As a Hillsdale College student 15 years ago, Andrew Fink rocked out on the guitar with his band, Street Fight, and contemplated moving to Nashville to pursue music professionally.
“Music was my scene. I alternated between long hair and a shaved head with sideburns down to here,” Fink recalled, gesturing to his jaw. “That was kind of the vibe we were all going for.”
A lot has changed since then. Fink has traded his punk style for a gray suit and dark-rimmed glasses. From his law office at 42 Union St., just steps away from Rough Draft, he dreams not of Nashville but rather Lansing, Michigan.
Fink is running as the Republican nominee to represent Michigan’s 58th District in the State House of Representatives.
“My wife and I have five kids. As a co-creator of the next generation, I decided that if I didn’t at least attempt to influence the situation for the better, I would probably regret it forever,” he said. “That’s why I’m running.”
Born and raised in blue-collar Ypsilanti, Michigan, Fink was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school. An avid sports fan, he grew up watching University of Michigan college basketball games and wrestling matches. Despite his love for the maize and blue, however, attending a big school was never on the table.
“I didn’t even think about it and reject the idea,” he said. “It just never occurred to me.”
Instead, Fink wanted to go to a liberal arts school within a day’s drive from home.
“I determined pretty quickly after visiting Hillsdale that if I wanted to study politics, this is where I wanted to be,” Fink said. “It became my No. 1 choice.”
Fink brought 45 community college credits to Hillsdale, allowing him to graduate in three years. He majored in politics and his favorite professors were Mickey Craig and Nathan Schlueter, who helped form his philosophy on the Constitution, government, and America’s founding principles. He worked in the Writing Center, served on Student Federation, performed with Street Fight, and, during his last semester of college, joined the Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity.
Following his graduation in 2006, Fink worked on U.S. Representative Tim Walberg ®’s successful congressional campaign. A month after the election, he took the LSAT exam and eventually went to the University of Michigan, his top choice for law school.
Fink was in his first year at Michigan when he called Lauren Grover ’07, a friend from his college days who was living in Texas, and the two began talking regularly. A year and a half later, they were married, and that winter they welcomed their first baby.
As a married man, new father, and law student, Fink had plenty on his plate, but he still felt called to do more.
“I had always thought about joining the Marines,” Fink said.
The military is in his blood: One of his mother’s cousins and Fink’s childhood role model was a sergeant in the Marines, and another cousin was a colonel in the Air Force. Fink grew up viewing military service as an “honorable and impressive and American way to be.” After the 9/11 attacks, Fink wanted to join himself — despite being only 16.
“I told my mother I was going to talk to a recruiter. I remember walking out of the house and down to the recruiting station in Ypsilanti and my mother calling my dad going, ‘Do you know where your son is going right now?’” he recalled with amusement. “I think my dad was less freaked out by that idea than my mom was.”
Luckily for her, the recruiting station had moved and Fink didn’t know where it was. But his desire to serve never went away. As a law student, Fink recalled that the military needs lawyers too, so he joined the Marine Corps and worked as a judge advocate.
Although Fink has retired from active duty, his love of country hasn’t changed. It’s what inspired him to run for office.
“I think a big thing that’s happening right now is a fundamental difference in how we look at American political life,” Fink said. “I come back to a rededication to respecting our citizens as free and equal to the government officials representing them and respecting the rights of these people to their own liberty and pursuit of happiness.”
A self-described Christian and social and fiscal conservative, Fink lists his top issues as dismantling economic centralization, promoting the right to life, and avoiding poor government financial decisions. Ultimately, however, his passion for Hillsdale motivates him more than anything else.
“If I say, ‘It’s the people,’ will you think it’s disingenuous?” Fink wondered, referring to the town’s longtime motto. “The reason we live here is because we want to live in Hillsdale. It’s because we want to raise our kids in this area. We just love the community and feel more at home here.”
Fink hopes his sentiment will resonate with voters come November.
“As an adult,” he said, “I’ve basically spent all of my life trying to get back to Hillsdale.”