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Primary election


Three candidates vie for state 44th District seat



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July 30, 2014 - Running for the Republican nomination in the Michigan 44th District are Liz Fessler Smith, Dennis Garlick, and Russ Tierney.

Liz Fessler Smith said she is best qualified for the District 44 Seat because of her educational background, small business experience, Republican leadership positions she has held, and her ability to work well with others.

Job creation and stability, effective and efficient education and skill trade training- with local control of educational decisions are on her agenda if elected.

She said she would work for road and infrastructure repair without raising gas taxes, improving healthcare, lowering taxes, stream-lining government, protecting the rights of seniors.

She added she would work to elect ethical, moral leaders that people can trust.

"I would also add, that monitoring and keeping in line our budgets, and adequate oversight and constant review of our departments and programs in the state, will help to keep our government run smoothly and efficiently," she said.

She added she has earned respect from community leaders, peers, and residents.

"I know how important it is, for people to trust their elected officials and be proud of them as leaders," she said. "I am that kind of leader."

Fessler-Smith said her character, moral fortitude and how she treats people and truly cares about them- is what counts and is always foremost in every decision she makes for families of Michigan.

She added that voters should elect her because she is a positive, articulate, focused leader, with a fresh perspective.

Dennis Garlick said he has the most collective military, personal, business and educational experience of the candidates.

"I am a Vietnam veteran. After the navy I started work in construction and over the years I worked in manufacturing in engineering, proposal, estimating and as a manager for companies building custom machines for the big 3," he said. I've spent time throughout the US setting up equipment and also in the former Soviet Union. I went back to school as an adult. While working full time and raising a family I got an Associates degree, a Bachelors degree and an Executive MBA from Michigan State University. When in Lansing I can use my collective skills to work for the people in the 44th district."

Garlick said his main goals if elected would be to create more efficiency and less waste of resident tax dollars.

"I'll focus on the budget and how or tax dollars are spent," he said. "If we are more efficient and waste less we can use the savings to fix our roads."

Garlick said he is willing to work hard for taxpayers.

"When in Lansing I'll work for you. Like you, I know what hard work is. I've felt what it is like when a plant closes and everyone is laid-off. A Friday comes and people are let go," he said.

Garlick said he also knows what it's like to work 50 to 60 hours a week and also attend school at night.

Russ Tierney said he has more experience than any other candidate.

"I have 40 years of business experience and 25 years of owning my own machine tool sales and repair business, and 15 years at my father's auto parts and machine shop business," he said.

Tierney is currently serving his third term as a Highland Township Trustee.

"I have continually battled excessive government expenditures including excessive government employee benefits and elected officials giving themselves pay raises." he said.

Tierney said governments need to be transparent and accountable with taxes collected from residents.

"We need to know how much and where the money is being spent. State income tax should be reduced if not eliminated," he said.

He said frivolous lawsuits also need to be eliminated to help reduce costs of business and medical expenses .

Frivolous lawsuits play a big part in the cost of medical services as well as other businesses.

"Loser pays tort reform would stem the tide of frivolous lawsuits that increase costs for businesses and consumers," he said.

Roads and infrastructure are also important to Tierney.

"Roads and bridges in Michigan are in terrible condition." he said. "The state legislature continues to underfund Michigan roads and infrastructure. Cut the fat from Michigan's $52 billion dollar budget and reallocate the money towards roads."

Tierney said he would work to downsize government by cutting government employees by 5 percent and revise government employee benefits to match those of taxpayers.

Staff writer covering Independence Township and Clarkston area.
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