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(Tribune file photo) Mia Love's campaign says Jim Matheson is distorting her record with inaccurate attacks.
Mia Love: From dreams of Broadway to Capitol Hill
Mia Love » The Saratoga Springs mayor has become a rising star in the Republican Party.
First Published Oct 08 2012 08:12 am • Last Updated Jan 14 2013 11:31 pm

The midge is a humble pest.

Growing to about the size of a mosquito, but without the bite, they swarm by the tens of thousands around lake shores across the state.

At a glance

Mia Love bio

Age » 36

Family » Husband, Jason Love, and two daughters and a son.

Education » Bachelor’s in performing arts, University of Hartford Hartt School

Birthplace » Brooklyn, N.Y.

Occupation » Flight attendant, call center manager, fitness instructor and mayor

Hobbies » Music, long-distance running

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It was one such swarm in the summer of 2002, when the residents of the Loch Lomond subdivision in Saratoga Springs decided they had had enough. The nettlesome bugs were blanketing their homes and residents were afraid to open their doors for fear the cloud of insects would gush inside.

So they turned to one of their neighbors, an outspoken young mother transplanted from Connecticut, to go to demand the developers address the problem.

Eventually, the developer relented, agreeing to spray weekly and the midge plague was resolved.

It was a small victory over a tiny bug, but it earned Mia Love a reputation as a neighborhood fixer that grew from there and set her on a path that could ultimately lead this suburban mother of three from her lakeside home to the halls of Congress.

But growing up, Love didn’t dream to be in the spotlights that she basked in as a featured speaker at the Republican National Convention in August. Instead, she dreamed of the lights of Broadway.

Another life » The 1970s were a time of turmoil in Haiti. Poverty was crushing and the island nation’s dictator, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, ruled with an iron fist, subjugating the people through a mix of voodoo mysticism and sheer terror.

His special police force, the Tonton Macoutes — Creole for "bogeymen" — tortured and murdered opponents, sometimes leaving a severed head as a warning.

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As a young man coming home from the movies one evening, Jean Maxime Bourdeau was confronted by the Macoutes. Fearing for his life, he ran and was chased through town until he hid in a drainage pipe, where he cowered through the night.

His mother feared he was dead or kidnapped. But Jean returned home, as Love tells it, determined that his children would not live in fear.

In 1974 Bourdeau, then about 30, received a tourist visa and joined the waves of hundreds of thousands of Haitians fleeing to the United States. He left his wife, Maria, behind with their young son, Jean, and infant daughter, Cynthia, and settled with an aunt and sisters in Brooklyn.

While prohibited for tourists, he — like many immigrants at the time — sought work. His wife joined him a few months later.

Love has told the story of her parents’ journey to American with $10 in their pockets over and over during the campaign, including her speech at the Republican National Convention.

In his first interview since his daughter announced her bid for Congress and became a national political celebrity, Jean Bourdeau, a burly man now in his late 60s with gray stubble on his head and a thick Haitian accent, expressed immense pride at never receiving welfare.

"My family helped me to get my start, to put my feet on the ground," he told The Salt Lake Tribune, speaking outside of his home in Stratford, Conn. He is retired now, but drives a school bus and works other odd jobs. He is a member of the Freemasons and a man who has fallen deeply in love with the United States.

He saw this country as his only hope of providing his children with a stable life.

Bourdeau also confirmed he was only able to legally reunite his family in the United States after he and his wife had their third child, Ludmya "Mia" Bourdeau, who was born in December 1975, an American citizen by birthright.

Her role as the family’s "ticket" to America under a lenient immigration law, which was later repealed has stirred some controversy and raised questions that Love has refused to answer, considering them an unfair attack on her parents.

"Mia is a citizen born in this country and at that time the country was favorable for children," Jean Bourdeau said. "It was very easy to do things legally by immigration way."

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