The 94th State Representative contest for the seat currently held by Frankenmuth Republican Ken Horn is one of the pivotal races that will determine the representative balance in the Michigan legislature for Saginaw County voters.
While a recent Bloomberg financial study ranks Michigan's economic health since the advent of he Snyder Administration as the second best in the country, on the other side of the fence Michigan's per capita state income levels are 11 percent below the national average. Additionally, serious concerns have surfaced within our state ranging from the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the Great Lakes, poised to threaten the purity of our groundwater as well as the natural beauty and strength of Michigan's tourism trade, to attempts by the Michigan legislature to severely alter the intent of Michigan's voter approved Medical Marijuana Law, which state higher courts recently ruled upon.
In the interest of providing an in-depth forum whereby a fully informed electorate can better distinguish the differences & positions between candidates seeking this office, we present the following candidate forum between Republican Tim Kelly and Democrat Judith Lincoln for your deliberation and review.
Review: Describe your diplomas and degrees, including major and minor, and any professional licenses and public offices you have held. What qualifies you to seek this office? Name your top three donors, and your top three legislative agendas.
Kelly: I moved to Saginaw from Indiana in 1995, when took a position with Governor John Engler as his Education Policy Advisor. I also helped create, organize and administer, the Michigan Department of Workforce Development, as the Special Advisor to the Director of the DWD. Prior to that, I held various positions in economic and workforce development with the Bayh Administration in Indiana, including the Executive Director of the Indiana Human Resource Investment Council, the Executive Director of the Indiana Council on Vocational Education, and as a Business Development Specialist with the Indiana Department of Commerce.
Before that I worked in the private sector for my family's emulsified asphalt materials company, beginning as a Production Assistant in Indiana, and ending as a Sales Manager in Texas and Colorado prior to the sale of the company in the mid 80's. I have been married for almost 17 years to my wife Deenie (Harvey), a native of Saginaw, and we have two teenage sons.
I have a BA in Mass Communications from the University of Denver. I was elected as a Saginaw County Commissioner in 2010, representing portions of Saginaw Township. I believe that my past experience working in the relevant areas of economic development, education, and job training has uniquely prepared me to be an effective legislator in helping to restore Michigan's economy.
Lincoln: I received a BBA summa cum laude from SVSU in 1986 with a major in Business Management and a minor in Legal Studies. I received a law degree (JD) cum laude from Wayne State University Law School in 1989 and have been licensed to practice law since November 1989. I was elected trustee on the Saginaw Township Community Schools Board of Education in 1998 and re-elected in 2002 and 2006, serving until my third term ended in June 2010. As all members of the STCS Board of Education, I received no compensation or benefits while serving. I was elected to the Saginaw County Commission for the two-year term 2009-10.
I was raised in a middle-class family. I have worked for 40-plus years and held jobs such as food server and secretary/legal assistant while raising children, for some years as a single parent. My very supportive husband and children moved to metro Detroit so I could attend law school as a non-traditional student. All of my life experiences before law school gave me unique perspective as I was balancing family responsibilities with law studies. I understand the issues and challenges faced by middle class families. Much of my law practice involved representing businesses from local family businesses to large corporations. This experience provides perspective from the business/employer point of view.
Having worked in diverse environments, I understand the challenges women face in the workplace. I understand the challenges women face when others attempt to control their health decisions. I understand the importance of community service, having volunteered thousands of hours to non-profit organizations boards and programs over the years. My experiences as an elected official on the Board of Education and the County Commission have provided important insight on the consequences to the local community from decisions made by the state legislature. Recently I have worked as a public policy analyst where I devote most of my time to analyzing and critiquing federal and state laws, regulations and policies. I understand how statutes, regulations and policies impact people from all walks of life.
Top 3 donors: Myself, MEA and UAW. Top three legislative agendas: Economic recovery and job growth. Preservation of the middle class including recognition of the importance of public employees such as public safety workers and teachers. Education from early child through higher education.
Review: If elected, will you seek bipartisan compromise to the exclusion of honoring core principles, or vice versa? How do you feel about those persons who would vote against you in this election?
