Finding Common Ground
From Our Friends at Braver Angels:
Red (conservative or Republican-leaning) and Blue (liberal or Democrat-leaning) community members will come together in structured and facilitated discussions that intend to find common ground through listening and learning rather than declaring or debating. It will be held on Friday, September 30 from 9am – 3:30pm at the Newaygo United Church of Christ, 432 Quarterline Street, Newaygo, MI 49337. This event is free, open to Michigan residents, and breakfast snacks, drinks, and lunch will be provided. Donations are encouraged but are not required.
The “Red and Blue Workshop” is the signature workshop created by Braver Angels, a non-profit organization whose mission in part is to depolarize and unite America. This event is made possible by individual donations, and is supported by the Fremont Area Community Foundation.
“I’m concerned about the culture of contempt being fostered in our county, politically,” states Sally Kane, one of the coordinators of the Red and Blue Workshop. “It’s alive and well nationwide too. Contempt breeds more contempt. It disrupts our humanity and our democracy on all levels. We need to heal from this. The best way is through relationships and safe conversations that foster trust, respect and deeper understanding. Our democracy is at risk if we don’t.”
Braver Angels is a national movement with a strong Michigan presence. According to their website every level of leadership within the organization is equally balanced between conservatives and progressives, as much as possible (given these are volunteers). The Braver Angels Pledge states “As individuals, we try to understand the other side’s point of view, even if we don’t agree with it.
In our communities, we engage those we disagree with, looking for common ground and ways to work together.
In politics, we support principles that bring us together rather than divide us.”
Sarah Brabbs is a Michigan Braver Angels Facilitator who co-moderating this workshop. “I’ve seen the power of a group of people who differ drastically in their political views, setting aside time and engaging in this workshop - it’s this willingness at grassroots levels that is key to depolarizing our country. One person at a time. I often hear from workshop attendees that making the decision to attend feels very risky, but it’s not one that anyone ever regrets, and often it has a life-changing impact. New relationships are formed, and hope is rekindled. I’m proud to volunteer how I can with this organization, and especially having gotten to know folks in the Newaygo area this year, I’m excited to be able to travel in to help make this workshop happen.”
The “Red and Blue Workshop” invites and encourages anyone interested in developing a deeper understanding of, and connection with, people whose political beliefs differ from their own to join the event. Space is limited, and the acceptance process will assure an evenly divided group between conservatives and liberals. Attendees can join as a “Participant”, who will be actively involved in discussions with others of the same as well as different political persuasions. “Observers” will watch and listen but not participate in the discussions.
“It is easy to disagree with anger and hatred, and to lump issues and people into negative sound bites,” states Sally Wagoner, event co-coordinator with Sally Kane. “It takes courage and the willingness to listen with an open mind and heart instead of throwing verbal, and sometimes real, weapons. I urge our community members and civic leaders to join us, and become a ‘Braver Angel’ on September 30.”
For those who wish to see how politically divergent community members can come together through the Braver Angels process, a successful Red and Blue Workshop was recently held in Traverse City, Michigan. A special segment will be aired on CBS Sunday Morning, on September 18.
Registration is required for this free event. To register, go to www.BraveAngels.org. Click on “Find an Event” at the top, then click on the calendar to September 30. Click on “Red-Blue Workshop Sessions 1 & 2”; “Click Here to Register” will take you to the Eventbrite registration page.
Lions and Tigers and Scammers and Shoes
By Ken DeLaat
“The very existence of flamethrowers proves that sometime, somewhere, someone said to themselves, 'You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.”-George Carlin
L&T-While it has been beyond disappointing to be a Tiger fan once again this season (currently immersed in an impassioned race with the A’s to achieve the worst record in the American League) there was always football season to look forward to.
Sure it’s the perennial hapless Lions, but there were signs things had turned around under Coach Campbell. I tuned in Sunday filled with positive thoughts that only became enhanced after that splendid opening drive for a TD.
