With just 10 days until the election, most candidates are run down, tired, exhausted and fatigued. Yes, I realize they all have the same meaning, but as a former candidate, I can attest to the myriad of physical and emotional strains a candidate morphs into day after day, especially this close to the election and the end of this journey and with great hope that you will be on the winning end of the next journey.
For David Haener, Democratic candidate for State Representative in the 23rd House District (Gibraltar, Trenton, Woodhaven and the townships of Brownstown, Grosse Isle and Huron), a seat currently held by Republican Pat Sommerville, on a Thursday evening at 10 PM he should be all kinds of tired, but he is not. In fact, he is as energetic at 10 PM as he would be at 10 AM, maybe even more so, and, get this, according to David Haener, he is having a great time knocking doors and attending events. He even asked me, seriously, “Why don’t more people do this (run for office)?
A technology consultant by profession, David has worked with everyone from mom and pop companies to Fortune 500 companies, helping them to be more efficient and more profitable as well. The Haener name may not be a household name in your part of the world, but the Haener family name is well known in the 23rd District where his family settled to in 1918. He is the youngest of 27 offspring of the 7 children his grandparents moved to New Boston with to begin farming.
It’s fascinating listening to David talk about his childhood. His father was 60 when David was born and as he was growing up he tagged along with Dad a lot. Part of the joy in that for David Haener was just listening to his father and his father’s friends and relatives tell stories. It would help shape David in becoming a great listener and a great storyteller.
His dedication to service and community is deeply rooted in the traditions his mom and dad extolled upon all the Haener children, and David says, with pride and great sincerity, that he has “always wanted to make a difference”.
A political newcomer, David Haener had a difficult hurdle to jump during the primary, where he eked out a victory over some well-known Democrats in the District. The satisfaction for David was the way he won; through good, old-fashioned retail politics: knocking doors. And, boy, did he knock some doors, and still is.
As the pre-primary season escalated, I had a few people ask me about David. One even said David had knocked his door twice before he even knew who the other candidates were and he was very impressed by that. From sun up to sun down, David Haener became well known around the state as a tireless campaigner and someone to watch.
I asked David why he decided to run for office.
The issues of women, retirees and taking money from education. This is just something you can’t stand by and let happen so you need to find someone who can fight. So I decided to throw my name in.
Part of the experience of knocking doors is to let the voters know what you stand for and what you will fight for, but for Haener, even this process was a bit different.
Haener: Listen, I have had more fun in the last year than I have at any time in my entire life. But I was surprised how many people wanted to talk and tell me what they wanted to see done. I believe that government should be accessible to everyone, not just the rich or not just the poor, but everyone.
As for issues, of course people are keyed into education, women’s rights and the fiscal health of our communities But the number one issue? Roads!
Haener: With few exceptions, every house I have been to wanted to talk about the shape of our roads. They are feeling it in their pocketbooks. $357 a year is the average cost of the effect of the roads on our cars. By the current administration’s lack of answers on roads, it has cost us over, four years, almost $1200 in car repairs.
When asked if he had a plan to fix the roads, his answer was interesting and enlightening:
Haener: The first thing we need to do is go back to enforcement. The state has stolen money from the police departments that were enforcing weight restrictions on trucks and we need to make sure they get the resources they need to enforce the laws. I was talking to the Brownstown police department and they used to have an extra officer on duty whose sole job was to monitor overweight trucks and the fines that they pulled in actually paid for the extra officer. But, because of cuts, that stopped and look what has happened to our roads.
We also talked at length about what the lack of revenue sharing has done to the fiscal health of many communities and David Haener is the first to admit that revenue sharing shortfalls are the reason most of the communities that are seeing troubled waters ahead is as a direct result of the state shirking their financial responsibility to our communities.
Over the last ten years the state had neglected its revenue sharing responsibility to municipalities to the tune of $6.3 billion. That’s a lot of money.
David also explained to me in detail that he wants to be sure, once elected, that his open door policy is taken seriously and wants voters to believe that he is serious about collaborating with his constituents on policy and laws and welcomes their ideas and solutions. He has pledged to make himself available for coffee hours, volunteer hours, and office hours and could not stress strongly enough that he works for us and not the other ways around.
Watching this race from the sidelines, I get the distinct impression that David Haener doesn’t just badly want to win this seat just to win it. He expressed many times throughout the course of the interview that he felt a certainty that he needs to make a difference. That this is a calling more than anything else, and I cannot find any fault in that positioning. I also believe this it his destiny and the voters in the 23rd House District will be doing themselves a huge favor by electing David Haener as their next State Representative.
For more information you can check out his website DavidHaener.com.
The campaign needs volunteers to help with making calls, knocking doors and whatever else needs to be done to win this seat and make a current Republican seat Democratic.
If I were a betting man, I would NEVER count out David Haener. In fact, remember his name because he has leadership written all over himself.