Lincoln: Bipartisan compromise is necessary but compromise must come from both political parties. I do, however, believe that compromise is possible without ignoring “core principles”. As I have in all of the elected positions I have held, I will represent all people regardless of how they may have voted, or whether they voted at all. It is imperative that the person elected be willing to take into consideration the ideas and opinions of the people they represent and not superimpose their own beliefs.
Kelly: I think it's important for all politicians, or any group of people trying to solve problems together, to seek compromise. “Compromise to the exclusion of honoring core principles” however evokes a situation where there may have been none to begin with. Politics, we are told, is the art of the possible. A majority will inevitably drive any issue to its most favorable outcome. If that outcome is viewed as an overreach by another majority, than an alternative develops. Good policy/governance is not always simply following a soft middle.
Review: In the relationship between governments and the private sector economy, which is parasite and which is host? Do you think it is a little unfair to expect a candidate for public office to promise to create new private sector jobs? Do you condone government intervention in financial markets and industries, and would you condone further economic stimulus? If so, should the federal government bailout state and local governments to save public sector jobs? Do you think corn should be used for fuel?
Kelly: The relationship between government and the private sector is symbiotic. Despite the confiscatory nature of taxes, governments do provide value in such services as defense, police/fire protection, roads/infrastructure, etc. On the other hand, suggesting that the private sector economy is the parasite with the battle cry of “you didn't build that”, demonstrates a government-centered economic philosophy that has and will continue to fail if not immediately abated.
Nobody forces a candidate for public office to promise to create private sector jobs. If your question is “do I think it is a little unfair to expect a candidate to deliver on such promises, then my answer is absolutely not. I do not think it unfair to hold politicians to their word. Politicians have the power to provide an atmosphere for job growth or decline through fiscal and regulatory policy. Exhibit A: Michigan under Governor Snyder and the U.S. under President Obama.
I do not favor bailouts of any kind, nor would I condone or favor further stimulus.
The question should not be whether or not I think corn should be used for fuel, but whether corn should be utilized for fuel at the expense of raising commodity prices. Corn should be food first and fuel later.
Lincoln: In a healthy economy, neither government nor private sector should be parasite or host. Both are necessary for orderly economic development and neither should feed off of or be in command of the other. I believe it is appropriate for a candidate to promise to work collaboratively with other elected officials and departments at the state and local level to create an environment for private sector job creation. This framework should include incentives for actual creation of new, sustainable jobs that pay enough for employees to support their families.
Some government regulation is necessary and I support regulation and oversight that is not outdated and/or unreasonable. Certain industries, such as the financial industry, have demonstrated the need for regulation and oversight. I believe that government has a role to play in economic recovery and stimulus, but programs should be collaborative, well-designed, actively monitored and fiscally efficient
Review: This summer the Michigan Supreme Court established the broad and liberal application of the medical marijuana defense, and rejected hyper-technical limitations on the medical marijuana law. Do you approve of the conduct of those police who continue to arrest medical marijuana patients and caregivers, or do you favor enacting laws to establish an open and meaningful legal process to review and punish predatory police practices in the future?
Lincoln: The Supreme Court decision stated that the citizen-initiated and voter-approved ballot initiative on medical marijuana provided relatively broad protection from prosecution so long as the registration processes are followed. In essence, the Supreme Court rejected prosecutions for acts that fell within the language of the ballot initiative as passed. This ruling by the Supreme Court becomes part of state law and police departments should act in accordance with its guidance.
Kelly: I support making medical marijuana access better and safer for legitimate patients.
Review: The practice known as Induced hydraulic fracturing (fracking) uses pressurized fluid to force unconventional natural case and petroleum formations into natural underground reservoirs, from which it is more efficiently extracted. France has banned the practice and New York has issued a moratorium. Do you think the practice should be banned in the US, given that most of the energy produced in Michigan through fracking will be sold in international markets and not necessarily affect domestic energy pricing? If not, what do you propose to do about groundwater contamination that has occurred in every state that has adopted fracking - especially given that much of the fracking taking place in Michigan is in Northern recreation areas and near the largest bodies of fresh water in the world
Kelly: I do not support a ban or a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.
Lincoln: I am opposed to fracking in Michigan until long-term, scientifically sound and validated testing proves that can be done without contaminating groundwater and without causing any other negative environmental consequences.