Hoogterp, Wiejaczka vie for spot on Democratic ticket

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part 1 of 2 in a series of a candidate questionnaire for Democratic and Republican candidates running in the Aug. 7 primary election for the Michigan 101st District House of Representatives. Part 1 includes responses from the candidates on the Democratic ticket. Part 2, Republican responses, will be published in Monday’s edition.

MANISTEE COUNTY — In the Aug. 7 primary election, voters will decide which Democratic and which Republican candidate will represent the party in the general election on Nov. 6 for Michigan 101st District House of Representatives.Election feat

On the Democratic ticket, Edward Hoogterp, of Beulah, will face off against Kathy Wiejaczka, of Empire, and Republicans Carolyn Cater, of Ludington, and Jack O’Malley, of Lake Ann, will vie for the spot.

The Manistee News Advocate sent questionnaires to all candidates. Responses are only edited if they exceed the word limit.

MNA: Please introduce yourself and describe your background, professionally, politically or personally (100 words).

HOOGTERP: As Benzie County drain commissioner, Ed Hoogterp works for clean water and sustainable land use practices. He is past president of the Crystal Lake & Watershed Association, and helped develop watershed plans for the Betsie and Little Manistee Rivers.

HOOGTERP

HOOGTERP

He was a newspaper editor and reporter in Manistee, Grand Rapids, Jackson and Lansing, including several years covering the Legislature as a member of the state capitol press corps. He has written extensively about government services, agriculture and rural economies.

Ed and his wife, Millie, live on 20 organically managed acres in Benzonia Township, near Beulah. They have three grown children.

WIEJACZKA: As a resident of Empire for the past 36 years, my husband and I raised three children and own a small family construction business. A lifetime of service to others is demonstrated through my career as a registered nurse for the past 39 years in many specialty areas such as obstetrics, pediatrics, hospital supervisor, special education school nurse, and currently as an adjunct instructor at Ferris State University. I have actively served my community through my church, American Cancer Society volunteer patient driver, serving on two Board appointed seats, and volunteer captain on the Voters Not Politicians petition drive.

MNA: What are your top three legislative priorities and how would you address them? (200 words)

HOOGTERP: Restore trust in government. This begins with a personal commitment to decline all special interest money and limit individual donations to $100 or less. We have to get big money and negative campaigning out of the election process. On a policy level, we should get beyond artificial labels such as “conservative” “liberal” or “pro-gun” and work to find solutions to common problems.

Develop policies and revenue sources (including taxes) to improve and stabilize state funding for public education, environmental protection, health care, human services and infrastructure. Tax cuts have been a failed experiment in Michigan. Our schools, parks, highways and overall economy were once the envy of the nation. Now, after decades of cuts in taxes and services we are in the bottom half. It’s time to turn that around. Michigan’s overall tax burden is below the national average. A small increase could provide millions of dollars for better services.

Create partnerships to share state funding with local government, non-profits and private business to address such issues as clean water, affordable housing, child care, workforce training, homelessness and addiction. For many years the state has reduced funding shares for local services. These should be restored and increased.

WIEJACZKA

WIEJACZKA

WIEJACZKA: My top three legislative priorities are to support affordable, quality health care for all, improve and fund the public education system, and create living wage jobs with benefits. In health care we need to protect the Medicaid expansion, bring key health care players to the table to solve the issues, and rein in prescription drug costs through legislation that would limit the increase on prescription costs to 10% per year or face a hefty fine. We need good, equitable funding for public education especially increased teacher training and strong, consistent standards for 100% accountability for all schools including charter schools. We should increase the skilled trades programs in public schools to train our students for their future. Finally, I support increasing the minimum wage to a living wage, and restoring the prevailing wage act. If everyone has quality affordable healthcare, our Michigan economy will grow especially for small businesses

MNA: What policies do you support to increase jobs and help Michigan residents improve their economic positions? (200 words)

HOOGTERP: The most important thing is to protect the quality of our water and other natural resources, including the dunes, lakes, rivers, forests and soils that form the base of our Northern Michigan economy. Other conditions for a strong local economy include: An educated workforce; up-to-date infrastructure for the movement of goods, services, people, energy and ideas; livable wages, including a higher minimum wage; and access to needed services such as health care.

We need to work on improving those things (which overlap with policies for education, the environment and social services) rather than hand-outs to new businesses.

Economists tell us that workers will likely change careers more often than in past decades. That places a premium on lifelong education. Community colleges are in the best position to address this need. I support state funding to enhance opportunities for lifelong learning, retraining, and skill development.

