GARY — An attorney and investor who calls herself an advocate for the Indiana Dunes and animals has entered the race for the 1st Congressional District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky after three decades.
Sabrina Haake announced this week she is entering the race, calling herself an “environmentalist who wants to transform Northwest Indiana’s economy by transitioning the region to a 100 percent renewable energy, carbon-free system, with a fully modernized electrical grid, expansion of industrial solar units and wind farms, and investments in bio-conversion and zero emission technologies.”
A combined agenda of climate and growth is the “catalyst for increasing well-paid and sustainable jobs,” especially in construction, Haake said.
Specific projects she’d like to develop include building a solar highway from Chicago to Michigan City, similar to the Daejon-Sejong solar bike path in South Korea.
“Solar highways are solar-powered bike paths. They generate enough electricity to power the lights along the highway, with intermittent and underground off/on ramps. Connecting Michigan City to Chicago would be a boon to all NWI towns in between, and encourage environmentalists from all over the world to come check out the amazing biodiversity in Indiana.”
Other economic drivers would include wind farms in rural areas of Lake, Porter and La Porte counties; development of solar farms; and expansion of urban/vertical/hydroponic farming initiatives, she said.
“All three counties in our region have at least one large, underutilized building that could be converted into a profitable hydroponic farm.”
A former Governor’s Fellow under Gov, Robert Orr, Haake was later appointed by Gov. Evan Bayh to head a division of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. She graduated from the Indiana University School of Law, concluding her studies in Shanghai, China. After law school she became general counsel of Tampico, Inc. (formerly Marbo, Inc.), where she helped expand the family beverage business into emerging markets around the world.
In 1997, she “discovered the dunes in Gary” and has been an active real estate investor there ever since, she said. “I’ve rescued about 35 houses, and about 200 abused and neglected dogs, in the last 20 years. I practice law to pay for my real estate and rescue habit.”
An animal advocate, Haake lobbied from 2017-2019 for an ordinance to outlaw leaving dogs on chains for life, and started the Gary Animal Welfare Coalition to get food and resources to pet owners who can’t afford to feed pets.
She was active in campaigning for Gary’s new mayor, Jerome Prince, who takes office Jan. 1, and serves as senior advisor on the mayoral transition team.
“Great things are coming to Northwest Indiana, I can feel it!” Haake said.
Her website, SabrinaHaakeForCongress.com, offers “a history lesson on why our democracy needs help before it’s too late,” she said.
“The Constitution was wrought from extreme adversity... It was written at a time when murderous foreign soldiers could knock on your door, take your food, and sleep in your bed. It’s a living and breathing blueprint to the greatest human experiment of all time … while our democracy is under serious attack, our climate is in a state of emergency and we don’t have time to waste.”
Haake, 56, lives in Gary with her wife, IT exec Jill Bellak.
—From staff reports
Five Democrats have officially declared their intent to seek the 1st Congressional District seat in 2020. No Republicans have formally announced candidacies.
• Sabrian Haake, Gary attorney
• Jim Harper, Valparaiso attorney
• Thomas McDermott Jr., Hammond mayor
• Frank Mrvan, North Township Trustee, Gary
• Mara Candelaria Reardon, State Representative, East Chicago