Candidates answer audience questions at forum

Candidates for the 19th Circuit Court judgeship, George Saylor and David Thompson, debate issues at a League of Women Voters candidate forum on Thursday at Manistee High School. (Justine McGuire/News Advocate)

Candidates for the 19th Circuit Court judgeship, George Saylor and David Thompson, debate issues at a League of Women Voters candidate forum on Thursday at Manistee High School. (Justine McGuire/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — Five candidates let the people of Manistee know where they stand on issues at a question-and-answer forum on Thursday at Manistee High School.

About 100 people found seats in the MHS auditorium for the evening debates. The audience was active in the process, handing in questions to Girl Scouts who patrolled the room.

Michigan House 101st District

Rep. Ray Franz, R-Onekama, and challenger Tom Stobie, a Democrat from Frankfort, took the stage first.

Franz is running for a third term.

“I’ve done everything I ran on four years ago,” he said in his opening statement. “We’ve turned the state around.”

He said important issues for the district are having a balanced, on-time state budget and renewable energy.

Stobie is a retired school administrator, who’s running on the issues of K-12 school funding, veteran benefits and senior issues.

He said some of the most important issues facing the district are education and tourism.
Both candidates told the audience their stance on right-to-work.

Franz said right-to-work is a positive thing that allows people to have a choice and forces unions to better represent members. He said the top 10 growth states are right-to-work states.

Stobie said he wouldn’t have voted for the bill, and that he would work to repeal it if elected.

“Unions have built this state,” he said. “Unions have put money in the pockets of citizens through collective bargaining. Taking that away is detrimental to this state.”

With respect to charter schools, the candidates had opposite opinions with Franz in support and Stobie wanting to pull back the reins.

Candidates George Saylor (19th Circuit Court judgeship), Tom Stobie (Michigan House 101st District), Glenn Lottie (Michigan Senate 35th District), and David Thompson (19th Circuit Court judgeship) pose together after a League of Women Voters candidate forum on Thursday at Manistee High School. (Justine McGuire/News Advocate)

Candidates George Saylor (19th Circuit Court judgeship), Tom Stobie (Michigan House 101st District), Glenn Lottie (Michigan Senate 35th District), and David Thompson (19th Circuit Court judgeship) pose together after a League of Women Voters candidate forum on Thursday at Manistee High School. (Justine McGuire/News Advocate)

Franz said there’s a need for charters because some school are failing, and they give parents a choice.
Stobie said he has concerns about charter schools, and they should be capped until transparency and accountability are under control.

When asked about jobs, Franz said the answer to bringing them to Michigan was to eliminate the Michigan Business Tax. Stobie said the answer is to have a good education system, so there is an educated work force, and to pay a living wage.

“Tax breaks don’t create jobs; it’s people spending money,” Stobie said.

Franz said bringing more businesses to Michigan will increase pay rates because companies will compete for workers.

In closing statements, Franz said: “When I took office this state was in deep trouble; we’ve turned that around.”

Stobie said the voters’ choice is between business-as-usual and someone who has made a commitment to make changes is education, the environment and senior pensions.

Michigan Senate 35th District

Glenn Lottie, who is challenging Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, sat on the stage alone.

“I am a person who gets involved in the community,” Lottie said in his opening statement. “I care about community. I care about people. I care about getting things done. I feel this district deserves representation; most people don’t even know who Booher is.

“I will do what I can for the people. I will do the best I can. I have a lot of ideas.”

In response to audience questions, he said he supports background checks for gun purchases and no-reason absentee voting, restoring unions, keeping Detroit on the forefront and working to revitalize it and a carbon tax.

The two biggest issues facing the state are poverty and development, Lottie said.

19th Circuit Court Judge

Running for the 19th Circuit Court Judgeship are George Saylor and David Thompson. Both grew up in Manistee, went to law school, and then took vastly different professional paths. Saylor has worked in a private law firm in Manistee for 30 years, while Thompson went into public work, and has worked as an attorney referee for many years.

Both candidates agreed that it’s important to give special consideration within the law to defendants who are mentally ill. They also agreed that restorative justice is beneficial to victims of crimes, however, Thompson said it’s difficult to get perpetrators to participate.

Saylor and Thompson agreed that lack of respect is the single most behavior that causes the most problems in a courtroom and on a personal level.

“Without respect, it’s hard to accomplish justice,” Thompson said.

They also agreed that if an attorney is poorly representing a client, a judge would need to address it.

“What we can’t have is an attorney who isn’t prepared or qualified,” Saylor said.

In his closing statements Thompson said: “This is a historic opportunity, it’s been more than 30 years since voters in Benzie and Manistee counties have had this opportunity to select a circuit court judge. I’m confident that … voters have enough information to make that decision.”

Saylor said: “I have the qualification and experience, and certainly have the desire, to be the next circuit court judge.”

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Posted by Justine McGuire

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