High speed internet remains unavailable in many of our rural areas. I will support state coordination and subsidies to make broadband available everywhere. As part of the state’s tourism promotion effort, I would encourage development in some of our beautiful but less-well-known communities, rather than directing tourists only to sites that are already overcrowded.

WIEJACZKA: Small businesses account for 50% of the workforce in Michigan. We need to support small business growth by providing grants, and also funding for a retirement savings plan; and developing a small business office to promote the creation of small businesses in Michigan. In addition, promoting high speed internet in our rural district will create jobs, increase business opportunities, and attract tourists.

Affordable health care for all will decrease small business expenditures and assure viability of our businesses in Michigan.

Partnerships between businesses and schools need to be created teaching the skills necessary for high demand jobs in our state.

MNA: What steps do you propose Michigan take to improve educational outcomes and accessibility for students from early childhood through post-secondary education? (200 words)

HOOGTERP: Michigan’s education system suffers from inadequate funding, and from ideological micro-managing by the Legislature. More money is needed at all levels – grade school, high school, community college and university.

Thirty years ago we were above the national norm in both funding and student outcomes. Today, after decades of budget cuts, Michigan is below average in virtually all educational measures. As a State Representative, I will work for increased funding so public schools can offer smaller class sizes, universal pre-school, and more counselors and support staff.

The state should provide funding for local policies to give parents and students confidence that their schools are safe. School districts should work with law enforcement to determine whether certified police officers are deployed as armed security. I oppose any effort to arm teachers during the school day. (“A teacher should carry a gun when she’s hunting deer – not when she’s teaching class.”)

As one who is taking no contributions from either side, I will be in a position to bridge the chasm of distrust between legislative Republicans and Democratic-leaning teacher organizations. We need to restore a level of respect so these groups can function together as stakeholders in the state’s most important function.

WIEJACZKA: Michigan can improve educational outcomes by making school funding equitable throughout the state. Students in rural schools like the 101st district receive less funding per student than school districts downstate and also bussing expenses are not a separate stipend but instead are included in the per pupil funding. In the 101st district, many of our students are bussed for long distances with this expense paid out of the student fund.

We should make birth to community college education affordable for all Michigan residents. We need to make childcare affordable for all by raising the child care eligibility and reimbursement rates from one of the lowest in the country to a competitive level.

Michigan needs to provide more funding for at risk students, special education students, and career tech students.

MNA: What actions or policies do you support to protect Michigan’s water, air and land for current and future generations, while meeting the state’s energy needs? (200 words)

HOOGTERP: More than 40 years after President Nixon signed the Clean Water Act, it is distressing to realize that Michigan residents still suffer from toxic lead, PFAS and petroleum byproducts in rivers, lakes, groundwater and drinking water supplies.

Water is life (and a huge economic resource). We have a responsibility to protect it for ourselves and our children.

The state must develop and fund a strategy for monitoring of water quality in lakes, streams, groundwater and residential water supplies – and for responding quickly to any problems.

The Department of Environmental Quality needs additional staff and a renewed mandate to place protection of air, water and land resources above the desires of business. I will propose a program to address local environmental issues by directing some state funding to county conservation districts and other agencies.

The 101st District, stretching from Ludington to Northport, has the finest freshwater resources in North America. Nowhere else will you find such quality and diversity. Deepwater harbors and miles of Lake Michigan shore. Inland lakes: Hamlin, Bear, Crystal, Glen and Leelanau. Unmatched rivers: Pere Marquette, Little Manistee, Pine, Big Manistee, Betsie and Platte…

Whoever serves this district must be ready to stand and fight for this resource.

WIEJACZKA: Michigan is third in the Midwest states for clean energy employment. Renewable energy sources are the cheapest way to generate electricity in Michigan. We can control the costs and grow our economy through renewable energy. Michigan should increase its Renewable Portfolio Standard to 100% by 2050.

We should reduce our carbon emissions by 35% below current levels by 2020 to reduce air pollution. The asthma rate in Michigan is 25% higher than the national average and Michigan ranks 7th in the nation with deaths from air pollution.

We must shut down line 5 because the risk of the pipeline rupturing is far too great, and an oil spill would decimate the Great Lakes and northern Michigan’s tourism industry.

I support measures to increase recycling in our state as Michigan is among the worst in the nation due to cheap landfill fees.

We need to remove the DEQ oversight panel that hands regulatory authority to private industry and makes it easier for businesses to exploit our lands.

 

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