Stu Whitney gives District 9 Democratic House candidate Michael Saba the kind of press every candidate wishes for. World traveler, development consultant for the Avera McKennan Foundation,promoter of international clinics, Peace Corps veteran, published author, escapee from Saddam Hussein (moral of that story: study foreign languages!)… Whitney’s story of Saba as “international man of mystery” shows a man who would bring unique experience and vision to the South Dakota Legislature.
I won’t attempt to retell all of the remarkable encounters Whitney gets from Saba. I will focus on Saba’s two astute political observations. First, Saba, who now substitute-teaches in Sioux Falls, pokes certain legislators for their misaligned priorities:
“When some legislators are more concerned about daylight savings time than taking care of education for our kids, it worries me” [link added; Michael Saba, in Stu Whitney, “Michael Saba’s Last Stand,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.04.15].
Yet Saba looks at the very legislators whose policies he criticizes and sees a path to finding common understanding and working together, just as he’s done in his vast international experience with far more diverse partners:
During the past legislative session, Saba said he was disturbed to see so many bills that critics viewed as discriminatory against the LGBT community.
“I’m a fixer,” he says. “I build bridges, and this is just another cultural issue as I see it. Rather than picking fights and pointing out the enemy, we need to talk to each other in more meaningful ways and find out exactly where each side is coming from. That’s what I think is lacking” [Whitney, 2016.04.15].
With that experience and outlook, Michael Saba will be hard to beat. Even as a freshman legislator, he would make a fine elder statesman.