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Local election races: State Representative, 46th District

October 27, 2010 - David Lillis

Lillis, married with four boys and working as an executive officer for a cruise line, says he's sick of party politics and wants to simply work toward solutions instead of focusing on who's right and who's wrong.

He isn't new to campaigning and has run for state office three times before. Lillis says the basis of his political beliefs is the question, "Who works for whom?"

"The problem is, most politicians don't work for the people, they work for the party or different groups," said the state representative candidate, adding that he's stands out from the crowd because he didn't take any campaign contributions and didn't ask for any endorsements. Those things, he says, often come with strings attached.

"If I'm elected, I work for the 91,000 people in District 46, but I will work with everybody else. The problem is that the people representing the districts have lost touch," said Lillis. In his line of work, being "brilliant at the basics" is a way of life, and that's exactly how government needs to operate.

One of his biggest issues with state government is that lawmakers are passing all sorts of partisan laws, but many aren't practical and don't get citizens involved in the process. The issue of abortion, for example, isn't about political parties or who's right and who's wrong. The issue is that unwanted children are being conceived, according to Lillis, and simply passing laws won't help.

"Right now we're passing laws to appease a few, and it can't be that way," he said.

The Democratic candidate hopes voters will elect representatives who don't strictly adhere to party lines, but who stay neutral and listen to constituents on both sides of an issue before making decisions.

"When you vote, you are hiring someone to represent you. You should be a little bit selfish," Lillis said, adding, "We have to be problem-solvers and not try to overpower the other party."

Lillis's campaign manager, John DeSanto, is what Lillis describes as a "die hard Republican"

"We fight all the time, but we work out a solution," said Lillis, noting that they look at different perspective and facts until they come to conclusion that satisfies them both.

The relationship between political parties should be like the relationship between unioned auto workers and management, he said, noting, "Now is the time to sit down and say, 'We made a mistake, but this doesn't have to happen again.' We need to get down to bare facts and go from there. If we can do that, I see problems being solved."

Lillis's different approach to politics and his strenuous work ethic is why he says voters should elect him.

"I answer to you, I want your involvement, I need your help to help me to make your life better. I want you to have a good life and I want your kids to have a better life than what you have now," he said. "Is that easy? No. Am I willing to sacrifice and do it? Yes, sir."

Lillis is currently stationed in Hawaii for work; he said by the time he won the primary election, he had already made a commitment to work on the ship in Hawaii. But should he win the election, he'd be home the beginning of December.

"Governor Granholm, she wasn't too happy about that, but I said, I gave my word and if my word is no good to them, it's no good to you either; once you give your word, you keep it. You have to do what's right."

Jacobsen, married with three children and vice president of Jacobsen's Flowers, is focused on the foundational roles of government.

He says he's always been interested in history and politics, and has been serving the public since 1984 when he began a 16-year stint as an Oxford Township trustee. Most recently, he served as an Oakland County Commissioner for four years.

If elected, Jacobsen said his first goal is to get the state budget and spending under control.

"The state passed a budget, fully knowing they'll be $1.4 to $1.6 billion in the hole next year. I know there's a tremendous amount of waste there. I just feel it in my bones. And the people who are year-in-year-out employees don't really care to change this. They've got their jobs, they've got their pensions, they've got very good benefits, and those things are all going to have to change. In the private sector, we've all taken drastic reductions," said the Republican candidate.

Jacobsen says he wants to outline exactly what the government should accomplish and then figure out a way to do it with money the state actually has. He hopes to be placed on the Regulatory Reform committee to look at a number of different commissions and bureaus, checking their necessity and effectiveness.

"Do we really need inspections of barber shops and hair salons?" he asked, noting that safety and health issues have to be covered, but what can the state actually afford?

Jacobsen added, "I hate the idea of cutting programming for those who need it, but you can't keep spending money you don't have."

Jacobsen said very little of the state's budget is flexible and most of it is eaten up by things required by statute. He hopes that with a change in state leadership, he and others will be able to make a fundamental change in how the government operates.

The candidate says he's also interested in realistic green energy and technology.

"Is solar power practical for this application and how much money are we pouring into this? Should we be looking at wind power instead?" he asked as an example. "I'm not a huge advocate for alternative energy, but I think it's something we should all look at and see what we can do."

Why vote for Jacobsen?

"I have the depth of experience to hit the ground running in Lansing to make changes that the state needs. Right now, we have financial problems. I run a business and know how to balance a budget. I've got a good handle on environmental concerns. I'm very much a consensus builder, which is what I think we need to do; we have to stop arguing and pushing personal agendas," he said.

Ask him anything and he'll tell you how it is.

"I've always run on what I've accomplished and my background. I'm a straight-shooter," he said.

Reporter, Lake Orion Review
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