Issues

On why I am running for re-election for State Representative

I have enjoyed many blessings in my 58 years of life in southwest Michigan. Blessings of health, family, friends and business are just a few. I strongly believe in being grateful for life’s blessings and in giving back to society in whatever way a person can.

Public service in elected office is one way of giving back. It is my goal that as an elected official I can help the next generation in Michigan by providing great educational and employment opportunities so that they too can enjoy a high quality of life in our wonderful area.

Improving our economy

Things in Michigan are getting better, but there is still work to be done. Continuing to grow our economy will remain one of my top priorities. As our economy grows stronger, high-paying, quality jobs have become available to anyone who is willing to work hard. Whether you have an advanced degree or are skilled in a trade or are just willing to work your way up in a company, the key is having an opportunity to use your skills in a quality job. I have voted to remove burdensome regulations and eliminated unnecessary regulatory hurdles to ensure job providers will find Southwest Michigan as the best place to do business.

Our quality of life in Michigan is rising, but we must not give up on those who still need help. I promise to work with my colleagues to invest in areas that have been ignored in the past, such as mental health care and prisoner rehabilitation and education. Michigan is already a better state than it was a few years ago. Let’s make it a better state than any other.

Providing excellent educational opportunities to all students

After serving on the Berrien Springs Public Schools Board of Education for 14 years, and now two years as state representative serving on the House Education Committee, I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of changes, challenges, reforms, and improvements to our schools.

As your state representative, I have advocated for increased investment in education, ensuring that more money is sent to classrooms. Our parents and students deserve and should expect the best resources are being used to give them the brightest future possible. I am a strong proponent of public education, and also understand the value of parochial schools and parents’ rights to teach their children at home. All of these educational choices should receive the same resources and be available to all students, which is why I voted to lift and remove the Charter School Cap. This gives parents more options in their child’s eduation and increases the opportunity for cyber schools, extending a larger offering of classes and subjects to students around the state, regardless of where they live.

My relationships with school administrators, teachers, and support staff have made working together towards intelligent solutions to our educational challenges possible. I will continue to seek their input and feedback and we make the right decisions for our students and the 78th District.

Agriculture, a driving force of our economy

Growing up on a fruit farm and spending my entire life in agriculture has been a real blessing in my life. I started my own fruit storage, packing and marketing business at age 23 and now also farm an apple orchard with my family.

I know first-hand the many risks and challenges farmers face, and we need to be able to reduce some of those risks, and the numerous, burdensome rules and regulations for how their operations are run. I have, and will continue to, use my life-long experience in agriculture and my relationships with agricultural leaders to work towards sensible solutions on agricultural issues. Agriculture is a driving force behind our economy and economic comeback. We must recognize, promote and expand on the many great contributions agriculture has made to our economy and in our communities.

Our home, Southwest Michigan

Southwest Michigan is a wonderful place to live, work, and visit. Our small towns and rural landscapes, decorated with beautiful beaches, parks, farms, and wineries, are prize possessions. I am so proud and blessed to have spent my life in this area, and the lessons I’ve learned and the beauty of our area is always a factor when I’m considering legislation. As a member of the House Tourism Committee I’ve worked tirelessly to promote Southwest Michigan as a destination for families, tourists, and agricultural tourism. I hope that everyone is able to experience the wonderful Southwest Michigan we all know and love.

There is nothing more important to me than ensuring that the next generation can have the same opportunities and same great life in southwest Michigan that my family and I have been fortunate to experience.

Crafting a smaller, more efficient government

The best government is the smallest and most efficient government that can get the job done. As a school board member, county commissioner, and now as a state representative, I have always believed that we can spend a little less than we receive.

These are your tax dollars and it is critically important that elected officials remember that first and foremost. We need to be vigilant to ensure that the wages and benefits that government workers receive are a fair reflection of those in our communities. Those who choose to work in government, especially at the local levels, should be valued for their contribution to society. Regulations imposed by government should serve the public interest and safety in a reasonable manner.

Businesses trying to comply with regulations should be given a fair chance to make corrections before facing penalties. I have taken a common sense, conservative approach to government in Lansing, and remain a careful steward of public funds.

Fixing our roads, bridges, and public transportation

Improving our roads and bridges and our overall transportation system is key to Michigan’s future success. I have been working very hard to find a sustainable solution during my first term as your state representative.

Our roads are a critical part of our economy. Businesses rely on transportation and logistics to move products and customers to their locations. Poor roads and high gas prices impact our third largest industry, tourism. Families and residents need safe, well-maintained roads to truly be able to enjoy and thrive in their communities.

We are taking the first critical first steps in improving Michigan’s roads and bridges, and we have invested over $600 million in Michigan’s infrastructure without raising taxes. I will continue to work on finding a long-term solution to repair and maintain our roads for future generations.

Working together to benefit Southwest Michigan

Government today often seems to be led from the “extremes.” We need to come together and have an open and considerate dialogue between persons with opposing views. That is the only way to have honest conversations and to reach reasonable compromises.

Do a careful study of our nation’s founding fathers, and you will see compromise in action as our constitution was formed. I have been willing to cross the aisle in Lansing to work towards solutions with all members of the legislature, without compromising my conservative views and values.

Reducing taxes, being responsible with your money

My record as an elected official is one of being very conservative in the area of spending public dollars. I have worked to reduce taxes by $641 million, voted to restructure the income tax, repeal driver responsibility fees on motorists, rolled back the Income Tax to 3.9% saving taxpayers $2.8 billion, and sponsored a bill to allow senior citizens to maintain their homestead property tax exemption while living in assisted living facilities.

My family

The greatest blessing in my life is my family.

My wife Sue and I have raised two sons and two daughters. We have been to countless plays, performances and sporting events. I have coached more youth sports teams than I can remember. Pouring our lives into the lives of our children has been our highest calling. I always consider the value of family life in every vote I cast.

My values

I strongly believe in personal responsibility. Our society should seek to give each person the freedom and opportunity to choose his or her own path in life. It is up to the individual, then, to define the “good” in life and to set and to pursue meaningful goals. The individual is challenged to take charge of his or her own life with self-discipline and determination. This view of life celebrates freedom, opportunity, character and integrity.