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Local election races: State Senate, 12th District

October 27, 2010 - Cassandra Ulbrich

Casandra Ulbrich, (D) is running for State Senate 12th District because she's tired of watching partisan bickering balloon out of control while not much of anything else is accomplished.

"We have 29 of 38 State Senators term limited this year," said Ulbrich, 35. "We have a great opportunity to change the culture in Lansing, but it's only going to happen if we put people there who are willing to work across the aisle to get things done."

Ulbrich is said she's confident about her ability to bridge the widening gulf in Lansing.

"As a member of the State Board of Education, I've proven I can do that," she said. "We're as partisan as they come - members are nominated by a political party in order run for the state board."

But, Ulbrich, who was elected to the state board in 2006, said all the partisanship goes out the window once members are seated.

The focus, she explained, becomes working together to determine what needs to happen in order to create and maintain a strong education system in the state.

"If you look at how we vote, its usually 8-0," she said. "Because we can talk to each other, we can compromise, we can work out our differences and we accept the fact that you're not always going to win - and that's OK."

Employment, jobs for the people of Michigan, are most important, Ulbrich noted, also listing quality public education and state government reform as high priorities.

"The most important thing we need to look at is job creation and how we diversify the economy," she said. "One of the big issues is changing our spending priorities in the state so we're focusing on things that will create jobs in the future."

Ulbrich, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at Wayne State University, said investing in areas like higher education, entrepreneur training and research and technology development is crucial for job creation.

Before accepting her current position at WSU in 2001, Ulbrich served as a press secretary to former U.S. House Democratic Whip David Bonior.

She also owned a small business and serves on several boards, including Automation Alley's STEM education committee, Detroit Healthy Neighborhoods, and the Walter P. Reuther Library Advisory Board. In addition, Ulbrich serves on the National Association of State Boards of

Ulbrich holds an Associates Degree from St. Clair County Community College, a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), and a Masters Degree in Communication from Wayne State University. She is currently completing a Ph.D. in Communication, also from WSU.

Casandra and her husband David Williams live in Rochester Hills.

Jim Marleau

Jim Marleau (R) served two terms as Orion Township treasurer before he was elected to serve three terms in the State House of Representatives.

He's threw his hat into the ring in the race State Senate 12th District, Marleau said, because Michigan needs jobs - and in order to increase the job market, the state must not only attract new companies but also entice those who are already here to stay.

"Fifty percent of all jobs lost in the U.S. over the last 10 years were lost in Michigan," said Marleau, 63, an Orion Township resident. "That's not acceptable."

Marleau believes the current business tax has caused significant damage to the state's overall economy, and said fixing that tax is crucial to getting Michigan turned around.

"We've been pretty good about trying to bring new business here," he said. "But Lansing has not directly addressed how to keep the jobs here. We have to make the business tax fair. Business people don't want to avoid paying taxes, they just want to pay fair taxes."

With a "good business tax," Marleau continued, the state won't have offer freebees to attract entrepreneurs.

"If you have a good business tax you don't have to give things away," he said. "I'm excited to work on a new business tax that's going to be fair and equitable instead of a system that picks winners and losers within the tax code."

Marleau also feels strongly about roads and schools -challenges, he notes, intertwined with the jobs issue.

"We have to fix our roads. They're deteriorating faster than the money's coming in to fix them. And because the cost of doing business tends to be higher in Oakland County than in many other areas of the state, the money that does come back doesn't go very far."

Oakland, he said, is one of four "donor counties" that support roads in the rest of the state while its own crumble and crack.

"If we want to bring in jobs, we can't have roads deteriorating," he said, noting Oakland County roads "literally need all the help they can get."

Maintaining top-notch schools in the 12th District so those transplanted will also want to send their children to school here is also imperative.

"Education of our young people is very, very, very important," he said. "We have to maintain high standards we have."

Finally, why does Marleau feel he's the best choice for the State Senate 12th District seat?

"It's all to do with experience," he said. "I have a lot of experience over my lifetime. I'm currently the only elected official that's been on a planning commission, and I served as the township treasurer and attended numerous seminars for continued learning. It's all about where I am in my life, and where I've been."

A Certified Municipal Finance Administrator (CMFA), C.M.U., Marleau earned an Associates in Business Administration (ABA), from the University of Toledo, worked in a career as a Mid-west Manufacturing Representative and also owned a small business, from which he retired.

Marleau and his wife Thea live in Orion Township. The couple has two children.

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