Niles New Tech teacher will continue to fight for state representative seat

NILES — As the votes began pouring into the polls during Tuesday night’s primary, Niles New Tech teacher Brad Paquette, 31, quickly took the lead in the race for state senate.

Early Wednesday morning, unofficial results reported Paquette as the Republican primary winner, earning 4,272 votes across Berrien and Cass county.

Brad Paquette

“It felt great,” Paquette said. “I look forward to the platform that [will] be offered up to me to bring light to good things in the community.”

Paquette squared off against Niles’ David Mann, 27, who obtained 1,708 votes; Sawyer’s Kelly Priede, 53, with 1,308 votes; Niles’ Daniel Hinkle, 35, with 742 votes; Niles’ Dana Daniels, 61 with 508 votes; Steve Bury with 176 votes and 22 write in candidate votes.  All results are the unofficial tallies listed on county websites.

Paquette will go on to face Dean Hill, the uncontested Democratic candidate, in the November general election. Hill and Paquette are competing to replace current State Rep. Dave Pagel, whose term is up.

Until November, Paquette will remain on the campaign trail and take in every opportunity to meet with the members of his community, he said.

In the fall, he will return to Niles New Tech to teach civics.

“To be in the classroom, I think that is one of the best ways to be in touch and stay grounded and invest in young people’s lives,” Paquette said.

If he wins the election, being a state representative will mean he has to leave his teaching job, but Paquette said he would still seek opportunities for substitute teaching. Being in the education industry as a teacher for the past six years has influenced some of the issues he hopes to bring to the forefront, if elected state representative.

Paquette said he knows first-hand that teachers in the classroom need more support from their representatives. If elected as state representative, he said he hopes to find ways to bring them encouragement in the profession and help share what teachers do for their children in the classroom. Two other big issues Paquette said he intends to focus on are auto-insurance reform and repairing crumbling infrastructure.

Keeping in tune with his Niles constituents to help represent their needs will also be important, Paquette said.

“A good educator is alongside his or her learners and it is no different than a state rep.,” Paquette said. “I am going to facilitate innovative ways to be in touch with folks, because that is my full- time job is to be in touch with people.”

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