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Autism didn't stop this politician from fulfilling his dream

Penobscot County Treasurer John David Hiatt was told it was a "fool's errand" to run for office, but he's no stranger to proving people wrong.

BANGOR, Maine — Breaking down barriers and erasing stigma-- that's what one Bangor man has done just by following his dream to serve the public.

John David Hiatt is the Penobscot County Treasurer and a member of the Bangor school board, but those titles alone are not what makes him so impressive.

Hiatt was told he would never graduate high school, hold a job, or be able to get his license. 

That's because Hiatt was autism. He also suffered brain injuries as a young boy. 

"They didn't think I'd be able to learn to read or write. I was 13-years of age before I learned those skills," says Hiatt. 

Hiatt says he's spent his life proving people wrong, and running for office would be no exception.

"I always had a desire to be a public servant... I didn't want to allow having the disability of autism to stop me... I wanted to prove to people that I could run and I could win."

Campaigning was challenging for him, and he recalls being hurt when someone called him "the special needs candidate." Even so, he remained focused on his strengths and told voters to think of one of America's favorite sitcom characters when heading to the polls.

"I told people, think of Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory! He's socially awkward and not good with people, but he's really smart. When you go to the voting booths, just think of Sheldon."

Hiatt says the position of treasurer is a perfect fit for him. "I'm really really good with numbers and I love budgets."

He also says he will never have an issue with transparency, but the nature of his disability. 

"Sometimes I'm way too open and honest, and that's part of having autism."

"If someone asks me a question, I'm going to give a very blunt answer, I'm not going to hide it."

Hiatt is excited to be representing the Autistic community and hopes his accomplishments will show other people with Autism that they can follow their dreams as well. 

"No matter what your disability is, you can contribute to society. Everybody has a place."

April is National Autism Awareness Month.

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