From serving time to hopes of serving Congress

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John Wannamaker (Photo courtesy of John Wannamaker)

After four years in the Marine Corps and seven and a half in prison, John Wannamaker hopes to spend at least the next two years in Washington D.C.

The inspirational speaker announced his candidacy for Texas’ 26th congressional district, currently held by Michael Burgess. Wannamaker will compete with Linsey Fagan, Will Fisher and Michael Calloway for the Democratic nomination to campaign for the seat. The primary is scheduled for next March, and the seat will be up for the November 2018 general election.

Despite entering the race months later than his current competitors, Wannamaker said he decided to run in January after seeing President Donald Trump’s cabinet selections and realizing the elitism the federal government was presenting.

“No one in that cabinet has ever taken out a student loan,” he said. “There are a lot of things people in the district are going through that our representatives don’t understand. How can you make decisions for people you don’t understand?”

Wannamaker said he ended up in leadership positions everywhere he went, from school to Boy Scouts to his four–year stint in the Marines. In 2005, he plead guilty to several fraud charges related to 3KTrade, a phony investment program he owned. He was sentenced to nine years in prison but got out in seven years and seven months.

Even on the inside, Wannamaker said he found himself in leadership positions, serving as a suicide counselor for fellow inmates. He wrote a book over the course of his incarceration, “The Voice from the Inside: Failure Brings New Knowledge,” which, in addition to motivational speaking work, provided him with enough income to build himself up from a convict to a congressional candidate in three years.

After his release, he continued to be put into leadership positions, becoming the parent-teacher organization president at his children’s new school and a deacon at his local church.

Wannamaker said his platform is based on maintaining accessibility to basic needs and fighting back against policies like health care repeals that would leave some Americans uninsured. He also has several ideas for prison reform. He said light needs to be shined on how harsh prison can be, as well as how harsh life after prison can be.

“They put it behind a wall, and now we can’t see it. So now, we don’t know what prisoners have gone through,” he said. “We don’t know how families have been affected. We don’t know how much punishment has been received, so we don’t accept them. We don’t have that next scene in the movie where we say, ‘You know what, we need to do something to help this person get back on their feet.’ We don’t do that.”

Wannamaker’s campaign can be found on Facebook and his campaign website is at votewannamaker.com. Primary elections are scheduled for March 6, 2018. Local businesswoman Veronica Birkenstock has declared she will run against Burgess in a Republican primary.

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