July 30, 2014 - Independence Township voters will make several decision when they head to the polls Aug. 5. Voters will choose one of eight candidates to serve as a Representative in State Legislature District 43, a two-year term to represent Independence Township, the City of the Village of Clarkston, the city of Lake Angelus and parts of Waterford.
During the August election, voters will select one candidate each to represent the Republican and Democratic parties in the Nov. 4 general election.
Vying for the Republican nomination are Jose Aliaga, Paul Greenawalt, Nate Knapper, Andrea Schroeder, and Jim Tedder.
Jose Aliaga is an Independence Township trustee.
"I worked to move the media-equipment for Public Access TV to Clarkston High for the students to use, saving us $55,000. I motioned to lower our cable taxes. I voted 'yes' to bring 120 manufacturing jobs to Clarkston (Marelli)," Aliaga said. "Many candidates tell us what they're going to do, but I explain how, with real-life practicality."
All the politicians are promising to Fix the Roads, but he is proposing two solutions, a bill for a Dedicated Road Fund, which the government won't be allowed to remove monies from for other projects, and the sale of guaranteed Michigan Road Bonds will also provide extra revenue.
"I'm a trusted Conservative, and I will not support new or higher taxes," he said. "My accomplishments and dynamic agenda establish me as the candidate most qualified to properly represent the 43rd District," he said.
His main goals are economic growth and creating jobs.
"I will support policies that maintain a healthy business climate, with lower taxes and fewer business-crippling regulations, motivating more corporations to move here, while also making it easier for Michigan entrepreneurial start-ups. This will stimulate our economy, reduce unemployment, and increase revenue," he said.
He would also sponsor a bill approving the new privately funded $400 Million McLaren Hospital in Clarkston, which would bring 4000 new jobs, much revenue, and huge sales for local businesses. Also, his goal is to protect life and defend the Second Amendment.
"I am a University of Michigan graduate, a teacher, and I was even invited to the White House by George Bush," he said.
His attendance at board meetings was almost perfect, but for the few days he missed, he donated his salary to the senior center, he said.
"I didn't just pay an election-fee: I was the only Republican candidate in Oakland County to gather signatures from the constituency," he said.
Endorsements include Dr. James O'Neill, Joan McCrary, George M. Romney, Coach Kurt Richardson, Jack Hoogendyk, Michigan Madison Project, Michigan Township Association, and Michigan Right to Life.
"These esteemed citizens and organizations have put their trust in the Jose Aliaga Candidacy; I will honor all of them, and everyone in Michigan, by following through with these and other proposals, committed to a sensible, legitimate, and prosperous Conservative agenda," he said.
Paul Greenawalt said if he is elected, he will focus on improving the economy by encouraging funding to be used to build Michigan infrastructure and create jobs. Greenawlt said he will also focus in gardening related issues and work to label foods and ban harmful additives from being added to food.
"Voters should vote for me for many reasons," he said. "Some of these are renewable energy policies and use the 1.3 billion that we spend on coal to build infrastructure here to create Michigan jobs and build our economy. Label GMO foods and ban harmful chemicals and additives from our state's food supply. Vegetable garden tax credit and my plan to shave millions off our state's budget and lower taxes."
He attended Lousiana Baptist University, is a member of Pontiac Waterford Elks 810, and is married for over 10 years to Bonita from South Africa. Greenawalt has three children.
Nate Knapper said effective service at the capitol requires a working knowledge of Lansing's legislative players and process.
"As an Assistant Attorney General, I routinely work with AG executives, gubernatorial staffers, and legislative leaders to shape public policy at the highest levels of state government. I have a proven record of effective service in Lansing. No other candidate in the race can claim such a record," he said.
His main goals if elected include fixing roads, facilitating job creation and focusing on school safety.
"Road repair is a unanimous public concern that must be addressed as soon as possible. Job creation remains an urgent priority that can be facilitated by lowering taxes and eliminating unnecessary regulations. And school safety is critical to ensuring the success of our students," he said. "Ultimately, elections are about the future. When citizens vote, they confer the responsibilities of leadership upon a candidate and trust in his ability to help usher in a brighter future for the district."
The "New Wave in Republican Leadership" is so important because it provides a concrete framework for meeting the challenges of tomorrow, he added.
"The New Wave represents a brand of public engagement that combines thorough preparation with strong conservative principles and a practical disposition. These elements empower leaders to bear up under the weight of responsibility conferred upon them," he said. "I want citizens to know that I feel the weight of responsibility that comes with asking them for their vote.
