State Representative Harvey Santana is a native Detroiter who attended Detroit Public Schools and graduated from Chadsey High School in 1990. Upon graduation, he joined the United States Navy where he served as a Petty Officer Third Class. During his enlistment Santana was involved in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and relief efforts in Bosnia, Somalia and Haiti.
Santana is the oldest of two children and the first college graduate in his family. He began his studies at Henry Ford Community College while working at a local hotel, changing sheets and washing dishes. Later, he attended Eastern Michigan University where he graduated in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, and later with a master’s degree in public administration in 2005.
His involvement with the City of Detroit has spanned several years, beginning with his first job as a community organizer for the Census 2000 campaign. His role was to reach out to the historically undercounted groups for an accurate count of Detroit’s population.
After the census Santana worked for Councilman Kenneth V. Cockrel, Jr. as a legislative assistant. As an aide to Councilman Cockrel, he learned about the issues facing the city and how the legislative branch of government plays a role in the management of the city. Councilman Cockrel, who was impressed with Santana’s desire to serve the public, recommended that he apply to the Michigan Political Leadership Program, where he could become better prepared to one day seek public office. Santana was accepted and completed the program in 2002.
Santana then went on to work in the private sector as a transportation planner for an engineering firm. His experience in the field of civil engineering has provided him the experience and the understanding of transportation issues related to Detroit and Southeast Michigan.
Santana’s community involvement has focused on the creation of the first mountain bike and nature trail at Rouge Park. His vision resulted in a mass cleanup of the park and the building of the trail. Santana also served as the President of the Warrendale Community Organization where he volunteered his time in support of the organization’s goals of neighborhood revitalization and cleanup efforts. Santana is a mentor to neighborhood youth and spends his time mentoring teenagers by sharing his experiences at local high schools and working with at-risk youth in summer programs.
Harvey Santana is a devoted husband to his wife, Sylvia, and dedicated father to his daughter, Sofia. He is a member of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church and a Warrendale resident. In his free time, Santana enjoys the challenge of running marathons, mountain biking and competing in triathlons.