Richard Hanna was elected in November 2010 to represent the 24th District of (upstate) New York. At 20, he became the primary supporter of his mother and four sisters after his father died suddenly. For eight years, he supported the family and paid off its substantial debt. Hanna earned an honors degree in economics and political science. He founded Hanna Construction, which he ran for 27 years. Today, Hanna serves on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, where he is vice chair of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, and on the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management and the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials. We talked in his Capitol Hill office.
You had a construction business before you became a Congressman.
We did earthworks, roads, water … all heavy construction, everything. All things infrastructure … lots of concrete work. I taught the business to myself. I started when I was 20. This wasn’t a family business, although my dad was a carpenter and I’d been around construction a little bit. He built houses. I got out of college, I was broke, I had an old backhoe and I started doing the basic home stuff, and then, not too far out, within a year or two, I was doing all sort of commercial work … did it for almost 30 years. I lived in a very difficult community to grow a big business, small, but gradually I learned that the more I could do, the easier it was to stay busy in a small place. In other words, I was really diverse.