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.
To The Editor:
We ate at the little tented area of the pub in Whitehall the other night. John and I were talking about wages for wait staff so I asked our waitress what her hourly wage was. $3.75. I knew the minimum wage for workers who get tips was low, but I didn’t know it was that low. So on a slow day, a waitress or waiter could be making less than standard minimum wage (which is still too low).
She said she was working 3 jobs to have enough for college. We left a huge tip but kept talking about this after we left. It is crazy on many fronts. First you have a worker who may or may not make more than $3.75 an hour based on business and the whim of the tipping customer and a system of eating out in which the customer is basically responsible for paying wages for the restaurant owner’s employees. If any other business owner did that, we’d think it was nuts.
I don’t pay slave wages and then expect our farm stand customers to make up for that in tips to my pickers or to our helpers at the stand. Raise the dang menu prices appropriately and pay at least $15 an hour to your wait staff. Any tips they’d get for exceptional service above and beyond the norm, would be acceptable but not necessarily the standard.
I know some wait staff make far beyond a living wage if they’re at a busy, upscale place, but for those stuck in podunk towns with stingy customers, it’s just not right.
To the Editor:
Thank you for writing the informative and thorough account of the public forum held 7-12-22 in White Cloud to address the serious issue of addictions in Newaygo County.
I was also there and heard for myself, things that I had not really thought about too deeply. I found the information that was shared by the excellent speakers to be very informative, eye opening and heart breaking. Indeed, there is a serious problem with addiction in our county that affects many adults and children; indeed all of us as members of NC. And I learned that there are many dedicated people, professionals and ordinary members of our communities who are concerned and working to remedy the problem.
I was impressed with how smoothly the forum was organized and how much I learned from the various speakers, whose dedication and commitment for the well being of the people of Newaygo County, was very obvious. There were times, during the testimonies of two of the speakers who shared personal stories of living with loved ones affected by addiction, that if a pin dropped, it could be heard! I found my heart deeply moved and my mind expanded. When looking over my notes from the evening, I noticed I had written a Q to myself; 'Who is my neighbor?" Thinking of that as I drove home, I thought of a quote I had just read that morning, by Isabel Allende; "We are all born happy. Life gets us dirty along the way, but we can clean it up." Indeed! That was proved at this meeting.
Kudos to NCMH Director, Carol Mills, & organizers of the forum, to all the speakers and to the audience members who were respectful and submitted great questions. I would recommend and encourage that this important informational forum be repeated in our county in the future; perhaps in larger venues such as the Grant Fine Arts Center, The Dogwood Center in Fremont or through the FACF's Better Together Series, where there is accessibility to better media systems so all participants can hear and see the information being shared. This information is too critical and important to limit it to just this one time. Again, my deepest appreciation and thanks to all those who participated in this forum.
Gloria Switzer Fremont.
To the Editor:
I recently moved to White Cloud and am very impressed with the friendly folks my husband and I have encountered. I am a Democrat and know I am in a majority Republican county. I believe the divisiveness that we have all endured these last few years must end. We all want healthy and safe communities for our families now and into the future. It seems to me the wealthy individuals and corporations want to keep us in conflict with each other while they laugh all the way to the bank at the expense of the people and the planets' health. We are a lot more alike than many think. Let's come together to work on equality, safety and good health and address the real problems facing us.
To The Editor:
I know there are strong feelings about mask wearing, but some of us are at special risk. I am a cancer survivor on cancer prevention drugs. I hired a local chimney sweep to clean my chimney. They arrived 20 minutes late. I get it, that happens. I politely asked them to wear a mask when they were in the house adding that I had masks if they did not. The man in charge got very huffy and said he would not wear a mask and left.
He felt that since he got a vaccination he did not need a mask. The truth is one can still get and pass onto others the Covid virus even if you are vaccinated. Vaccination is best for preventing serious disease if you get the virus.
So, please, if you have business that requires you to go into someone's home and they ask you to wear a mask for their protection, please be willing to do so. When I’m at work, I wear a mask from the time I enter the building until I exit. Be considerate of others' needs.
By Ken DeLaat
America’s birthday number 246 is now in the books as Near Northians took advantage of a spate of splendid meteorological magic to engage in some serious reveling across our fair county.
Croton kicked things off on Saturday with their annual parade then followed up in the evening with the party on the pond known as the Freedom Fest. Parades also hit the streets in Fremont and Hesperia and being it’s an election year citizens got a good glimpse at some of the candidates vying for their votes.
And then of course there were the fireworks.
There were ample opportunities to ply your pyrotechnical passion as Croton and Fremont both got rave reviews from those in attendance
N3 World Headquarters and Monarch Maternity Center is located on the shores of Hess Lake and each year the ring of fire serves as the backdrop for a flurry of fireworks ignited for the pleasure of viewers by private parties who seem bent on outdoing each other each year.
And this year was no different. Sunday night proved to once again provide pyrotechnic pleasure to those on land as well as the bevy of boats who took to the lake for their viewing perspective.
