Dan VandenHeede of Niles has filed to run as a Democratic candidate for Michigan's 78th House district. VandenHeede, 52, received his B.S and M.A. in History from Western Michigan University and recently retired from teaching social studies and coaching at Dowagiac Union High School. At Dowagiac, VandenHeede founded and led the Dowagiac Peace Group and the Dowagiac Greenhouse Club focused on civic involvement and sustainability issues respectively.
In his hometown of Niles, VandenHeede has served on the City Council for over 20 years, serving as a representative on the City’s Parks board, Airport board and currently chairing the Ordinance Committee. He was also a founding member of Nles Community Gardens and on the organizing committee for the Niles skate park. He is currently leading a grassroots movement to hold the Heico Corporation accountable to clean up their abandoned property in Niles through the “Hey Heico! Clean up your mess in Niles” Facebook group.
Dan’s roots go deep in Niles; his mom, Lucy (Mark) VandenHeede’s family has been in the area for over 150 years. Dan and his wife of 31 years, Jodie, returned to Niles after college to raise a family. Their three adult children; Liz, Sam and Kate, are all proud products of Niles Community Schools
Through his experience in local government and public schools over the past 20+ years, VandenHeede has realized that it is not just Michigan’s roads that have been underfunded and left to crumble. Local communities and schools have been asked by the State to do more while facing the brunt of State budget cuts. If we want to attract business, workers and families to Michigan we need to not only invest in our infrastructure, but in our future. To do this we need to restore revenue sharing cuts to local communities and adequately fund public schools.
In order to start rebuilding Michigan’s roads, communities and schools we need to restructure our tax system. The State legislature is going on 10 years of complete Republican control. In this time, Republicans have eliminated the personal property tax for business as well as the Single Business tax, while increasing motor vehicle registration fees and placing a tax on retiree’s pensions. Currently the top 20 percent of earners in Michigan pay a collective State tax rate that is 50 percent lower than the bottom 20 percent of earners.
Dan VandenHeede wants to be part of the change to flip our tax structure and start investing in our collective future. Dan can be contacted through his website, danvandenheede.com, as well as through his Facebook page, Elect Dan VandenHeede.