Then came the second quarter when turnovers, penalties and big plays helped Philly slap on 24 points, 14 of them in less than a minute.
The Blue & Silver came back and made a bit of a game of it and look to be a much improved team but 2 things tell me different.
First is the propensity of this team to shoot themselves in the foot time and time again. This seems to be ingrained in the Lion culture. Not the current culture, the ancestral influence that looms over each version of this team over the past too many decades. A curse that has loomed since they traded enigmatic quarterback Bobby Layne in 1958.
The second thing also has to do with a quarterback.
Goff isn’t terrible but I recently watched Josh Allen dismantle a good Ram defense and it was easy to see who was the superior playcaller on the field when they faced the Eagles.
But hey, chances are they won’t finish an eternity out of contention while playing in the absolute worst division in the sport because not a single player on their team knows how to hit and every trade and free agent they pursued flamed out, and, and…
Sorry. Just needed to get that off my chest.
Scammers-While the whole student loan forgiveness thing is steaming along social media with the usual polarized opinions we have all come to know and despise, this is an issue I am certain that most of us can agree on.
A mutual abhorrence for those who prey on others.
With the ink not even dry on the initiative I received not one, but two calls informing me of the upcoming forgiveness of my student loan and the necessity of contacting the callers to ensure I would get what was coming to me.
And I am certain they would make good on that promise to give me what was coming to me.
If what coming to me was a hosing, fleecing and all around flimflamming.
What's more, my student loan history consisted of the 10 bucks I once borrowed from a frat brother for gas to drive home for Christmas. I did indeed pay it back with the interest consisting of ponying up for a pitcher of beer we split at the Bird in Mt Pleasant.
And for those who share my generational grouping? Yes, American Pie was played on the jukebox at least 17 times that afternoon.
Shoes- Suddenly there has been an absolute plethora of orphaned footwear found alongside area roads. TI Editor Wheater sent a shot of a substantially solid Sorel that was apparently not content to lurk on the shoulder. It had been discovered gaining a higher perspective perched on a pole. I advised him to exercise caution since the movement seems to have gotten more daring.
The blue sneaker on I-96 near the 131 interchange, the brown loafer type sitting a bit too innocently on M-72 near Linden and don’t even get me started on sandals. Suddenly they’re everywhere.
While I generally try to remain a tad skeptical of conspiracy theories and consider myself to be adequately rational, this burgeoning burst of suspicious soles seems to beg the question…
What does it mean?
Annual event coming Saturday to Muskegon County Fairgrounds
Sportsmen for Youth – Youth Day, which is always held on the first Saturday after Labor Day, is September 10, 2022 this year. Youth Day is held at Muskegon County Fairgrounds, 2261 Heights Ravenna Road, Fruitport, Michigan. This will be our 28th year. The gates open at 9am and close at 3pm. This is a free family friendly event to introduce our youth to the many activities available to them in the great outdoors, however only youth under 17 years of age can participate in the activities. Persons over 17 are welcome to sit in on all the seminars. Each youth participating will receive a t-shirt and a ticket for lunch (while supplies last) and a raffle ticket.
This year we have received commitments from approximately 60 exhibitors including the following: a rock climbing wall, the Coast Guard Axillary and a vessel from Coast Guard Station, Muskegon, the Critter Barn, Muskegon Conservation Club, Grand Haven Steelheaders, with their fishing simulator, Friends of Ottawa County Parks, Jumpn’ Jupiter Skate Center, Coopersville Sportsman’s Club, Michigan United Conservation Club, a reptile and a birds of prey display and the West Michigan Walleye Club, to name a few. Once again there will be the trout pond, put on by Michigan Anglers Assoc., with 1000 trout to be caught.
The Hawg Trough, a 50 foot long aquarium mounted on a semi-trailer, will be here again this year and will be stocked with native fish for viewing. It is also used as the stage for seminars with Mark Martin and some of his fishing staff. There are also mentored shooting of firearms, however you need to present a Hunter Safety Certificate in order to shoot.