A late rainfall knocked out the Hesperia’s Monday fireworks, the culmination of their weekend long Family Fun Fest, but organizers decided to keep the pyro party going by rescheduling their dazzling display for this coming Saturday.
And now with summer hitting full stride our patch of peninsular pleasure will be getting busy as folks from other parts begin arriving to enjoy the surroundings we get to live in year-round.They will be floating down the river, enjoying one of our many lakes, hiking the plethora of pathways and filling our local eateries.
Just what you’d expect from an area that has become a consummate destination site for discriminating travelers.
From the Newaygo County Democratic Party:
The Newaygo County Democratic Party will host their monthly meeting on Monday, July 11. Join them at 6 p.m. for a social half hour, then stay for the meeting at 6:30 p.m. Their new office is at 701 W. Main Street, Fremont. Please enter from the Fremont Street side across from the car wash.
The July 11 meeting will focus on issues that are important to all Newaygo County residents; public outreach and education events; participation in the July 22 Gerber Baby Food Festival Parade; and the upcoming August primary.
On Thursday, July 14 at 6:30 p.m. members of the Newaygo County Democrats will hold its first “Meet & Greet” event at Veterans Park in Fremont. Community members are invited to enjoy a social time together, and then stay for the free concert in the Park at 7 p.m.
There will be open “Meet & Greet” events around the county over the next few months to widen outreach to County residents who are interested in learning more about where the Democratic Party and its candidates stand on important issues. For more information, visit & sign up for Enews at www.NewaygoCoDems.org; follow on Facebook @Newaygo County Democratic Party and @Newaygo County Democrats, or call 231-709-9007.
The Newaygo County Democratic Party welcomes all people and does not discriminate based on gender, gender identification, age, race, ethnicity, spiritual or religious affiliation or non-affiliation
By Kristie Bulger
"The love of a dog is a pure thing. He gives you a trust which is total. You must not betray it." – Michel Houellebecq, French author
Almost every single dog lover wants to take their dog along on all of their adventures. And almost every single dog thinks running to the grocery store is a grand adventure. How can a person ignore the happy dance or whining that happens while they’re getting ready to walk out the door? Dogs don’t care if it’s just an hour in the car, waiting for their owner to come back. All your dog knows is that they got to “Go!” But….here’s the part where I rain on the parade.
Summertime is not the time to take your dog with you in your vehicle. Every summer, dogs left in cars die from heatstroke. Their owners would never intentionally harm their dogs. Most owners think that their dog will be ok if they leave a window partially open or park in the shade or hurry up in the store. But even at just 70* outside, the temperature in your car can rise to over 90* in just 10 minutes. Don’t take the chance with your beloved pet. If it’s too hot for your child to be left in your car, then it’s too hot for your dog. I know it’s not easy to do but sometimes it’s best to leave your dog home….even if it makes both of you sad.
And while I’m raining on parades, I’d like to mention summer holiday parties, especially fireworks. Summer is the best time to have get-togethers with family and friends. But remember what's considered fun by people, may not be considered fun by pets. Fireworks are especially scary and a frightened dog can bolt through a fence or window or gate. Keep your dogs safe by keeping them at home whenever fireworks are a possibility.
So now I’m done preaching and just want to say I hope everyone and their pets have the Best Summer Ever!!!!
Here’s a link to our FB page "Friends of Newaygo County Shelter” where you can see all our available animals:
The adoption fee for dogs is $90.
This fee includes spay/neuter, deworming, heartworm test, rabies & DHLPP shots, flea & tick treatment and license.
The adoption fee for cats is $65
This fee includes spay/neuter, rabies vaccine, feline distemper combo vaccine, FIV/FELV testing, deworming and flea/tick treatment.
Newaygo County Animal Shelter
78 N. Webster
White Cloud, MI 49349
Monday - Friday 11-1
Appointments welcome and available
Writer offers tips on monitoring your child’s online access
By Crystal Brisbin, Parent Support Partner, Newaygo County Mental Health
N3- Newaygo County Mental Health has been providing services to the community for the past half century. As part of their celebration we are running a series of articles highlighting the good work that has been done as well as the good work currently being done. Today Crystal Brisban shares some suggestions for parents in this digital age.
Today, it is easy for us to be occupied by technology. As the years pass it seems that we are presented with increased convenience and exposure to online activities. Smart phones are now mini computers and travel with us on a daily basis. Leaving your phone at home or losing it causes anxiety as we are temporarily unable to access information that may be important to our day. Children are given smart phones at an earlier age and have become accustomed the carrying one as well. Being able to contact your child is much easier than it has been in previous decades. Knowing that our children are safe and have the ability to reach out to us offers a sense of security.
Unfortunately, with each positive of technology a consequence may follow. We want to examine limits and the safety that comes with convenience but we do not always know how to approach. As a parent, I have noticed my children have been more focused with virtual friends and less social in “real life”. Communications skills are present, but I wonder how, or if, they will thrive within the community as they become adults. Online communications are not always as they appear and it becomes easier for predators to manipulate children into giving information that places them in harm’s way.
