.
In his spare time, Sparks enjoys spending time with his wife and four children – Grey, Garrett, Grant, and Summer – as well as fly fishing, hiking, and other outdoor activities.