Attendees will also be able to experience various safety exhibits, demonstrations and tours of fire trucks, EMT vehicles and law enforcement displays. There will also be a 9/11 tribute at noon. More information on this Youth Day can be found on our website (www.sportsmenforyouth.com) and Facebook page.
Please plan to spend Sportsmen for Youth – Youth Day with us on September 10, 2022. I’m sure you will have a great time.
In-Depth Study of the White River Begins
NEWAYGO COUNTY, MICHIGAN: The White River Watershed Collaborative (WRWC) recently launched an effort to study the economic impact of the White River in Newaygo, Oceana and Muskegon Counties. The study is intended to develop a baseline to gauge progress in the communities along the White River. The study will be conducted over a 12-month period to evaluate the economic impact of the White River on local communities through river-based recreation and property values. Information gathered will be leveraged to target opportunities to both capitalize on and improve the quality of the White River.
Since 2019, the WRWC has focused on environmental and economic opportunities of the White River and surrounding watershed. WRWC is led by Trout Unlimited’s Jake Lemon and involves stakeholders from over 40 local, state and federal organizations. The WRWC Economic Opportunity subcommittee, led by Newaygo County's Economic Development Director, Julie Burrell, identified the opportunity to conduct an economic impact study of the White River.
Recognizing the potential value of this study, West Michigan Shoreline Development Commission (WMSRDC) stepped up to serve as the fiduciary on behalf of WRWC. WMSRDC was able to successfully apply for and receive funding from the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, the Community Foundation for Oceana County and the Fremont Area Community Foundation. Additional funding partners include Schrems West Michigan Trout Unlimited and Free The White River Group. One hundred percent of funds raised will be dedicated to contracting with Grand Valley State University (GVSU) to conduct the study.
After months of planning, organizing and fundraising, a contract was signed with GVSU in July. The project hit the ground running, with river use intercept surveys beginning immediately. The project will also include business surveys, a river communities survey and an analysis of the White River property values. Simply put, this information will be compiled into models to estimate the economic impact of the river in terms of commerce generated and property values.
Surveys are expected to continue through June 2023 to capture all seasons and varieties of river usage. The project is expected to be completed in July 2023. For additional information please go to the project page on the WMSRDC website http://wmsrdc.org/project/white-river-impact/
Native Plant Hike & Gathering This Week
Story & photo by Sally Wagoner
The first of “seasonal” guided hikes and gatherings will take place on Wednesday, August 31, 6pm – 8pm at Coolbough Natural Areas. This is a free event, with donations accepted. Coolbough is located between Croton and Newaygo off Croton Drive and Barberry Avenue.
Hosted by Carmen Marie Alfaro, the hike invites anyone interested in learning or sharing knowledge about native plants and local ecology. “Coolbough Natural Areas are home to the rare Oak Savanna, a threatened natural community traditionally stewarded by Indigenous Peoples. They are now maintained by The Coolbough Natural Areas Environmental Commission and The Nature Conservancy. This unique ecosystem is packed with incredible flora and fauna,” stated Carmen.
Participants are encouraged to wear long pants, bring water to drink, use non-toxic insect repellent if needed, and be ready to share seeds and stories. Carmen continues,“I spent about 2 hours at Coolbough recently in preparation for the hike, and easily identified over 45 unique floral species as well as a few fungal friends.”
Owner of the new Sunhart Center of Ecology and Design, Carmen’s unique training provides sustainability-focused landscaping design services in the Newaygo County area. With training and experience in native wildflower prairie and wetlands installation, permaculture design, integrated food-forest creation and management, and invasive species removal, the Sunhart Center ensures that all projects have a minimal carbon footprint and practices mindfulness of sound pollution and clutter.
“I’ve always had a passion for listening to and working with the Land. As a Wixárika person, I believe in honoring the spirit of Mother Earth, Sister Water and all of our plant and animal relatives. With the recent listing of the Monarch butterfly on the endangered species list, I realized the time to give back to my community is now. I want to make a world where our children and grandchildren can enjoy clean air, clean waters and abundant nature. A better world is possible,” shared Carmen.