Monitoring what is being accessed online is not an easy task if caregivers do not have the understanding on how to do so. There are several apps that can be used to limit time and content that your child is exposed to. Many of them charge a fee. I recommend that you research specific apps in order to understand how to work with them and set them up. If your child has a screen lock it is important to know how to get past it. Privacy is a privilege that is earned and more trust can develop as our children age. Young children are not aware of online dangers, even though they may think so. Parents may not be aware either. Researching apps or programs before letting your child use them will give insight regarding possible dangers. It is much easier to deny the use of a program than it is to take it away.
Children learn how to maneuver technology through online research and through their peers. Downloaded VPN’s (Virtual Private Networks) will provide the ability to travel online discreetly and without being tracked. They will also provide a way to get past control settings and blocked content. The following article through You are Safe Online provide more information on VPNs and suggestions on how to approach the situation with your children.
We all want to trust our children and monitoring their activity may make them feel as if you have invaded their privacy. Therefore, monitoring may cause an uncomfortable situation. It is important to speak about monitoring with your child and assure them that it is not an accusation of being untrustworthy or untruthful, but the role of a parent. Keeping our children safe extends beyond travels outside of the home and is not an easy task. Staying one step above what your child learns may help you keep them secure from online dangers. Family Online Safety institute provides a multitude of information that is extremely insightful. You can access their webpage at www.fosi.org.
Faerie garden felled by unknown intruder
By Ken DeLaat
One of the more pleasant aspects of life at N3 World Headquarters and Monarch Ministry is the variety of avian creatures who reside in and around the grounds. There’s a heron who arrives most mornings to strike a regal pose before heading off to nab a little breakfast, the wren who lives in Lil’s peace pole, a few territorial hummingbirds, hard working woodpeckers, a remarkably adept kingfisher and a catbird who always seems a bit confused.
House finches pay the occasional visit, swallows swoop along the lake reducing this year’s bumper crop of mosquitos by the mouthful and eagles soar ominously waiting for their prey with seemingly no preference as to fish or fowl.
And then there are the orioles.
We've enjoyed the company of these pleasant neighbors for many years now and await their annual arrival with anticipation and a supply of grape jelly. Their feeders are on the back deck near where we often dine al fresco and my much favored place to work on stories for the N3 site.
In the past we observed a mother teaching her young triplets the ins and outs of bird baths, a fascinating exercise in parental instruction. Most times we pause any conversation we might be having when one takes their place at the feeder. The colors are striking and their song is delightful. They also clatter at us if we are moving too close to their dinner table or are remiss in the timely refilling of the jelly holders.
For years the bowls of grape goo have gone relatively unmolested save the wasps who seem to get roaring drunk on the stuff, often ending life mired in their over indulgence.
Then two nights ago not only had the jars been obviously manhandled but the faerie garden, Lil’s creative little island of floral fantasy had been beaten into submission with the tops of the flowers missing (and presumably eaten) and a general disheveling of the citizenry who occupy the magic little place.
After a short mourning period Lil expressed hope for the survival of the trampled and bitten down plant life and moved the abused atoll to a new location. The next morning after her daily exercise regimen (I was busy at the time humanizing myself via heavy caffeine consumption) she called me down to the deck.
The shepherd's hook that had held the feeders was not just knocked about…
It was bent. The steel bar looked like a prop in a strong man contest.
Now given the fact that I am not exactly Mark Trail (old age reference to a one time regular in the Sunday Comics page) my knowledge of the abilities possessed by the nocturnal beasts who occupy the vicinity of N3WH&MM is far less than extensive.
At other times of day there are rabbits who wage an ongoing battle with Ms. Lil for garden supremacy, deer who wander in during early dawn hours for a taste of tulips in the spring and the obligatory squirrel gangs who are capable of unbelievable acrobatic achievements in their quest for sunflower seeds.
But then comes nightfall and the prowling about of raccoons, possums, porcupines and other nighttime nibblers.
But are any capable of not only flinging the jelly jars around after presumably licking them clean but bending a steel rod into an L shape?
Or was it something a bit larger?
The oddest thing was the lack of paw prints of any kind. In order to get to the feeder it would require anything of size to lumber through a sea of greenery and floral colors that surround it and encompass much of the yard. Did it perhaps take the steps down around the house, cross over the deck and shinny up the pole until it bent over to gain easier access? Possible I guess but while not knowing the intricacies of animal behavior, I am fairly certain a polite and lengthy stroll down the steps would be less likely than an ‘as the crow flies’ slog through any plant based obstacles when it comes to seeking food.
A while back in these pages I lamented having never seen an owl in the wild. The same goes for bears. While others have had their mini adventures with bears I’ve yet to encounter one not ensconced behind bars. Others have spotted them nearby and I know the county has a caniform clan milling about the countryside.
So it seems time for a trail cam. A chance to spot what it might be nothing more than a careful coon a polite possum or even a wily woodchuck.
But if it’s a bear it presents an opportunity to possibly finally spot one not just in the wild, but right here on my own back porch.
An opportunity that I will be certain to miss.
Because while my enthusiasm for encountering an owl has not wavered…
I can easily live with not being up close and personal with a bear.
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