By MARY ANN HOLLEY
Former Glaziers Local 513 Financial Secretary Brian Stiens says he’s been involved in Democratic politics for as long as he’s been a union member. He’s done everything from walking door-to-door for labor candidates to attending legislative sessions in the state capital.
Now, after taking early retirement, he has thrown his “hard hat” into the ring as a candidate for state representative in Missouri District 105 on the November ballot. The district includes much of St. Peters and parts of St. Charles County.
“I am going to give this campaign my all to flip a seat previously held by an enemy of working people,” Stiens said in an interview at a recent Tri-County Labor Club meeting. “I will do the heavy lifting to win, and I will be on Labor’s side in Jeff City.”
Stiens, a resident of St. Peters, has been a member of the Glaziers Union since 1980, and served as Financial Secretary from 1991 through June 2015. The Glaziers Local is affiliated with Painter’s District Council 58.
“Politics is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve been to every Labor rally, looked at the stage and said, ‘I need to be up there,’” Stiens said. “During every speech, legislators would say, ‘We need you guys and gals. We’ve got to get some help up here.’”
Stiens said that as a single father raising three children, it wasn’t practical for him to be gone from home for extended periods. Financial Secretary wasn’t a full-time position, and he worked in the trade outside every day.
“I’ve never missed a union meeting in all these years,” he said. “I made provisions for the kids to make that work.”
Stiens said he first thought serving as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention would be a good way to get his foot “back in the political waters,” Then he made the call to Morton Todd, a member of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562, who also serves as president of the St. Charles County Democratic Central Committee.
“He said it was crazy out there because there were few labor-friendly candidates running for state representative positions,” Stiens said. “He said my district was open, and this was just four days prior to the close of filings.”
The large district covers most of St. Peters and crosses the Page Avenue Extension into St. Charles.
“I think this election is going to make changes. Typically, Democrats do get out to vote, and with the Bernie Sanders movement energizing the younger folks, we have a chance,” Stiens said. “I think with it being a Presidential election year, it will bring voters out – especially the Labor community.”
LABOR, SCHOOLS AND DRUG PREVENTION
Stiens said teachers’ wages and public education funding in Missouri are “a joke.”
“The teachers who I have known have been number one. My two boys are living proof. It takes a teacher to inspire children with learning,” he said. “My daughter is the super brain who was inspired by her teachers to become a teacher. She wants to teach French, so she is living in Paris to learn that culture. Now, she’s teaching English to French-speaking children.”
Stiens added, “We have a short time to make something work. We’ve got to find a way to reach across the aisle for the students’ overall well-being. Let’s find some way to get on the same page and do something for schools.”
Stiens said drugs and the heroin epidemic in St. Charles County are hot topics for him after a close friend died from a prescription drug overdose.
“There are people doctor shopping, and there’s nothing on the books in Missouri that says they can’t,” Stiens said.
His support of labor needs no explanation, but, Stiens said, “I will give it my all, if elected, to stop these ongoing attacks against labor and working men and women.”
Stiens has twin sons, Blake, a United States Marine serving at 29 Palms, California. In 2015, Blake was inducted at the St. Peters Veteran’s Day Celebration. His other son, Clayton, is an apprentice Union carpenter and an Eagle Scout. His daughter, Brook is a foreign language teacher and student.
“I think everyone knows I’ll do my best when I say I’m running for state rep,” Stiens said. “I’ve had a lot of people help me and be there with good advice. It wasn’t easy raising the kids as a single father, while trying to make time to pursue my union work and political passion, but it worked out in the end.
“I don’t script anything. I haven’t run for public office, but I’ve stood up before my union members many times. When I talked about running at Tri-County, I stopped and looked and nobody was chatting at the tables. I appreciated their respect, and I want to deliver!”