Wisconsin Auto Glass Shop Owner Runs for City Council
February 3, 2011

Mike Lester, the owner of Dependable Auto Glass in Oregon, Wis., may not have a background in politics, but that hasn't stopped him from getting involved in his community's run for city council. In fact, having owned his own auto glass business for the last ten years is what encouraged him in the run.

"As a business leader it's important to be involved in the community, says Lester, a first-time candidate in Madison, Wis.'s 13th District city council election. "Specifically the city government over the last couple of years has gotten a bad reputation with the local community that they're anti-business … I'm self-employed and can lobby for businesses in the area."

Lester, who's been in the industry for 20 years, says one of his missions is to educate other small businesses about available government programs.

"Local government has a lot of resources to offer small businesses and small businesses need these resources, but nobody in the city government is connecting these local area businesses with the services provided," says Lester.

But he hasn't forgotten his glass industry roots-and if elected to the position, which would be part-time and unpaid-this won't change.
"I'm a small operation, it's just me and two other people," says Lester. "I still put in glass, so whether I win this election or not really doesn't matter. It's really about the common person on the street getting involved in local politics and trying to make a difference."

He also encourages others to consider doing the same. "It's imperative that local businesses, such as glass shops, get involved in the city and local government," he says. "The automotive industry has taken a huge hit since 2008. We've stabilized and hopefully made it through the worst, but we need to promote the automotive industry and the auto glass industry."

Though Lester is new to politics, he's no stranger to the spotlight. In March 2007, he helped local police locate a hit-and-run suspect, when he noticed that a windshield replacement job he'd conducted didn't align with the story provided by the customer, who'd claimed to have struck a deer.

The primary election for the position will be held on February 15.

Need more info and analysis about the issues?
Subscribe to AGRR Magazine.