Bergman, Morgan vie for 1st Congressional District seat

MANISTEE COUNTY — The Nov. 6 ballot features two candidates running for Michigan’s 1st Congressional District seat, which encompasses the entire Upper Peninsula and 16 counties in the lower, northern region of Michigan.

U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, and Democratic challenger Matt Morgan, of Traverse City, answered a series of questions for the Manistee News Advocate, with responses under 250 words.

The News Advocate sent questionnaires to all candidates in contested races.

MNA: Please introduce yourself and describe your background, professionally, politically or personally.

BERGMAN: Highest-ranking combat veteran ever elected to the United States Congress. Freshman

BERGMAN

BERGMAN

Congressman from the 1st District of Michigan, comprised of 32 counties, including the entire Upper Peninsula and one-third of lower Michigan.

Served his country in the United States Marine Corps for 40 years. Began military career flying the CH-46 in Vietnam and retired as a three star Lt. General commanding the largest Force level organization in the Marine Corps.

Twenty-two years as a commercial airline pilot with Northwest Airlines. Successful small business owner for 30 years working in the operating room imaging equipment arena.

Elected Freshman Class President and chosen to chair the subcommittee on oversight and investigations for Veterans Affairs. Serves on three House Committees—budget, natural resources, and Veterans Affairs.

Named by Speaker Paul Ryan to serve on the National Defense Authorization Act House–Senate Conference as a House Budget Committee Conferee. Grandfather of eight wonderful grandchildren.

MORGAN: I grew up in a working class family in the rural Midwest. My dad worked highway construction and my mom was a public school teacher. We lived in an agricultural community – I spent my summers detasseling corn and walking beans.

My parents instilled in me the importance of faith, hard work and public service, which is why I sought

MORGAN

MORGAN

out military service. After graduating from the University of Illinois, I earned a commission in the United States Marine Corps. I am an Iraq War combat veteran, supported counter-terrorism work in the Horn of Africa, and spent my final years of service in Marine Forces Command and the Pentagon, where I provided counsel to numerous military leaders, including the Secretary of Defense.

I was also fortunate to meet my wife in the Corps, Angie, a fellow Marine and self-proclaimed Michigan ambassador, has deep roots in Northern Michigan and the U.P. She grew up in L’Anse and Kalkaska; she passed her passion for our part of Michigan on to me. When I retired from active duty, there was no doubt that we wanted to return home to raise our two sons in Michigan.

It is time for a new generation of leaders to step up for our country, who understand what it means to really represent their constituents. That’s why I have refused all corporate PAC money; I want to go to Washington owing my vote — and my voice — to no one but the people of northern Michigan and the U.P.

MNA: What policies do you support to meet U.S. energy needs, while protecting our resources for current and future generations? Explain how this impacts the Great Lakes.

BERGMAN: Balancing energy needs while protecting our natural resources is important to Michigan’s future, especially for the 1st District. The Great Lakes are the cornerstone of so many communities in Michigan, and our economies depend on them. The federal government should be investing resources in protecting and conserving our largest source of freshwater. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) is critical to this goal, which is why I have made funding the program a top priority of mine since coming to Congress.

I have and will continue to urge the administration to fund the program at $300 million. For instance, I have signed multiple letters urging the president, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the House Appropriations Committee to fully fund GLRI; additionally, as a member of the Budget Committee, I have personally advocated to OMB director Mulvaney about GLRI’s importance and demanded its full funding. Our advocacy at the congressional level resulted in a $300 million appropriation for FY18, and I will continue that same advocacy in years to come.

Bringing Michigan’s energy infrastructure into the 21st century while also keeping our Lakes safe is also extremely important. Since taking office 20 months ago, I’ve worked closely with Gov. Snyder to ensure our Straits remain safe while maintaining the flow of pipeline commerce. The proposed tunnel is a forward-thinking, innovative approach ensuring safety and continued economic stability. Michigan’s First District is long overdue to benefit financially from the continuous flow of products transiting our area. I will work tirelessly to ensure that the economic advantages from our current and future energy infrastructure directly benefit the constituents of the 1st District.

MORGAN: Like every national issue, I look at energy needs through the lens of the families of northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. In the nearly 19 months I’ve been running for office, I’ve knocked on thousands and thousands of doors in this district. I know energy prices, especially in rural parts of this district, are a real stress for a lot of folks. We need to prioritize infrastructure investment that will reduce costs and protect our natural resources.

Michigan’s 1st (District) has more shoreline than any other congressional district in the contiguous United States, and touches three Great Lakes. There is no greater ally for healthy watersheds than our district. The state’s recent agreement with Enbridge calls for a tunnel to be built in the next 7-10 years under the Straits of Mackinac. The risk a 65 year old pipeline poses will only increase in the next decade, and leaving its oversight primarily to a Canadian corporation is unacceptable. At the federal level, I would push the pipelines and Hazardous Materials Authority to dramatically increase its inspections of the line, and better prepare for all scenarios of a potential leak or rupture.

As we look to the future, it is imperative that northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula are prepared for the inevitable transition toward more renewable energy sources. Working at the federal level to find renewable energy options — and promoting the accompanying manufacturing and operational jobs to be contained entirely within this district — will be a top priority for me.

MNA: What are your concerns and plans regarding U.S. health care policies and programs, including those affecting maternal and child health?

BERGMAN: In my first term in Congress, I was proud to lead the fight on funding Community Health Clinics and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Following a long fight, and several short-term funding bills, the CHIP program was funded for the longest term in its history, and we reauthorized funding for Community Health Clinics for two years. These are the types of federal programs that provide overwhelmingly positive outcomes for the constituents of the 1st District. I will continue to support these impactful programs in the years ahead.

MORGAN: Health care is an issue people talk to me about every single day. I know the Affordable Care Act is deeply flawed, and that insurance premiums and prescription drug costs are rising at terrifying rates. We need bipartisan solutions that work to bring costs down, without sacrificing quality care, and without allowing corporations to bankrupt families who have pre-existing conditions.

At a community meet-up early in my campaign, I heard from a mom whose child became ill, very suddenly. They spent weeks in hospitals around the state. They saw bills that were for more than their house was worth, and they lived in fear of losing everything. I listened as she talked about her frustration with elected officials who were using the Children’s Health Insurance Program as a bargaining chip and political capital. We must increase access to care for children while decreasing the red tape/insurance fights parents must battle. The same is true for maternal health.

Looking at the numbers in Michigan’s 1st (more than 43,000 people have health insurance now that didn’t prior to the ACA), it’s clear many families are one grave illness or accident away from catastrophe. The pharmaceutical and health insurance lobbyists are some of the most powerful in Washington D.C. Their goal is to increase corporate profits, at our expense. I’ve refused all corporate and lobbyist money because I know in order to fix problems like health care in Michigan, we must first put an end to the greed in Washington.

avatar

Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

Leave a Reply