082915_7824Supporting Local Communities and Schools

Our state’s recovery is happening in our local communities. It is through the work of entrepreneurs, volunteers and the citizens of our cities, townships and villages that Michigan’s comeback is made possible. I have seen this first-hand during my years as mayor of Owosso – success stories are everywhere in our region.

State government must play a partnership role in assisting our local communities and schools so they can continue to provide essential services like public safety, parks, roads, and a world class education system.

For this reason, I have taken a pledge to not support any new unfunded mandates on local communities and school districts. I will also consider those mandates that already exist and take actions to eliminate them. Strong local control will be vital if we are to see Michigan’s comeback continue. Our local communities and schools will be foremost in my mind as your state representative.

Jobs in Mid-Michigan, for Mid-Michigan

Our communities can thrive only when jobs are growing in our state. While we are seeing positive developments in job numbers and lower unemployment, there is more to do to ensure that our local job providers can succeed in their effort to invest in our state.

I support regular review of our state agencies to ensure that permitting and regulatory processes are handled fairly and speedily. Delays can mean the difference between a small business succeeding or closing its doors.

ben 054Economic development programs should also be approached with an eye toward supporting local job providers – small and mid-sized businesses already investing in our state in particular. I will consider Michigan’s current and future efforts closely to ensure that economic development programs at the state level are truly a help to local entrepreneurs and not simply more hurdles and paperwork.

Emphasis on Vocational Education

Michigan has long been a state that innovates and builds things. We need to reinvigorate the skilled trades and agriculture careers. I will work to address barriers that exist to expanding trades education in our schools while encouraging partnerships between employers, educators and parents. Returning veterans and disabled workers also need to be given the chance to secure jobs in this state. Mid-Michigan is well positioned to prosper with the help of a skilled workforce.

Protecting our Agricultural Heritage

DSC_0125Our farming heritage is to be treasured. I have many fond memories of time spent at my grandparents’ dairy farm as a child. Sadly, many children and adults do not have much exposure to agriculture and are becoming removed from the importance of farming to our region and state. Support of our 4-H and FFA chapters is absolutely essential.

I will work to protect our family farms in the region while seeking partnerships that allow for export opportunities and the development of a thriving agricultural processing industry in Michigan. I support right-to-farm, MAEAP, and the efforts of our soil conservation districts. I also support initiatives to promote urban agriculture and exposure of our students to farming.

As your state representative, my approach to all policy involving agriculture will be consistent – I will seek first and foremost the input of our farmers.

Positive and Collaborative Approach

Merrill Parade 4Sadly, politics is largely defined by cynicism and negativity. I know from my work as mayor of a small town that the vast majority of the problems facing our state are not partisan problems and do not require partisan solutions. It is only by working together across the political spectrum that we can expect to make sustainable progress.

I’m committed to a positive and collaborative approach to this campaign and as your state representative.

Further updates are on the way – please check back in the coming days for more information on the campaign platform!