Dexter’s Representative to the Michigan State Legislature, Donna Lasinski, spoke to an enthusiastic crowd of supporters last Thursday at Null Taphouse as she kicked off her 2018 campaign for re-election.
The banquet room was packed with a standing room only crowd of almost 200 with another 60 or so overflowing into the bar area. There was an excitement in the air and like with the groundhog earlier that day, folks were looking for a hopeful political forecast.
Dexter School Board Vice President and Rotary President, Dr. Julie Schumaker, first met Rep Lasinski ten years ago when they worked together on the Washtenaw County Association of School Boards. Dr. Schumaker introduced Lasinski saying,
“I have known Donna for nearly 10 years since her tenure of the Ann Arbor Board of Education. I have always been impressed by her commitment to service, energy, and collaborative nature. Donna does her homework and knows the facts. She brings people together. AND she listens! Donna is a refreshing change from politicians who are more interested in advancing their own careers. She truly represents those who she serves.”
Lasinski took the podium and thanked the crowd, “I honestly can’t tell you what it’s like to have a room full of people who are here to support you. It’s emotional.”
She then launched right into what she is best known for – her tenacity. She said, “It has been a year of hard work. One of the things I know I am fighting for everyday is freedom and the necessities that freedom requires in this country. I’m fighting for the freedom for everyone in our community, our beliefs.”
Dexter Township resident Brian Maiville, retired school psychologist for Ann Arbor Schools, recalls when he first met Donna Lasinski: “I remember years ago there was a time when they cut summer school because of funding cuts. Well that was the end of that we thought. But when Donna, at that time not a politician, just a concerned parent, learned about it, the next thing I know summer school was back on.” He continues, “That’s why I like Donna. She gets things done. I like her conservative business mindset balanced with a strong social activism regarding concerns of the people.”
Now years later, as a politician, she assures the people at Null she is still an advocate for children. “I fight everyday for every child to be able to choose their own future because their education supports them to do that.”
Sue Goldsmith of Webster Township echoes Maiville in what attracts her to Lasinki’s representation in Lansing. “We like her because of her focus on economic justice. State level government is important because it’s local and affects us more directly than federal.”
I asked Mac McCauley of Lodi Township why he supported Donna Lasinski. He laughed and told me, “Well first of all she assured me she was not involved with the Russians.” But then seriously, he added “She is progressive and has made a good case for well-spent tax dollars over tax cuts.”
A consistent theme throughout the throng of supporters is Donna’s personable style. Kristina Martin of Linden Township says, “She’s down to earth, approachable and realistic about the issues.” Becky Bussineau of Webster Township adds simply, “Donna cares about her constituents.”
In her brief speech to the crowd, Rep Lasinski shared a strategy she learned from her oldest son who plays Division One collegiate soccer. “One of the strategies the team uses when things aren’t quite going their way; they delay, destroy, and develop.”
She explained to the people how she applies this in her work as a representative.
“So when I approach an issue in Lansing, something that looks kind of scary, my first reaction is to delay. Let’s slow this down. The next thing is how do I destroy this? How do I stop this in its tracks? And the next part of this is where all of you come in … for us to stand firm, claim our ground and to be able to develop the policies that we know make a stronger community.”
For many people who have been frustrated with the direction of government recently, this is encouraging. Caroline Altomare of Scio Township says, “What’s happened the last year in our federal government is disgraceful. The last ten years in our state government has been equally disgraceful. Republican obstructionism has just got to stop. Donna works hard. She is fantastic.”
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell echoed the evening’s theme of much hard work to be done. After telling the audience about her frustrations with the current administration in Washington DC and how she sees their policies favoring the rich, she bluntly said “Donna will never stop fighting for those men and women who are getting screwed.”
Dingell emphasized that frustration is not a strategy. Dissatisfaction alone will not bring about the change the people gathered in Null are hoping for. She told the crowd, “We need all of you. It’s not in the bag. It’s a long time between now and November… You all know we have to keep the energy level up. Every vote matters.”
The evening closed with a Q & A on hot topics ranging from gun control to Michigan’s gerrymandering laws, after which Dingell and Lasinski mingled with supporters listening one-on-one to what they had to say.