State House 94th District Candidate Forum: One Candidate Responds, One is Silent

    icon Sep 24, 2008
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Job creation, tax policy, budget cuts, education and the environment are among top issues in the 94th District campaign for the Michigan House of Representatives.

Incumbent Republican Ken Horn of Frankenmuth is seeking his second two-year term in the election on November 4th. He is facing the same foe he defeated in 2006, Democrat Bob Blaine of Swan Creek Township.

The duo served for 12 years together on the Saginaw County Board of Commissioners. They squared off for the open State Rep seat in 2006 because the
GOP's Dr. Roger Kahn stepped up to win his post in the Senate.

Republicans have an edge in the 94th District because the territory is mostly rural. The City of Frankenmuth is included, along with 12 townships.These townships are Albee, Birch Run, Blumfield, Chesaning, Frankenmuth, James, Maple Grove, Saginaw, St. Charles, Swan Creek, Taymouth and Thomas.

 Prior to the 2006 election, candidates Horn and Blaine both availed themselves to the generous space that Review Magazine continues to provide for candidate forums. We offer these Q&A sessions despite a distressing growth of apathy for local elections. (Example: City of Saginaw voter turnout for the August primary was 12 percent.)

We also are distressed  that Bob Blaine has seen fit to decline participating this time around in 2008. Therefore, you the reader will see responses only from Ken Horn on the vital issues in state government that affect your well-being here in Saginaw County.

We wish to provide a full explanation, so that no reader will perceive bias in regard to this publication. Bob Blaine answered his home telephone on September 10 and provided his e-mail to accept our modest list of forum questions. He was provided nine days to respond. If he felt he did not have time to write or type his responses, we offered to transcribe for him, in a process that would have required about 15 minutes of his valuable time.

Four telephone calls were placed to former Commissioner Blaine's home during the final three days of the deadline. We also went what might be termed beyond the call of duty, because we telephoned Saginaw County Democratic Party headquarters in an attempt to make a connection. Again, this was a fruitless quest.

Apparently we are not alone.

The Saginaw News reported in March that when Blaine filed his nominating petitions, he said his first goal was to create jobs, but that "he declined to elaborate or comment on other priorities."

 Ken Horn, 49, is a former small business owner who was vice president of the non-profit Saginaw Community Foundation until his election two years ago.

Bob Blaine, 56, is a Hemlock High School special education teacher and a family farmer.

 It is difficult for a grassroots publication such as Review Magazine to promote more voter participation, when candidates themselves do not cooperate in airing their views.
We hope readers will see that we took all steps in our power (except for calling Mr. Blaine's home in the middle of the night) to provide you with balanced information.
Following is a forum that we wish could have featured both candidates.

Review: Please outline your priorities for state government during the next two years.

Continuing our work to create a competitive economic climate is vitally important.  A leading priority for every Michigan citizen should be restoring our economic health and creating jobs.  Strategies to expand Hemlock Semiconductor, welcome TRW , and restructure Delphi will mean high-paying, highly skilled jobs for  Saginaw County residents.  The 21st Century Energy Plan that we are working on to provide greater energy independence is estimated to result in $20 billion dollars in new construction and 16,000 new construction jobs. This is a result of a very strong bipartisan effort from our Tri-County legislative team. I believe in friendship above partisanship.  (Editor's Note: The energy Bill Horn references will also create greater monopolization and an estimated increase in residential rates of up to 10 percent).

Blaine: No response.

Review: Would you cut the state budget? If so, in what way?

: I would cut the state budget.  Readers of this magazine will remember the Horn Two-Penny Plan, which proposed trimming 2 cents from every dollar of state spending.  This is a temperate approach to managing administrative costs, and requires Michigan government to live within its means.  I was outraged in the spring of 2007 that 19 state troopers were laid off, and not one person at the top of the pay scale even had to worry about a higher co-pay for their health insurance.  I support a reasonable approach that does not cut front-line services, and one where all departments share the burden of cutting back equally.

Blaine: No response.

Review: Would you increase any area of the state budget? If so, how would you pay for it?

Only by way of resetting our priorities.  One of my objectives is to put more dollars directly into classrooms as opposed to overhead costs, but the bottom line should remain the same.  I support prioritizing public safety, public education and infrastructure  - things that government should be responsible for. 

Blaine: No response

Review: Would you propose any reforms in education, either K-12 or higher education?

It's well known that one of the key elements of high school success for at-risk students is early childhood education.  Some of the legislation that I've written focuses on the preschool ages, zero-to-5, when a child is most apt to absorb learning.  Many educators feel that life patterns are set by the time kids get to middle school.   
Another objective of mine is legislation that reduces truancy.  Individuals without a high school diploma are less likely to hold a steady job and often aren't able to advance in their careers.  Combating truancy increases our capacity for productivity, and reduces the burden on our criminal justice system.

Blaine: No response.

Review: Does the Legislature need to enact any new initiatives in terms of the environment?

Earlier this year we passed the Great Lakes Water Compact, which still needs approval by Washington.  It is now important for all Michigan residents to encourage Congress to affirm the compact that the Great Lakes states have put in place.  The votes I cast this summer will protect our lake and groundwater system from extraordinary water withdrawal.
As a member of the House Energy and Technology
, I've been working this year on a package of bills to encourage renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.  In doing so we increase our energy independence, create jobs, and move toward green energy solutions.  What intrigues me is the opportunity to take traditional manufacturing and bring it into the 21st century.  For instance, if we can bend sheet metal for car fenders, we can certainly do it for wind turbines.

Blaine: No response.

Review: What are key areas in which you disagree with your opponent?

Horn: We disagree in terms of taxation, spending and government regulation.  Two years ago, for instance, higher taxes were among my opponent's solutions.  My solutions were based on government reform, stopping new spending, restructuring old spending and requiring Michigan government to live within its means.  My constituents sit at the kitchen table making tough budget decisions every day.  They should accept no less from their government officials.

Blaine: No response.

Review: Do you believe your opponent has misquoted or misportrayed your views in any way?

It's hard to tell.  In the only forum that we have shared together  my opponent was cut off by the moderator for negative and partisan remarks.  This is my 9th campaign for public office, and I've been successful in maintaining a very positive decorum in all my debates.  I have great respect for anyone who enters the rough and tumble arena of politics even if they choose to challenge me.  Bob is, after all, still one of my constituents and deserves my respect and regard as a resident of the 94th District.

Blaine: No response.

Review: How much do you plan to spend on this campaign? Please be specific. How much of this money will come from your state political party?

So far I've raised roughly $40,000 and am on track to raise the $50,000 that I expected to spend.  Because they feel my local campaign is strong and healthy, it's likely that I won't receive much financial help from my party unless it's required.  I am so fortunate that I have a wide base of local support, and we're still inviting people to join our cause in restoring Michigan and this region to its former glory.

Blaine: No response.

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