John Robert Stratton, KE5ISX, Appointed West Gulf Division Vice Director
After review of eligibility by the ARRL Ethics and Elections Committee, President Kay Craigie, N3KN, has appointed John Robert Stratton, KE5ISX, of Austin Texas, to serve as Vice Director of the ARRL’s West Gulf Division for the remainder of the current term that expires January 1, 2011. Stratton, an attorney, fills the vacancy created when John Thomason, WB5SYT, resigned the position earlier this month.
“John Robert Stratton has the training, experience, time and motivation to be a great Vice Director,” said ARRL West Gulf Division Director Dr David Woolweaver, K5RAV. “His addition to the West Gulf Division’s team will enhance its ability to provide the quality of service the membership deserves.”
A General class licensee, Stratton has been licensed and an ARRL member since 2006, but said he has wanted to be a ham since he was a Boy Scout in high school: “I was always fascinated by the magic of voices appearing out of the night air from exotic lands -- some pedestrian, some urgent, some mysterious. Many an hour was spent at my uncle’s place in East Texas, often into the wee hours of the morning, carefully rotating the dial on his Hallicrafters, stalking the souls whose voices lived and hid inside the radio. Highly sought, but always difficult to find were the ships at sea. Of all the Q signals, I found none more haunting than QRD -- where bound -- conveying the image of tramp steamers alone in the night, seeking companionship from the shadowy images slipping past.”
Crediting a great Elmer, Stratton started working on getting his ticket, but “life, in the form of graduation, engineering school, law school and then starting my own law firm intervened. In 2006, I decided I had for too long missed those voices, so I obtained my Technician license and immediately joined the ARRL.”
In February 2007, Stratton became active in League affairs after learning about the new cell phone bills that were introduced in the 2007 Texas Legislative Session, and he volunteered to help work against the bills. He was put in touch with then-ARRL West Gulf Division Vice Director Dr David Woolweaver, K5RAV, who was leading the West Gulf legislative efforts. “Initially just a volunteer, I was selected to lead the West Gulf legislative team,” Stratton said. “We were successful in defeating the cell phone bills that would have made mobile Amateur Radio operation illegal. With the help of some smart and dedicated hams, we were also successful in obtaining passage of new laws that protected those state employees who were hams [so they could operate] when they deployed in emergencies.”
Due to his success with the Texas cell phone legislation, Stratton became the ex-officio West Gulf Legal Counsel and in 2009, he was appointed Assistant Director and Division Legislative Action Chair. In this capacity, he said he was “charged again with leading our legislative efforts in the 2009 Texas Legislative Session. We were successful in persuading the Legislature to pass cell phone legislation that exempted Amateur Radio operators from the effect of those laws. We also introduced legislation that would have eliminated the ability of home owner associations to deny hams the right to operate and erect towers and antennas. Unfortunately, although we received unanimous support, the bill was unable to get out of both the House and Senate committees and reach the floor for a vote.”
Saying that Stratton has been working closely with the West Gulf Division for four years, Dr Woolweaver explained that the new Vice Director initially volunteered to assist with legislative matters: “Eventually, he became the leader of the West Gulf Division’s Austin Group of ARRL volunteers that has been responsible for the great successes achieved at the state legislature. Although many 'wireless communication device' bills have been filed that would limit mobile Amateur Radio operation, no bill has been passed due to John and the Austin Group’s efforts. Thanks to John and his group, Texas has a statue, signed by the Governor that exempts Amateur Radio operators from future ‘wireless communication device’ legislation. Although not a total guarantee against future attacks on mobile Amateur Radio, the statute is now state law. John is also the Division Legislative Action Chairman and supervises the Grassroots Legislative Action program in the West Gulf Division.”
To enhance and support the ARRL’s legislative efforts, Stratton also led the effort to form the first Amateur Radio political action committee in the United States -- Texas Ham Pac. “It has proven to be invaluable in supporting our legislative efforts,” he said.
Locally, Stratton is a member of the Austin Amateur Radio Club (AARC) and the Central Texas DX and Contest Club (CTDXCC) -- “a very green member,” he explained. On the EmComm level, he is also one of the assigned Amateur Radio operators who staff the State Communications and Coordination Group for the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TXDEM) during disasters.
Stratton is a civil trial lawyer in Austin, Texas with his own firm, The Stratton Law Firm, PC. A graduate of the University of Texas with a degree in aerospace engineering, he then pursued a law degree at the University of Texas School of Law; he has been in private practice since passing the bar exam.