101-year old Congressional candidate wants progressive policies

03/07/14 Janelle Irwin
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Tags: Joe Newman, Vern Buchanan, Sarasota, Congress

Joe Newman is running for a Sarasota congressional district seat currently held by Vern Buchanan. As a progressive candidate, Joe hopes to unseat the conservative Republican. As a write-in, he’s seen as maybe a fringe candidate. But that’s not all – Joe is 101 years old.

Here's a list Newman sent WMNF of some interesting information about this unique candidate:

• His parents were exiled to Siberia by the Tzar in the late 1800s for political dissension. He comes from a family tradition of standing up for what they believe in. They were allowed to leave Siberia, and came to America in 1902 or 1903.

• He and his wife, Sophie (deceased) were a driving force behind modern programs for the developmentally disabled. Their only child, Rita Jo (deceased), was developmentally disabled. At that time there were no resources for families like theirs. Joe and Sophie, along with a group of other parents with families in the same situation and $24, founded The Logan School for Retarded Children in South Bend, Indiana in the 1950s. That school is now The Logan Center which operates on a 14 million a year annual budget. There is more info on their history here. There is a beautiful video done for The Logan Center's 60th anniversary highlighting Joe and Sophie's involvement here. Joe is extremely passionate about his work with The Logan Center and loves to talk about it.

• He was one of the early employees of the Social Security Administration. One of his first tasks was setting up the filing cabinets. Part of his job was to go out in the field and convince people that Social Security was a good thing.

• His birth date is January 13, 1913. He throws a heck of a party every year!

• He graduated from Notre Dame in 1936 with a Bachelors Degree in Accounting.

• He has a wonderful girlfriend, named Anita. Joe and Anita live with Anita's daughter Joan (who is just as wonderful as her mother!). He has grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren from his second long term relationship with Belle (deceased.)

• He wrote the foreword for both editions of his grandson, author and teacher, Daniel Rubin's book, "How Our Government Really Works Despite What They Tell You." Joe encouraged Daniel to start writing and it based on the number of awards the book has won, it seems he was right.

• He is the leader of the local Nation Magazine Discussion Group, which meets at the Selby Library in Sarasota and is a member of The Socrates Cafe in Sarasota.

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