"It's a responsibility I take seriously. I also want them to know that my adoption of a prepared, principled, practical brand of engagement has equipped me to manage and surpass the expectations projected on today's political leaders. This form of engagement is the wave of the future. It's a wave our district will want to ride."
Andrea Schroeder said she is pro-jobs, pro-life, pro-family values, and pro-Second Amendment. A Republican who believes "We the People" have to be in charge of our government.
"As an Independence Township trustee, I have worked hard to make government more accountable and to cut government spending," Schroeder said. "I am developing a plan that will bring new ideas and insight to Lansing. The work with our board to make sure information about our government operations is open, transparent, and accessible. Our board packets, tax information, budget, and meeting videos are available online and on-demand."
She has demonstrated her commitment to the community through my leadership as the creator of the No Spice/K2 pledge, as an active member of the Clarkston Optimists, as a preschool teacher in her church, and also had a successful career as a sales executive and full-time small business owner, along with prior experience as a teacher.
"I'll use my skills and experience to help make our area and state a better more prosperous place to live," she said. "My primary goal is to go to Lansing to help Governor Snyder and the legislature create more jobs and build our economy. The more people looking for creative answers to tough questions, the more likely we are to solve the serious problems facing our state."
Second, find a long-term solution to the roads problem that is plaguing our area and the state. Finally, cut spending, not raise taxes, she said.
Those are reasons why she has been endorsed by our current state Rep. Gail Haines, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, and County Commissioner Tom Middleton.
"I've worked very hard to earn the trust of my friends and neighbors and am proud that my public service gives them confidence in having me represent our district in the Michigan House of Representatives next year.
"I will not disappoint the voters if I am elected.I believe it's very important that we be represented by a leader with the skills and experience to bring our voice to Lansing," she said.
Jim Tedder is a 27 year small business owner, a local school administrator and former teacher.
" I am the candidate that intimately understands the opportunities and challenges of the 43rd District. I am committed to supporting economic growth, job creation, and better days for Michigan. I have personal relationships in the district extending more than 40 years and the professional background to make ethical and sound decisions at the state level," Tedder said. "I also have over 24 years of political experience as a grassroots activist, serving leadership roles in many organizations and, over the last four years, as an elected Independence Township Precinct Delegate."
He has a business and labor policy background having previously worked for Associated Builders and Contractors and the National Association of Home Builders in Washington, DC.
"I come from a working-class upbringing, founded in hard work and integrity; I am the candidate who understands the economic challenges facing working class people and business owners. I value personal responsibility, transparency, and humility. If elected, I will take these values and my blue collar work ethic to Lansing to support the people of this district and state. Improve the Economy: I will support an economic climate that encourages growth and prosperity for all, not just those who are politically connected or in a politically favored industry. My efforts will lead to job creation, elimination of burdensome regulations, and lower taxes for businesses and the hard working people of this district," he said.
Goals include fixing roads.
"Lack of investment and diverting of gas tax revenue over the years have created hazardous road conditions. I will ensure that revenue generated for roads is properly allocated to road-specific projects. I will also seek to prioritize state spending toward road and infrastructure repair and will eliminate wasteful spending to generate additional road resources," he said.
To improve education, he wants more educational options for students, including expansion of vocational and career-focused tracks.
" As an educator for over a decade, I know that quality education leads to success. I support local control, keeping important educational decisions in the hands of parents, community members, and local schools who best understand the needs of our kids, he said.
Running for the Democratic nomination are Neil Billington, Robin McGregor, and Dennis Ritter.
Neil Billington said Michigan Families need to know they can depend on their candidate to stand-up and fight for what is right for them, instead of special interest groups with lots of money trying to buy votes.
"As your new state representative, I will tackle the job of putting Michigan families first," Billington said. "Having lived in Oakland County my entire life, I know the direction to take to put the backbone back into Michigan so that all families can continue to live, grow, work and retire with their family in Michigan. Anyone who has ever worked with me, either at GM or other businesses that I have been involved in, will tell you, my word speaks volumes when it comes to getting things done. My reputation also proves, I am a man of my word and will hammer out any problem that comes my way. My first priority is to the people I serve."
Priorities are Michigan families, reform taxes, the high cost of living and shrinking benefits.
"The people of Michigan deserve better. Adverse conditions affect Michigan families every day, forcing them to make sacrifices for their family's basic needs and necessities," he said.
