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Tea time for candidates

Kevin Chase, at right, moderates a debate between Michigan Senate candidates, from left, Copper Rizzo, Jim Marleau, Kim Russell, John Garfield, and Gene Taliercio. Photo by Phil Custodio (click for larger version)
July 28, 2010 - Candidates brought some tough talk to the table at a Tea Party-hosted debate.

"We need someone who will think outside the box, who will fight for you," said Gene Taliercio, candidate for 12th District state senate, at the July 20 debate. "That's going to be me."

Taliercio and eight other candidates for state office expressed views similar to the Tea Party's, focusing on fiscal conservatism, government reform, and job growth, with just a bit of variation, said Kevin Chase, president of Independent Tea Party Patriots, which hosted the event.

"It went very well. The membership is excited," Chase said. "Our objective was to educate and inform voters, and they did that."

Tea Party members and residents filled the banquet hall at Fountains in Independence Township.

"It was really enjoyable to hear all the opinions," said audience member John Holeton. "They're all good candidates. It will be hard to choose."

This is just the beginning, said Carole Chase, who is married to Kevin.

"The beauty of the Tea Party is whatever they say, we'll hold them accountable we have it all on video," she said. "That's something that has been missing in politics so far. We'll track it and make sure they follow through."

The candidates supported Tea Party government reforms, including eliminate Michigan Business Tax, cut pensions and benefits for public employees, privatize prisons, consolidate school districts, align state budget year with school districts, make Michigan a Right to Work state, less power to unions,and smaller state government.

"The state house is on fire, and we don't have time for someone who has to look for where the hose is," said Michael Bouchard, Republican candidate for governor. "I know where the hose is."

Bouchard promised to use the 10th Amendment to fight encroachments by the federal government, including window and toilet regulations, light bulbs, seatbelt law, smoking ban in restaurants, and health care.

"How far will government go to tell you what you can and cannot do to protect you from you," Bouchard asked. "These are the kinds of things that make me say enough. It's time to call out the big stick, the 10th amendment, and hit them over the head with it."

Joining Bouchard were Ruth Johnson, Oakland County clerk and Michigan Secretary of State candidate; and candidates for 44th District, Michigan House of Representatives, Rick Gutowski and incubent Eileen Kowall.

Gutowski touted his status as an political outsider.

"It's time to return government to citizen representatives rather than career politicians," he said. "A part time legislature would create urgency for the budget process."

Eileen Kowall said her record as a Oakland County commissioners and state representative makes her more qualified.

"In the state house, I was one of only 43 Republicans," she said. "We made our voices heard I'm proud of our achievements."

Ruth Johnson, running for Michigan secretary of state, said she would increase government transparency, support a three-year budget, privatize services, and strengthen voter-residency enforcement.

"I would use INS and homeland security files to clean voter files out, so no one can vote unless they are a citizen," Johnson said.

Chase moderated a debate for Republican candidates for 12th District state senate seat John Garfield, Jim Marleau, Copper Rizzo, Kim Russell, and Gene Taliercio, addressing several topics:

Business tax reform

"No favoritism we need a more fair business tax," Morleau said. "The fastest way to fix this is to gut the Michigan Business Tax."

"Immediately cut taxes 50 percent for business," Garfield said. "Picking winners and losers doesn't work. Give it to the private sector, let them drive jobs, that's where it belongs."

"Businessmen understand, if you don't have the money, you don't spend it," Taliercio said.

"The Small Business Tax was atrocious the Michigan Business Tax is far worse," Rizzo said. "We need predictability in tax structure."

Prison reform

"Prisoners getting cable it's crazy," Russell said. "Why not say, you can't have it. You can't have that luxury. We have to live within our means."

"Anything that needs to be privatized, should be privatized," Taliercio said.

Government perks

"A three percent pay raise for state workers how many of you got a three percent raise," Rizzo asked. "I'll take Oakland County's fiscal responsibility and take it to Lansing."

"The benefits are ridiculous, they're crazy," Russell said. "We need to put people in office from business. We need to run Michigan government as a business."


"Take immediate steps to break the stranglehold of SEIU, MEU, unions," Rizzo said. "The status quo has to be defeated. We need people who will step up who have backbone to make the difficult decisions."


"We have 28 superintendents in Oakland County. It's ridiculous," Taliercio said. "We lay off teachers but not superintendents I'd like to see one per county."

"What irks me are bonds for school buses and computers," Morleau said. "They're collected for 20 years. Computers go to the landfill in 3-4 years. Buses last nine years with our dirt roads."

"They say we need to redirect money to poor districts," Garfield said. "They're not poor. They're poorly managed. We shouldn't reward failure."

The problem is the Michigan Education Association is too strong, he said.

"I listen to the people," he said.

"Get unions out of the people's back pocket," Taliercio said. "More charters I love competition.

Health care

"We have the 10th Amendment," Rizzo said. "Over the next five years, this will be the largest battle in country's history."

"Reform, reform, repeal, repeal," Russell said. "We have to repeal this. It will take all of us. We must do it together."

"We need to stop it, assert our 10th Amendment rights, fight for states rights again," Taliercio said. "We need strong leaders up there who will stand up against them. We better stand up and start fighting for it."

Illegal immigration

"Michigan is also a border state," Rizzo said. "We'll fight this battle here sooner or later."

"The Arizona bill (enforcing immigration laws) is a great example," Morleau said.

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Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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