BY STEPHANIE COSBY, News Editor
Current UM-Dearborn Student Government President David Knezek officially announced his campaign for the District 11 Michigan State Representative on Friday, February 24 at the VFW 7575 in Garden City.
Initially headed into the public education field, Knezek said he was inspired to run for office after “witnessing the effects of last year’s state budget cuts” on Michigan’s education system. “Most of [the students] don’t have the necessary resources to be successful in the classroom,” he said, pointing to lack of books and other materials in particular.
Knezek was sharing his frustrations about the education system with a State Representative at “Restorative Justice,” a UM-Dearborn event, when encouragement came. “She finally told me to stop complaining about it and start doing something about it; she told me to run for office,” he said. “I took a few days to think about what she said and then decided now was the time to stand up for my community and my colleagues.”
While Knezek plans to tackle several hot-button issues, education is top priority. “Our public education system needs a systemic overhaul in order to ensure that we’re giving students options as they progress in their educational careers,” he said. This includes not only increasing access to four-year universities, but also bolstering “high quality vocational training” for those who choose a different career pathway. Knezek feels it is important to train workers for the variety of skilled labor positions still available in the state and country.
District 11 includes Dearborn Heights, Garden City, Inkster, Livonia, and Westland. While Knezek has focused primarily on these regions, he said there has been an “extraordinary” response from the overall community.
“Everywhere I go… people are looking for an alternative to the negativity that dominates Lansing politics and Wayne County these days… I think for many people, it’s encouraging to see a fresh face that legitimately cares about the well-being of our state and the potential we have for our future,” he said. “Staying positive is a huge priority.”
While the official announcement will not come until the campaign kickoff on Friday, Knezek has already been busy networking and getting to know community members. A typical day begins at 4 or 5 a.m. with homework, followed by morning meetings, classes, community meetings or one-on-one meetings, and studying.
The next few months will be even crazier. “I plan on visiting with all the voters of the district two to three times before the primary,” he said.
While community response has been overwhelmingly positive, Knezek says his status as political newcomer has presented a big challenge. “It’s initially hard to be taken seriously by those who have held elected office for so many years, even decades,” he said. Knezek credits his belief in and habit of “persistent professionalism” as the key to overcoming such obstacles.
“Once I get the chance to meet with and share my vision for Michigan’s future with others, I think they quickly warm up to my message of leadership, courage, and integrity,” he said. “If elected, I look forward to bringing that mentality of persistent professionalism to Lansing in order to cut through the partisan divide and start working towards a better Michigan.”
Students can purchase tickets to Friday’s event for $30 by contacting Alex Yerkey at 313-451-4586 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be served at 6:45 p.m. Livonia City Councilwoman Maureen Brosnan, Garden City Mayor Randy Walker, and State Representative Harvey Santana will be offer remarks before Knezek takes the stage.
Knezek encourages UM-Dearborn students to take advantage of this opportunity to network with elected officials and participate in the creation of Michigan’s future.
“Our generation needs to take the reins and start having our voices heard within the state of Michigan, so it means a lot to me to have many students in attendance,” he said. “A great show of force will send a strong message to Lansing that we’re taking notice and ready to lead.”
For more information about Knezek and his campaign, visit www.voteknezek.com.