Michigan Families need the Earned Income Tax Credit and amend the Senior Pension Tax, he said.
"I support raising the minimum wage and capping a price increase on products, services and goods until a balance is reached," he said. "Give tax incentives to Michigan-based companies that encourage job growth, work to improve our communities, inspire school graduates and who are environmental friendly."
A quality education is the greatest gift we can give kids in preparation for the life they will lead, he said.
"Lets teach kids to think on their feet, while preparing them to compete and succeed in life. Let's conserve energy by using brain power. Bring back paper and pencil instead of turning on the computer," he said.
He would also like to change the 1976 law enacted to prevent split-ticket voting in the primary.
"Too many politicians 'shirt-tail' into office instead of the right person for the job," he said. "I will be your voice in Lansing by holding a town hall meeting every month and hearing which direction you want me to take. and I will return your phone call. I will donate 50% of my State Representative earned income back into the community."
Robin McGregor said she is a leader who inspires hope.
"I believe this community inspires hope by embarking on issues that matter. I will reinforce the importance of confronting tough issues rather than shying away or insulating our community. I always think about the well-being of those in our community. It is important to communicate transparently, honestly, and in a timely manner. I will do this," McGregor said.
"Further, I see our challenges as opportunities. There are people who make things happen, people who watch what's happening, and people who haven't the slightest idea of what's happening. I make things happen."
Her goals include improving education.
"Education is the base of this country. Every child should have the opportunity to have the best education possible. In order to improve education we need to adequately fund education, repeal EAA, and focus on inspiring, empowering, and enhancing learning for students rather than teaching to tests," she said.
She would also improve equality:
"Everyone being treated equally should not be an issue in 2014, but it is. People should be able to live off of their wages and women and men should be treated equally at work and with healthcare rights," she said.
Improve infrastructure, including roads, also needs to be addressed.
"People look at just the roads, but we have crumbling bridges, roads, gas mains, electric services, and more. We should look at these problems as opportunities to create new jobs," she said. "I believe that the most important qualifications that I would bring to this position are my experiences as a union president, school board member, parent, small business owner, and community activist."
Examples of her work include fighting against Right-to-Work "for less," getting the Waterford landfill, which was polluting lakes, closed and capped, working on educational reform, and testifying about infrastructure in front of Congress.
Dennis Ritter said he is the best candidate because he is the most experienced public servant who knows firsthand how the actions of Lansing legislators affect individuals and communities on the local level.
"I listen to people, understand what their issues and needs are, and respond by bringing people together to resolve matters," Ritter said.
Priorities include fixing the roads.
"Garner support to allocate the entire $1 billion that consumers pay in state sales tax on fuel for repairing and improving our roads and infrastructure as was its intention. Also necessary is the reallocation of a portion of the General Fund to insure we have the money we need to build and maintain a first class road system," he said.
Also, ensure schools have the resources they need to provide children the world-class education they deserve and return the funds taken out of the School Aid Fund over the last three years.
"Defend middle class families by restoring the $1,200 Homestead Property Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, reinstate the $600 per-child tax deduction and help seniors by repealing the 4 percent tax on their pensions," he said. "Make sure our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters receive equal pay for equal work and an all inclusive quality health care. Support small businesses and entrepreneurs in helping them grow, thrive and in turn create jobs. Sustain efforts and funding to protect and preserve our natural resources and environment. Minimize partisan politics and help restore the focus of government to serve the people."
As the former City Manager of the City of the Village of Clarkston, he knows all too well how legislation and the lack of action impact the local level, he said.
"The revenue lost due to the falling property values brought about the reduction of services and the dismantling of our police department. Many improvement projects were put on hold or eliminated all together. Planning for community improvements, historic preservation and park restoration were eliminated from the budget. Only basic services were retained, a low blow for our community. In spite of our crisis, Lansing did nothing to help us! Communities throughout the 43rd District are faced with similar problems. As your State Representative I will make sure Lansing clearly understands our local needs and works to make sure your needs are met," said Ritter, who was endorsed by The Detroit News and "The Detroit Free Press.
November's willer will replace Rep. Gail Haines, who has served the maximum term limit. Haines said she will continue her work in state government.
"It has been an honor to serve the residents of the 43rd District as State Representative. I have been blessed with the opportunity to represent some of the finest people and communities in the State of Michigan and I look forward to continuing my public service," said Haines.
Staff writer covering Independence Township and Clarkston area.