LETTER TO THE EDITOR: VandenHeede is the best candidate for state representative

Published 10:20 am Wednesday, October 21, 2020

It seems like the only reliable trend in politics is how often we’re forced to vote for “the least worst” candidate. Fortunately, that’s not the case in this year’s 78th District race for state representative. Incumbent, Brad Paquette, has been so overshadowed by challenger, Dan VandenHeede. I recommend everyone compare their qualifications.

Start first with their local experience. VandenHeede grew up in the district and returned after college to teach school there for 25 years. He’s been married for 32 years, raised three healthy productive kids and been elected to the Niles City Council five times in a row. At only 52 years old, he also made time to coach cross country and track for 20 plus years, renovate their 100-year-old home, start a small vacation rental business, indulge his passion for vintage cars, write a column for the local paper, spearhead Niles community garden effort, serve on its parks and airport boards and chair the city’s ordinance committee.

In contrast, Paquette grew up in northern Michigan and mostly attended college until 2012. After a short teaching stint in Niles and serving two years on its planning commission, he won the 2018 race for State Representative, even after refusing to debate his opponent at a League of Women Voters forum. In his two years representing the 78th District, Paquette has sat on four house committees, and recently opposed Gretchen Whitmer’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 by posting interviews with small business owners critical of her actions on his Facebook page. Paquette is unmarried, has no children and, according to his Wikipedia page, was born sometime around 1987.

To say Dan VandenHeede is the more experienced candidate would be an understatement, but it’s his work ethic, honesty and community involvement that make him a true “best candidate.”

Warren Stewart