The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, September 03, 2004

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

Gleason, LaSalle to oversee Mighty Mac 
LANSING – Two union iron workers, Patrick F. “Shorty” Gleason and Jon “Jack” LaSalle, were appointed to the Mackinac Bridge Authority on Aug. 11 by Gov. Jennifer Granholm

Gleason, of Davison, is business manager and financial secretary/treasurer of Iron Workers Local 25. LaSalle, of Marquette, is a field representative for the Michigan State Building and Construction Trades Council. Both were appointed to represent Democrats for a term expiring June 30, 2010.

The authority creates rules and regulations in order to provide and maintain a system of services to ensure the safe operation of the Mackinac Bridge. These appointments are subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.

Local 174’s Bennett eeks out primary win
MUSKEGON – Local 174’s Doug Bennett learned a few things as a first-time state House of Representatives candidate on his way to winning the Democratic nomination for the 92nd District in the Aug. 3 primary:

Work hard. Don’t assume anything. Campaigns are expensive. And perhaps most importantly: a lot of work needs to be done to motivate union households to vote in the primary.

Bennett squeaked out a win in the Democratic primary by 83 votes out of 6,500 that were cast. He said the margin would have been much greater if the members of identified union households had turned out to vote on Aug. 3.

“For some reason, people aren’t motivated to go to the polls in primaries, but in this case, and in a lot of elections, the primary is probably more important than the general election,” Bennett said. “I think one of the main lessons is that we have to do a better job of getting union members and their families out to vote.”

Bennett, who retired from his position as business manager at Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Local 174 in the end of January, moved immediately into candidate mode. He figures he knocked on 4,000 doors and made running for office a full-time job in the six months before the primary.

“I wasn’t the only one working to get me elected,” he said. “There were lots of individual members who made contributions, from $20 to $500. There were people from our local and from all the building trades who volunteered. There was really a lot of effort expended here, and I’m very grateful.” He figured the primary campaign cost about $54,000.

Bennett said he was confident of a victory but had hoped to win by a greater margin against three Democratic challengers. “I worked up until 6:30 p.m. on Election Day and I thought that might have been overkill,” he said. “But the people who have experience in elections told me that you never know, and you never stop working. And as it turned out they were right. This was a nail-biter.”

The battle to win the 92nd seat isn’t over. The district has a strong Democratic base, but as Bennett learned in the primary, a candidate can’t assume anything.

“I’m going to work hard to win the general election,” he said. “If I’m elected, I think I can do some good for the 92nd District and for organized labor.”