The "Placemat Campaign" For U.S. Congress
Why is Huck running?
BY W. EDWARD WENDOVER
Why would "Huck" run for Congress?
After all, Mike Huckleberry is "just" a restaurateur and a market owner... a small business-owner who never thought of running for public office before.
But he's always been deeply committed to his family and community.
As a noted community activist, he has served in many capacities to help his neighbors. Now Huckleberry is building a reputation as someone who wants to bring jobs to our Country -- he will never be known for supporting legislation that exports jobs.
He's on the Greenville Opportunity Task Force which has gained national recognition for its efforts to save the town as the Electrolux Corp. announced it was axing 2,700 jobs to move operations to Mexico. He was Cedar Springs Chamber of Commerce president (twice yet!) and is active on the Executive Board of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (a state-wide political powerhouse).
So what made this busy guy drop everything to run in Michigan's 4th Congressional District, which stretches from Greenville to Saginaw to Traverse City?
"I never had any desire to be a politician. But I couldn't believe our great nation would fall from good to so bad and so fast," Huckleberry explained while filling trays of water pitchers and cleaning tables at his busy restaurant. "Our country's policies are hurting workers, farmers and small business owners. This downslide will only end when we elect people that have the courage to stand up for America and American workers."
Greenville has become a "poster child" as an American small "hometown" that is suffering from a devastating economy. That can be described as "Huck's" wake-up call. Not only is the town's largest employer pulling up roots on 2,700 families, but the impact on the town's many other businesses has led community leaders to forsake party lines and urge new economic policies.
At his restaurant, "Huck" began his "Placemat Campaign" after listening to the local workers, farmers, moms, small business owners, and leaders lament the fate of Greenville and America. One of the placemats asks the question: How fair is it that America tells its farmers they cannot use a certain pesticide, but the country allows in foreign vegetables grown with that chemical? Many patrons of the popular Huckleberry's restaurant in Greenville have added their own comments on the economy, the war in Iraq and other national issues.
"I can't quote some of the comments here," Huck smiled, while announcing his candidacy to nearly 1,000 applauding fans at a "Show Me the Jobs Rally" at Greenville High School Gymnasium. "But we've sent every last one of them to President Bush."
One small businessman in his restaurant said, "I own three tool and die shops, but I can't compete any more. I voted Republican last time; I won't be this time. What can I do to help Huck?"
The placemats weren't designed for Huck to enter politics -- he "just wanted to make a change." But once the restaurant-goers' comments grew, customers began to ask: "Huck, why don't you run?" Now the "Placemat Campaign" has made national news.
But it's just common sense for a man like Huckleberry -- who was recognized last year by the Greenville Chamber of Commerce for "Making a Difference." He was also voted "Citizen of the Year" in Cedar Springs in 1987. He is married to Linda; they have five children and one grandchild.