The hike will be slow-paced over prairie and wooded trails, with frequent stops along the way to identify plants and share knowledge. Those who wish to walk for only part of the adventure may go back to their cars at any time.
For more information about the Coolbough Hike & Gathering, contact Carmen Marie Alfaro at email@example.com, (231) 450-4590, or by visiting the Events link on Facebook @Sunhart Center of Ecology & Design.
Newaygo Marching Band “Takes Shape”
Story and photos by Tara Hefferan
Summer break ends in early August for Newaygo Marching Band. Keeping a grueling Monday through Friday, 9 AM – 5 PM training schedule, band kids know that hard work and commitment lead to success. Indeed, the band is among Newaygo High School’s most-winning competitive programs, with fourteen performances at the Michigan Competing Band Association (MCBA) State Championships at Ford Field since 2009, earning the state title twice and taking second place five times.
August practices have focused intensity, as the band of forty-five students learn the details of their 2022 fall show, “Take Shape.” They are led by Band Director Branden Listh. From atop his observation tower, Mr. Listh assembles his musicians in the Newaygo Bus Garage’s parking lot. The lot has been painted to reproduce a football field, with lines and signage marking yards and steps.
Using a microphone and loudspeaker, Mr. Listh calls directions, and the kids find their marks. Mr. Listh begins each instruction set by calling out “Hey Band!” The kids respond “Hey, what?” to signal they are at attention. Then, in an iterative process, with plenty of other calls and responses, Mr. Listh and his support staff lead the kids through their formations, finetuning steps, distancing, speed, musicianship, and the like. Repetition is key, as the same steps are practiced and corrected over and over, until they become embodied muscle memory.
The mood is jolly. The different “sections” of the band—led by student “section leaders”—coordinate outfit themes. Today’s themes include the Wizard of Oz, princesses, and vampires, among others. One goal is to develop a sense of community across the various sections. Another is to develop an identity connected to particular instruments. “Oh, she’s a flute” or “he’s a saxophone” are ways of noting who people are and where they fit. Also, the outfit themes are just fun, giving a festive edge to the hard work and long days.
With the band perfecting its new program, Mr. Listh says, “I am looking forward to our first competition. It is always an enjoyable experience for the students to travel and to experience other bands performing after we give our first performance.” The band will give its first public performance on Thursday August 25th at the Newaygo vs. Kent City football game’s halftime show. Kick-off will be at 7 PM. The first competition will be the Rockford Invitational on September 17.
Community Meeting Aug. 24 to Discuss Future of Consumers Energy’s Hardy Dam
WHY: Input from communities will help Consumers Energy determine the future of their 13 dams in Michigan. Ahead of their dams’ operating licenses expiring, the energy provider is gathering community and individual’s opinions to help determine plans to either continue investing in or remove any of our river hydro facilities.
WHERE & WHEN: The Hardy Dam public meeting is Wednesday, August 24 at Newaygo High School Cafeteria, 360 S. Mill Street, Newaygo, MI. An open house begins at 5:30 p.m. and the public meeting will begin at 6 p.m.
WHAT: Consumers Energy hired Public Sector Consultants (PSC), a Lansing-based
nonpartisan research and consulting firm that specializes in public engagement, to hold public meetings with the goal of collecting unbiased feedback regarding its hydro facilities. PSC and Consumers Energy dam experts will provide information about the dam, explain future state options, discuss impacts if any dams were to be decommissioned, and facilitate community input.
For community meeting details, and more information access: ConsumersEnergy.com/HydroFuture. Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.8 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
NC Emergency Services stepped up at the recent Gus Macker in Newaygo
From organizers and players to spectators and food trucks nearly all who were involved in Newaygo’s first Gus Macker Event deemed it a huge success. Not the least among the folks pitching in to make Newaygo’s Macker #1 a quality event was the crew from Newaygo County Emergency Services.
