Lynn Haanen, was raised in Chippewa Falls, came to Madison to study journalism, then switched to political science. She got a job as a page in the Capitol, then worked in Washington, D.C. for U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson. She returned to Madison in 1977 and worked in the Capitol as an aid before taking a job with the Women’s Transit Authority. She considered herself a socialist and began her public service when she was drafted by friends for the Eighth District seat on the Dane County Board of Supervisors in 1979, and was appointed by Mary Louise Symon. The youngest of the 41-member board, she easily won election in 1980, 1982, and 1984. She earned the respect of conservatives and liberals alike in her work on the County Board’s Finance Committee and as Chair of the Board of Public Welfare that oversaw the work of Dane County Social Services.
In August 1980, prior to living at 123, Haanen participated in the Dane County Board of Supervisors passage of a change in the county’s Affirmative Action Ordinance to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, along with supervisors Judith Blank, Dick Wagner, and Larry Gleason.
In late 1983, County Supervisors Haanen, Wagner, and Kathleen Nichols co-sponsored a resolution supporting a grant application for the study of the impact of AIDS for the University of Wisconsin Medical School and shepherded it through the Dane County Board of Health, an early measure in Wisconsin. At the time, there were 1,000 cases nationwide, and none yet reported in Wisconsin.
During Lynn Haanen’s time at 123, she hosted San Francisco gay rights activist Harry Britt, and worked in constituent relations in Gov. Tony Earl’s office and met Earl Bricker and Tammy Baldwin. Lynn also hosted myriad campaign efforts, including her own and those of David Clarenbach, Robert Kastenmeier, Eighth District Alder Anne Monks, Governor Tony Earl’s re-election, and Tammy Baldwin’s first run for Dane County Board supervisor. Political meetings and discussions were often held throughout the house, frequently in the “bull pen,” the living room where ideas became campaign strategies, according to Clarenbach.
A partial roundup of Democratic Socialists of America elected officials after the November 1982 election includes n Wisconsin, Dismas Becker was elected to the state assembly from Milwaukee, Billy Feitlinger to the Madison city council, and Stuart Levitan, Lynn Haanen and Kathleen Nichols to the Dane County board.