04 Aug Two Dems, two Republicans vie for 101st District seat
There’s a two-way race for both Democrats and Republicans hoping for their party’s nod to run for Michigan’s 101st state House of Representatives district.
Democrats Edward Hoogterp and Kathy Wiejaczka are squaring off for the nomination, while Jack O’Malley and Carolyn Cater want the GOP nomination. They hope to fill a vacancy current Rep. Curt VanderWall, R-Ludington, will leave as he seeks a seat in the state Senate.
The 101st District contains Benzie, Leelanau, Manistee and Mason counties.
Hoogterp said he thinks Michigan needs a statewide water monitoring effort for ground and surface water. He noted the recent discovery of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances at the site of a Grawn tire fire from 20 years ago. Regular testing could discover such issues much sooner, and the state must find cleanup funds, even if it means raising taxes.
“Protecting the environment in general and particularly the water is key to everything that goes on in this district,” he said.
Michigan should also mandate inspections for the roughly 1 million septic tanks statewide, Hoogterp said. Each one poses a contamination threat. Benzie County requires inspections at the time of a property’s sale — it’s not enough, but at least it’s a start, he asserted.
Tax cuts have proven to be a failed experiment for Michigan, Hoogterp contended. He pointed to issue after issue — schools and roads, to name two — where lack of funding has caused issues, and the resulting service cuts have hurt rural areas more than those with more people earning more money. He would support a constitutional amendment for a graduated income tax, where taxpayers who earn more would pay more.
State and local governments also must partner with nonprofits to build affordable housing, Hoogterp said. Local governments must adopt zoning rules that foster affordable housing solutions, and businesses could chip in financing to help build them.
Hoogterp proposed similar partnerships to provide child care, the lack of which is keeping mothers out of an already tight labor market. He also would support universal health care, including the single-payer model, although he noted it may not be possible for Michigan to go it alone.
“None of that stuff is really simple, but it really all can be done,” he said.
The biggest issue in Michigan right now is quality, affordable health care for all, Wiejaczka said. She said she has seen firsthand how the lack of medical insurance can affect a person’s health.
“Insurance shouldn’t be based on where you work or where you live or how much money you make,” said Wiejaczka, whose life’s work is nursing.
She also believes the state needs to do a better job of supporting public education by increasing funding for schools.
“The system needs an overhaul,” said Wiejaczka, who spent several years as a school nurse. “I’ve worked in it and I know it’s hard to do more with less.”
Wiejaczka and her husband, Kent, also own a small construction and remodeling company and she said small businesses should be able to provide jobs that pay a living wage. She also is in favor of increasing the minimum wage.
Wiejaczka has never run for office and said she filed to run in January because she just didn’t like what was going on in Lansing.
“I saw the votes coming out of Lansing and felt those votes didn’t represent the people,” she said. “I felt they represented the big corporations and the top 1 percent wealthy donors.”
Wiejaczka is also proud of the fact that she has received more than 700 individual donations and is not in anyone’s pocket.
Today’s political divisiveness has to stop, Wiejaczka said. She prefers to talk about the issues rather than run a dirty campaign aimed at Republicans and quoted Michelle Obama: “When they go low, we go high.”
She feels her message of unity has been well-received.
“Our message resonates with people because I truly care about this district,” she said.
Auto insurance that people can afford is the top issue O’Malley has heard from people during his campaign of knocking on doors.
“In Michigan we’re paying the highest rates in the country,” O’Malley said. “In some parts of the state people are having to choose between auto insurance and paying the bills. We’ve got to figure something out.”
Road repairs is a complicated issue, he said. But every available dollar the district can get from the state funding pot needs to go to counties, cities and villages, which he said are at the end of the line.
O’Malley also names better jobs, better housing, better skilled trades education and better day care, which are all tied together, as top needs in the area.
“That’s what people are telling me is important to them,” he said.
Good infrastructure, schools and child care can bring better jobs, he said.
Mothers with young children can’t enter the workforce because child care in northern Michigan is all but non-existent. That’s because state rules and regulations are “out of control” for child care, he said. Regulations are needed, but they should be “sensible and not overwhelming,” he said.
Area schools are beginning to recognize the need for more skilled trades education, which is a good thing, he said.
“The pendulum is finally swinging back and we’re saying, ‘Not everyone is a four-year college person,'” he said.
O’Malley said he knows his district and has a well-rounded outlook on life, but said he’s running because he wants to help people.
“I want to serve. It’s something that I’ve always tried to do — even in my broadcast career.”
Cater is making her first bid for public office on three points: cutting car insurance in half; lowering or getting rid of the state income tax and getting rid of the senior pension tax; and lowering electric bills with energy choice.
“I am frustrated with Lansing, I am frustrated with politics and I’m frustrated with insurance,” which is double what is charged in other states, Cater said.
Cater said if elected she’ll bring something to Michigan that people haven’t seen in a long time — people who’ve left the state coming back. Michigan is a beautiful state and it should be a prosperous one, she said.
“There’s no reason for it not to be.”
Cater said she’s also pro-life and defends the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and a citizen’s Second Amendment right to fight back against tyranny.
She said she’s angry and frustrated with Michigan politics and the phrase “drain the swamp” resonates with her. What she sees is a fraternity in Lansing and a power grab that crosses all party lines.
“It’s a boys’ club and they’re reckless with money in Michigan,” Cater said. “People in the 101st District care about lowering the cost of living, lowering the cost of doing business, and they care about their families.
Cater said, if elected, she won’t take money from special interests and lobbyists in Lansing.
“I think that changes how you represent people,” she said. “I do what I want and I mean what I say.”
About the candidates
Edward Hoogterp, 69, lives near Beulah with his wife Millie. They have three grown children. He’s an environmental consultant, Benzie County’s elected drain commissioner and had a nearly 30-year career in journalism.
Kathy Wiejaczka, 62, lives in Empire with her husband, Kent. They have three adult children. She has been a registered nurse for 39 years, having worked at area hospitals and retired from the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District as the special education school nurse. She now teaches in the nursing program at Ferris State University. This is her first run for office.
Jack O’Malley, 58, lives in Lake Ann with his wife Robin. They have two adult children and a son who is still at home. He has been a radio morning show host at WTCM FM in Traverse City for 34 years. He has also been involved with the Children’s Advocacy Center, Child & Family Services and Hospice of Michigan.
Carolyn Cater, 39, lives in Ludington. Though not working right now, she is a seafarer and works as a cook on freighters that ply the Great Lakes. She recently was the chairman of the Mason County Republicans, a position she gave up to run for office.
Source: The Record-Eagle
August 2, 2018