Once again the team of volunteers were on hand to ensure the safety of the participants as they have whenever a situation calls for them to be at the ready.
Extensive training with an emphasis on preparedness has been the calling card of the ES team and their ability to respond whether it be a large scale event like the Macker or a crisis situation such as flooding or other natural disasters is second to none.
Here are the ES numbers from the recent Macker event:
What is it that inspires people from the community to join the ES team?
We asked a few of the team members.
"I like being part of a team that has received comprehensive training in the skills needed to support coverage and safety at local events, and assist local law enforcement and emergency responders in various disaster response activities and situations. We make a difference by supporting the community and individuals in times of need (large or small) and by promoting emergency preparedness." -Dianne Taylor-Chandler
"Being on the team for the past 12 years has been beyond rewarding. We are not only a team but a second family for each other. I love interacting with the community and sharing awareness in being prepared at home. It is wonderful to be a part of a team that has the same passion and drive that I do when it comes to helping the community when it is in need. Being able to volunteer alongside my husband and even include our daughters into some of the training is just amazing!" - BobbyJo Deater
"Being part of the CERT team is like having a second family. We look out for each other, work well together and get things done. It is a great way to do service out in the community and receive training to help assist law enforcement, etc. when needed. " - Shari Paulsen
“We have a great team! They are like family and I really enjoy working with them. These wonderful individuals give of their time and talents to help with event support, (medical, safety, logistics), flooding, damage assessment, administrative tasks, and so much more. They are our force amplifiers! We could not do everything we do without them. Come join us. - Renee Gavin, Deputy Director, Newaygo County Emergency Services
Newaygo County Emergency Services Director Abby Watkins encourages all members of the community to learn what they can do to help their community before, during, and after a disaster. “An organized and efficient response to a large-scale emergency depends on the active participation of members of the community. When members of the community show up to help with no formal training, it can overwhelm and clog the response efforts,” stated Watkins. “By getting trained, you will have the knowledge and skills to help save lives and protect property.”
Want to join the group making a difference when it comes to helping your community?
Mae a visit to this link.
Here are the folks who were helping out at the Newaygo Gus Macker 2022:
Director Abby Watkins, Incident Commander
Dep Director Renee Gavin, Medical Command
James Farinosi, DO, Medical Tent
Gretchen Farinosi, RN, BS, Medical Tent
Mike Rinehart, Medical Tent
Dianne Taylor Chandler, Medical Tent
James Kilmer, Roving/Courtside Medical
Linda Kilmer, Roving/Courtside Medical
Shari Paulsen, Roving/Courtside Medical
Mark Watkins, Roving/Courtside Medical
Cassie Rickert, Spectrum Health Gerber Rehab, Medical Tent
Renee Gavin: These guys do so much, they take care of our tech, tow, set up, and maintain our heavy equipment. Heavy equipment includes the CERT/MRC trailer, our Command Trailer, ATV’s (the Sheriffs office lets us borrow theirs), digital sign, generators, radios and anything else that needs any fixing, moving, or Macgyvering.
Bobby Jo Deater
RG- She is a member of our Admin Team, helps out in all areas, married to Tim and a great cook!
From the GPS Supe: Understanding the non homestead millage
In Grant, every four years, our community is asked to renew our Operating Millage. This is completely different from the millage that Grant Public Schools asked for in May, this is something all school districts in Michigan ask for from time to time, in Grant it is every 4 years.
The proposal on the ballot August 2nd will allow the school district to continue to levy the statutory rate, not to exceed 18 mills on all property, except primary residence (your home) and other property exempted by law. This is required for our school district to receive its revenue per pupil foundation allowance and renews this millage that was last approved in 2018.
Just for clarification:
-This is a renewal of our operating millage and not a new millage.
-Grant Public Schools can only collect up to 18 mills.
-This operating millage supports our students, families, community, and school system.
Thank you for your continued support of Grant Public Schools and our students and thank you for taking the time to get out and vote.
Grant Public Schools
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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