Priorities I believe require our focus in District 57:
Better Funding for Public Education
My top priority is repairing our education system. Our schools are underfunded at a rate of about $2000/student and teachers are overburdened with laws that are specific to them, taking up valuable lesson planning and collaboration time, while also punishing them by restricting access to organizing, capping negotiated benefits, and removing pensions entirely, for new teachers. Districts and administrations are also under burdensome documentation and testing requirements. My first steps are to propose fully funding schools, using the most current, verifiable research into the money our schools need to be effective, repeal laws about education that only serve to make it harder for us to educate our children, and to rewrite our charter school laws, so that our precious education tax dollars are used to educate our children, not become profit for Wall Street investors. For-profit charter management companies have no business taking money that is meant for educating our children.
Rebuilding and Repairing Our Infrastructure
We need a 2 billion dollar investment in our infrastructure, in order to bring our roads and bridges up to good and safe conditions. Our neighbors agree, that this is one of the top issues for everyone in Michigan. We are jeopardizing our safety and wasting our money on car repair, due to the conditions of our roads. Our communities’ water infrastructures need updating and repair, to protect all who use them. We have the tools and technology to update systems that were built decades ago, before we knew what risks would be associated with our water infrastructure. Now is the time to replace infrastructure at the end of its useful life, before there are problems, and repair existing issues.
Worker Protections and Wage Rights
I want to reinstate Prevailing Wage, repeal Right to Work (for less), and repeal the retiree tax on pensions. So many businesses have earned such high profits in Michigan, that it is reasonable for those businesses to invest in our neighbors, communities, and state. Prevailing Wage and Right to Organize laws protect our workers and their wages, by ensuring their voices are heard, collectively, and our retirees should be able to know that their fixed income, which they earned through years of hard work, will be theirs, in its entirety, to use throughout their well-earned retirement.
Other Important Positions I Support:
Better Voting Practices and Representation
It should be simple to both register to vote and cast a ballot. Michigan should have same-day registration, no-reason absentee voting, and consider adopting vote by mail. We need to consider how we can make voting more accessible and make funding campaigns less important. Some of this has to do with educating voters and engaging the public in such a way that our citizens are interested in following candidates and becoming informed. Gerrymandering practices unfairly distribute districts in such a way that many of our less privileged voices are unheard, and minority voters are often left behind. In addition to better voting practices, I believe that running for office is prohibitively expensive, and that this encourages special interests to make their voices heard by funding candidates. This isn’t an accurate, true representation of the needs of the voters who put candidates in office. Representatives should be elected by the people, for the people, and in order for that to happen they need to be drawn from the people, not from special interest groups.
Clean Energy is Key to Powering Our Future
We need to harness the natural energy of the wind and sun. We have the manufacturing capacity to build the infrastructure for wind and solar power, which is in plentiful supply in our beautiful home. This will also protect our home and its natural splendor for our children, grandchildren, and beyond, as we replace polluting, fossil-fuel consuming power generation with clean energy. We also need robust protections for our waterways and aquifer, as we have a remarkable resource in our fresh water, and a remarkable responsibility to protect it. Our vibrant agriculture community, in conjunction with our top-tier research universities, need our support and encouragement to find viable alternatives to fossil fuels to power our vehicles, homes, and businesses. We need to hold businesses accountable to restore our environment, when they damage it. Businesses have too much power to use our state as they choose and we need to ensure that they are good custodians of our home.
Diversity is the Backbone of Our Community
There is great socio-economic disparity and we can do better. As our representative, I will advocate for a livable wage, fair and reasonable housing availability, healthcare for all residents, and education sufficient to career readiness. I will work to break down the barriers to gainful employment by supporting public transportation, child care, and training for those who need it. I believe that we share a common goal of quality, safe schools that teach all of our shared history, so that we might be better neighbors to each other. I will also listen to historically disenfranchised people when they tell me what I can do to help. I will act on the issues those suffering from social and racial injustice bring to me. We can all benefit from anti-bias training and continuing updates of that training. This is particularly true for anyone employed by the state or in a public sector position and even more important for law enforcement personnel.