Answers from the GOP candidates for the 101st
With Scott VanSingel terming out from the state House of Reps, four candidates on the Republican side and a lone Democrat are vying to take his place in Lansing in November.
But first there’s a primary to get past.
Not for Amanda Siggins (D) of Cadillac. She has all but punched her ticket to November by virtue of being a solo candidate.
On the GOP side however it’s a four horse race with (alphabetically) Joseph Fox, Chad Pierce, Dianne Schindlbeck, and Kelly Smith looking for voters to send them on to the next round.
As we have in other elections, N3 sent out a series of questions to the Republican quartet of candidates to help our readers get to know the folks asking for their votes. In October we will do the same (albeit with different questions) when Ms. Siggins and the Republican choice will be going head to head
In doing this it was our goal to get a sense of what leadership qualities each might possess. Thus some of our queries might seem different than the usual posers that get asked .
We sought questions from a small group of community members who:
In the interest of fairness we will stagger the order of responses for each question.
If elected, what steps would you strategically take to earn and gain the immediate respect of your fellow legislators as an incoming freshman in Lansing?
Here are a few things that I would do:
The first step is outreach and proactive listening. This means reaching out to members of both parties to understand their legislative goals and needs of their district and what plan they feel is best to reach these goals. The second step is to educate those same members on the needs of our district and how their plans would impact us. This means having a concrete and defined discussion on potential impacts and how to mitigate those downsides. The third step is being open to reasonable compromise.
Having been politically active for several years, including spending significant time in Lansing with various electeds, I am known to many of the House membership. Their knowledge of my leadership skills makes me hopeful to obtain Committee assignments that are important to my District. Topics such as agriculture and small business would be priorities. I am also on the staff of Senator Jon Bumstead (District 34)
I have already begun this process, I have spent time in Lansing watching and learning some of the processes. I have met with those incumbents that will have leadership positions to begin the process of getting to know one another. I have met with other candidates in other districts with hopes of forming coalitions before we get to Lansing to ensure a smooth transition so that we can get right to the business at hand. I am well prepared to get to work and be the voice for rural Michigan.
What is your definition of Common Ground and how would you achieve or find common ground in this divisive legislative environment? Be specific.
My definition of common ground is policies that are mutually beneficial for those involved and where negative impacts are mitigated. As a specific example, we are looking at widening the use of renewable energy in the state to reduce the economic harm of rising gas prices. However the residents in these areas have a significant valid concern in regards to negative impacts to property values. If we adjusted policy for those local to those new plants to see economic benefit in the form of free electricity, we resolve the local concern in regards to value and now have areas that are asking for these types of plants to be put in. The end goal is met with a positive effect for the larger population, while also taking appropriate accommodation for those negatively impacted by the change. Ch
For conservatives “common ground” often means agreeing with Democrats and their radical agenda. To me, common ground means shared positive outcomes. A good example might be Line 5 where our government is blocking a private sector proposal that creates jobs, secures energy sources AND improves protection of the Great Lakes. Common ground would be to get the government to stop blocking this improvement.
By its truest definition, interests shared by each of two or more parties. First and foremost through respectful and productive discussion I would seek to find those issues we are in agreement on and focus on how we can make positive efforts to work together on solving those issues for our citizens. While also working to understand our differences in opposing views and work to educate and be educated so that we fully understand one another and work to resolve those differences.
Common Ground to me is that place where we can come together on issues based upon the boundaries of our foundational documents (The Bible, Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, and Michigan Constitution). I do not think that Common Ground is found in neutrality. Common Ground is best achieved by asking the question, “What is true, right, and pure in relation to particular situations?” Common Ground must be distinguished from compromise.
Are you concerned about the lack of honesty and integrity in (some of) today's elected officials? How will you combat this problem and demonstrate and maintain these personal qualities, if elected?
Speaking with thousands of voters on their front porch I have a feel for what voters care about. They are most concerned with the lack of integrity with top officials in the government and with the unelected bureaucrats who run too much of Lansing.
When elected, my mode of operating will be to be truthful, even when being truthful means delivering tough news. I believe voters expect the truth and know how to move forward when they have the truth.
Of course, at a time when confidence in our government and its processes is at an all time low it must be made a priority to regain the trust and respect of our citizens. We simply must work to instill confidence in the people we represent and work for. I believe that can be accomplished by being open, transparent, being accountable and by owning our mistakes when we make them.
Yes, I am very concerned! Lies and half-truths have too often become the lingua franca in politics. I will first and foremost combat this in myself by praying that I will be filled with the fruit of the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control—Galatians 5:22-23) and clothed in the spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-20) on a daily basis. I will stand for honesty and integrity and will call out dishonesty and division (the opposite of integrity). Again, I will pray for those who are caught up in and speaking half-truths and lies.
