Paul Chabot's Hesperia High School Class of 1992 classmates might best remember him for organizing a walk-out to protest a dress code that he said treated all Scorpions like the gang members the code was meant to clamp down upon.


"My position was 'don't punish everyone over the few bad seeds,'" he said. The walk-out was covered by the Victorville Daily Press, but school officials were not amused and he was punished for leading the protest. "I think that was my first lesson that, sometimes doing the right thing, you still get dinged on the other end, but it was worth the cause."


More than a decade later, the former senior class president has begun another political campaign, seeking the Republican nomination for the vacant 63rd State Assembly District, which includes Rancho Cucamonga, Loma Linda, Upland and portions of neighboring communities in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.


And although he's accumulated an impressive resume, heavy on law and order bona fides and military service, his early experiences with law enforcement were far from positive.


Chabot said he "hated the police" as a child, after watching his father get arrested when Chabot was in the 3rd grade.


"After my parents divorced, I got in a lot of trouble as a kid. I went through drug rehabilitation at the age of 12, for marijuana," he said.


After he got out, some of the parents of some Chabot's friends didn't allow them to associate with a kid who looked to be headed permanently down the wrong path.


"I think that somehow has played into my life that, as a young kid, proving that I was a good kid and that I can make it ... always kept taking positive steps and moving forward."


Despite his antipathy for law enforcement, he was steered into a law enforcement ROP class at Hesperia High.


"I was bored and didn't have much to do after school and I took the class and fell in love with it."


As an Explorer Scout, Chabot interacted with Hesperia sheriff's station Captain Gary Penrod, who would go on to be county sheriff.


While studying Administration at Cal State San Bernardino, Chabot became a reserve deputy and got his first taste of professional politics.


"Then I got an internship for Rep. Jerry Lewis and worked out of his office one summer, and then in a [later] summer, I got the opportunity to go out to DC and work out of his office there," he said. "I always knew I wanted to go back there."


While attempting to get into law school -- which he saw as a route to joining the FBI -- Chabot applied for the Presidential Management Fellows program, and found himself returning to Washington, in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, during the Clinton era.


"They said 'look, this drug and law enforcement issue is a bipartisan issue,' so they let me in despite my Republican" affiliation, he said.


"I worked directly for Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who was the White House drug czar at that time. However driven I may have thought I was, it went to a new level working for Gen. McCaffery," Chabot recalled. "It was from 5 in the morning to 10 at night."


McCaffery pushed military service on Chabot, and he ended up enlisting in the Navy reserve as an intelligence officer shortly before Sept. 11. (He later served a five-month tour of duty in Iraq.)


In the George W. Bush White House, "I was promoted to a senior adviser for law enforcement, justice and drug control programs," said Chabot. He was sent to Southern California with the US Attorney's office, "where I had the chance to work on national policy to cut down on meth labs.


"I went to visit many, many drug labs, many of them in the High Desert," he said. "There was one literally a block away from the high school."


He reconnected with a girl he knew in college and they fell in love. He ended their bicoastal romance, moving back to California, the day after Bush was sworn in for a second term.


"Then I get a call from [Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's] office, asking if I'd get a job on the state parole board. My first impulse was 'gosh, no, that's a lot of time away from my wife and family.'"


He went on to serve three terms on the state parole board, finally stepping down when he decided to run for the 63rd assembly seat.


"My wife and I are very concerned about our state. What kind of state are our daughters going to have?" he said. "Do we stay and fight in California or do we wave the white flag and move to Texas? .... We're going to stay and fight and do everything we can, both on the state and local level."


Even though incumbent Bill Emmerson is being term-limited out, Chabot still has an uphill race.


"I'm running against three very well-funded mayors in this race, all of whom are going to bring lots of money to this," he said. "Our campaign slogan is 'vote for a veteran, not a politician.'"


And although he's come a long way from his days on the wrong side of the law, Chabot's experiences have helped make him the man he is today.


"I tell [kids], look, the guy standing in front of you in no way had a perfect life," he said. "I grew up dirt poor in Oak Hills on a dirt road in a house with no air conditioning."


For more information on Chabot and his campaign, visit PaulChabot.com. The primary election will be held on June 8.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star