Neil Burghard knows his son Duane is passionate, but even he was taken aback by a decision Duane made 15 years ago.
“In 1991, Duane came to visit in Chicago and started complaining about the government,” he said. “I told him that he couldn’t change anything without getting into it. So he went home and ran for Congress.”
Duane Burghard’s 1992 bid for Missouri’s 9th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives didn’t succeed.
He entered the race as an independent candidate because the Democrats had already chosen their nominee. He placed last in a four-man race, garnering 2.8 percent of the vote.
“I had no children, no money, no mortgage and no chance,” Burghard remembers.
When Burghard told his father last year that he would try for the seat again — this time as a Democrat — his father made him a deal.
“I told him I would leave my nice, comfortable retirement and come down to help with the last three months of his campaign,” Neil Burghard said.
So now, he’s here and loving it. “It’s something exciting to watch.”
“When I’m with him in a little town and someone pushes a check for $100 in my hands and says, ‘I want this to help your son,’” Neil Burghard said, “I can’t tell you what it does to me to see him inspire that in people, when people give from the heart.”
Duane’s wife, Mara Burghard, describes her husband as passionate as well.
“His enthusiasm is contagious, and it carries over to all parts of his life,” she said.
That includes the work he does at his church, First Church of Christ-Scientist, where he teaches Sunday school. It’s one of his favorite things to do.
“They’ll have to dynamite me out of the position,” he said.
Katie Ferrell, a former Sunday school student of Burghard’s, said he allows students into his life and turns his own life experiences into lessons.
“He’s truly inspired me,” she said. “The one lesson he’s taught me is that life is worth living. He makes you want to enjoy it.”
It was at church that Mara and Duane Burghard met 23 years ago, after Duane had moved to Columbia from northern Chicago to attend MU. They’ve been married for almost 17 years.
That year, 1983, was a watershed time for Duane Burghard. “I started college, joined the Navy and met my wife all in the same week,” he often says.
After graduating with a degree in political science on a Navy ROTC scholarship, Burghard began his service and cultivated an interest in Macintosh computers. He soon channeled that interest into various entrepreneurial endeavours, including Tranquility Net, Mac OS Radio Network and MacXprts.
Mara Burghard worked as a high school teacher in Fulton and Columbia, winning a Teacher of the Year award in 1998. After teaching, she became the chief operations officer for their business, MacXprts, and acts as its chief executive officer while her husband is campaigning.
“I’m humbled by his faith in me to run the company,” Mara Burghard said. “People don’t understand what a great sacrifice it is to give up your birth-child, but he’s doing it in favor of doing something good for the country and for his girls.”
It’s clear that family is the driving force behind Duane Burghard. Even though he’s pouring a lot of energy into his campaign, he still spends as much time with his wife and children as possible. They sometimes travel with him, and they love to bake together. At night, he likes to read to his daughters and sing their favorite bedtime songs.
“I sing songs from The Beatles’ ‘White Album’ to them,” Duane Burghard said. “Taylor’s song is ‘I Will’ and Jordan’s is ‘Goodnight.’ I have an eclectic music collection and affection for music, and I share it with my children.”
Burghard and his family take yearly trips to Hawaii. He enjoys diving, snorkeling and scuba-diving.
The Burghards are also experts at board games such as Taboo and the old TV gameshow “Password,” which they frequently play with other family members.
“We have our own language,” Mara Burghard said. They also like to speak “movie talk,” slinging creative quips and quotes from their favorite movies, such as “When Harry Met Sally” and “On Golden Pond.”
Before he entered this year’s race for Congress, Burghard said he envisioned his daughters approaching him with questions about the problems of our time. He worried he wouldn’t have the answers.
“I’m running for this office for better answers for our children,” he said.
With that in mind, Burghard is making fiscal responsibility his major priority. He said he doesn’t want to make future generations carry the burden of present mistakes.
“We’ve gone from record surpluses to record debts,” he said. “Our government is too extensive, too expansive and too intrusive.”
Campaign phone: 446-2192
Campaign Web site: burghardforcongress.com
PERSONAL: 41 years old, married to Mara, CEO of MacXprts; they have two daughters.
OCCUPATION: Entrepreneur in technology-based companies. For the past 15 years he was the CEO of his company, MacXprts, until he started seeking office.
EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree from MU in political science in 1987. Post-graduate degree from the U.S. Navy’s Surface Warfare Officer School.
Reader, chairman of the board and Sunday school teacher at First Church of Christ-Scientist. Volunteered with Columbia Aeronautics and Space Association, a program that uses simulation exercises and models to teach about space exploration. He is also a member of the American Legion and the Disabled American Veterans’ Commanders Club. He enjoys free diving, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking and reading scientific journals.