I am extremely concerned about this problem. The first step to combat the problem will be to hold all elected officials accountable to their actions regardless of party or affiliation. The second step will be to ensure transparency in actions and votes. If a policy being advocated represents a conflict of interest via either personal interests or donor interests that must be declared and described. Personally I commit to providing a comprehensive discussion posted on every final vote on policy in a public forum with a full description of reasoning. This also ensures consistency of reasoning and a two way street for communication.
The next step is to call out hypocrisy and that lack of honesty as it presents itself as it erodes faith in our leaders and institutions. For example it makes very little sense to talk about a love for the constitution and then in the next breath talk about eroding the separation of church and state. We also have large portions of elected officials that are perpetuating lies regarding the 2020 election for political gain. Each time lies or debunked myths are repeated by those same leaders it erodes the public confidence in both the institutions of our democracy but our faith in those leaders themselves. Other examples of hypocrisy are plentiful, decrying public welfare policies and accepting corporate welfare. The abuse of PPP loans by those same people condemning Covid measures, or to use a more recent example a family member making millions dollars of trades on semiconductors just before a vote comes up regarding the government investing in the industry. All of these actions seriously erode the public trust and we need to fix that.
You will be part of a large group of house members and will be compelled to follow the party line by leadership. How do you propose to make your voice heard and how will you respond if you disagree with party leadership?
I would be willing to bet this very situation has haunted every single legislator that has a strong conviction, while not agreeing with leadership, but not wanting to see their district punished for not "falling in line". My answer is, I work for the district, I belong to the party. I will do my best to serve the district as they are my employer. I will do my best to be loyal to the conservative movement as we share common beliefs and goals.
First of all, see the answer to the above question. Secondly, I will speak up for truth and justice (John 8:32 & Amos 5:24 ). Long story short, I will strive to base what I think and say upon the Word of God. I draw the line where the He draws the line, if fellow legislators have problems with this, they will have to take it up with Him.
My accountability is to voters and people within the district, not party leadership. Party leadership often represents the views of a very small number of individuals within the district and state and it has become very clear to me over the past few months that they do an incredibly poor job of representing the needs or the will of the people. In fact I would encourage far wider participation from residents, because it seems like the parties serve very narrow bands of interest locally. The fact that Republican leadership has advocated for an abortion ban and has no means in place to handle the additional healthcare, education and poverty assistance needed to provide a truly pro-life response to the change is horrifying. By the same token the Democratic Party advocating for massive police reform in areas like ours where we have a positive relationship with law enforcement ignores the reality we work within.
To make my voice heard I will ensure that I am a voice for compromise and a commitment to implement policy that makes lives better, regardless of party. I fully expect to disagree with party leadership because at this point I consider them part of the problems outlined in the questions in regards to divisive political environment and honesty and integrity.
By default elected House members become a part of their party caucus. When elected, I will immediately work to elect more effective leadership in my caucus. As an example, just this year we saw that when a member expresses views that the Speaker disagrees with, that member will be removed from the caucus. If that should happen to me I would take my voice directly to the voters in my district. Using tools like Near North Now, I would communicate issues that may not align with the “leadership”.
What will you do to help level the playing field and represent your constituents, while knowing that our friends on the East side of the state have much more influence and power by the sheer number of their reps?
Number one, I will constantly strive to know my constituents and their concerns well. Number two, it is always important to remember that what seems like a giant to us may only take one little stone to fell.
One of the biggest responsibilities I will carry is to provide a stronger understanding of the reality of rural life to our friends on the East side of the state. It’s easy to brush away concerns about rising gas prices when you drive at most 20-30 miles to get somewhere, while for us in some cases 20-30 miles is the minimum amount of distance for some services and goods. School of choice is less of an option when the nearest school is an additional 20 mile drive each way and you still have to get to work every day.
The problem is that instead of having discussions about how policies impact our reality, we have reached the point where everything is just rejected out of hand with a soundbite. By having those conversations and providing that education we can start identifying and modifying policies to help those that they are supposed to help without putting those living in rural areas in a worse place than they would have been prior to the change. Things aren’t getting better and we need to reverse that trend.
In politics a truism is that the number of votes “on your side” is how one wins or loses. Can’t change that. So every member has the same challenge. That is to consider/propose new laws, or importantly to remove outdated laws, that have appeal to members from across the state. It is that simple. Find areas of interest and be compelling in your arguments.
Currently the House of Representatives is made up of 56 Republicans, 53 Democrats and 1 independent. While we have the majority, it is a narrow one. I am working with candidates in neighboring districts to form alliances now, so that when in office we can have a concerted effort to be sure that rural Michigan is a powerful voice in Lansing
August 2nd is near and the primary is most likely going to decide who represents you, please be informed and get out to vote, it's important.
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