She said she has spoken to 101st District residents who have cited prescription drug costs as a reason for bankruptcy.
“I totally support (curtailing) the cost of prescription drugs,” she said, adding that she would push to make progress in this area in the state House.
On the topic of education, Hoogterp and Wiejaczka agreed about the importance of increasing funding to public schools and improving access to education for district residents.
“The reigning problem in education in Michigan is underfunding,” Hoogterp said. “We need more funding so we can have smaller class sizes, more counselors, more pre-school and some kind of money for school safety so parents can be confident their kids are safe.”
Hoogterp said he believes the solution lies in giving control to local school districts.
“The legislature needs to stop micromanaging schools,” he added. “We have to trust the local school districts to do what’s needed and make it work.”
Wiejaczka agreed, and said there is a disparity in dollars-per-student public school funding between different regions of the state that puts the 101st District at a disadvantage.
“The staff has to do a lot more with a lot less money, and that affects all of us — that affects society,” she said. “I believe in funding education so that it can improve, and we need to do that in a fair and equitable way around the state.”
The candidates agreed on several other issues, including the legalization of recreational marijuana, both saying they supported it; the state legislature intervening on short-term rental issues, which they both opposed; and the citizen-led Voters Not Politicians redistricting measure to stop gerrymandering in the state of Michigan, which they supported.
When asked whether they supported repairing, replacing or removing the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline, Hoogterp said, “Repair, butcarefully.” Wiejaczka said she supported removing Line 5.
In closing, Hoogterp told a story of a summer picking cherries in Pentwater, where he visited the Pere Marquette River, an experience that fostered his passion for the state’s environment.
“It changed my life,” he said. “Now I look in this district… and I want to make sure that every child and every grandchild has that beautiful environment and someone to love them, take care of them when they’re in need, and take them out to enjoy it.”
Wiejaczka re-iterated her plans to apply the lessons of her career to the state House, if elected.
“Problem solving and critical thinking is what I’ve done for 39 years,” she said. “Our campaign is all about love, service and hope.
“It isn’t just me. This isn’t the Kathy show. This is (a chance to) flip the House and get some work done for the state,” she concluded.
The 101st will be vacated at the end of the year by Rep. Curt VanderWall, RLudington, who is leaving office to pursue the 35th District State Senate seat.
Voters will decide between Wiejaczka and Hoogterp on the Aug. 7 primary ballot.
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The audience and Democratic candidates for the 101st State House seat Kathy Wiejaczka and Ed Hoogterp listen to a question during the candidate forum Tuesday evening at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts.
Ed Hoogterp discusses his views during Tuesday’s forum.