Getting to know candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives

LAKE COUNTY — In an effort to help voters get to know the candidates on the Nov. 6 election ballot, the Star asked candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives to answer questions about the office they seek.

In the 2nd District race for the House, Republican Bill Huizenga, of Zeeland, is seeking a fifth term in office. He is being challenged by Democrat Rob Davidson, of Spring Lake, and Ronald Graeser, of Fremont, who is running on the U.S. Taxpayers Party ticket.

The 2nd District includes all of Lake, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana and Ottawa counties and areas of Allegan, Kent and Mason counties. The position is a two-year term.

Polls will be open to voters from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 6.

Why did you decide to run for office?

Huizenga: My children are the reason I ran for public office and they continuously inspire me to strive for an environment of prosperity for their generation — one that will encourage job creation through private sector growth, reducing the size of government and keeping Americans safe both at home and abroad — as well as for future generations.

I was born in Zeeland and have spent my whole life here in west Michigan. As a small business owner and a former Realtor, I know it is the private sector that creates jobs. As Congressman, I have worked to protect the Great Lakes as well as implement real solutions that remove government barriers and increase opportunity for hard-working families in Muskegon County and across west Michigan.

I was elected to Congress based on three key principles: Create jobs, stop spending and protect life. These principles still define my role in Congress. I have continually supported serious budgets that put the nation on a more sustainable fiscal course. I will continue to pursue reforms that eliminate wasteful spending and make meaningful changes to get our nation’s fiscal house in order.

Davidson: I decided to run because I realized Congress was increasingly out-of-touch with ordinary people. Rather than working to help people who are struggling to afford healthcare and living paycheck-to-paycheck, too many in Congress are focused on serving corporate special interests and wealthy campaign donors. We have big challenges like rising healthcare costs, stagnant wages, threats to our environment and struggling schools, which require big ideas and bold solutions.

Graeser: I am running in an attempt to free the average U.S. working citizen who is enslaved by millions of regulations and laws that dictate what he can and can’t do, with fines and imprisonment accompanying these laws and regulations. He also is enslaved by large taxes, both direct and visible, and invisible, which raise the cost of everything he buys or uses.

As a Congressman, I will do what is possible to return the federal government to its constitutionally authorized functions. No longer will the citizens be encouraged to look to the federal government to solve their problems. Currently the federal government offers itself as a god to its citizens. No human nor human institution can satisfy that goal. I will do all I can to make the federal government perform its most important and primary function: Protect innocent human life. In other words, once again, make abortion against the law.

What do you believe are the two most pressing issues facing the 33rd District? Prioritize them. What, if anything, do you plan to do about these issues if you are elected?

Davidson: Healthcare and reducing the influence of money in politics. I am proud to be endorsed by End Citizens United, a group that is focused on campaign finance reform. On day one, I pledge to work with other lawmakers to push for comprehensive campaign finance reform, including legislation that moves us closer to publicly financed elections, greater financial disclosure standards and reducing the influence lobbyists have over our political process.

Graeser: The most pressing federal problems I can address are taxes and regulations. I will try to repeal taxes and regulations.

Huizenga: Specifically for Lake County, I want to prioritize and focus on addressing the skills gap and promoting economic opportunity.

There’s no question the economy is thriving. The unemployment rate has now dipped to 3.9 percent, its lowest point since December 2000. Wages and disposable income are climbing, and growth remains strong. However, amidst all these positives, employers in Lake County and all across the 2nd District are struggling to recruit skilled workers to fill job vacancies. I believe we can and should do more to help equip people with a skillset that will help them find and maintain a good-paying job.

It is incumbent upon all leaders — local leaders, state officials and federal leaders — to improve things such as educational curriculums so more people can be ready to enter the workforce. I will continue working to support initiatives that utilize skills training and workforce development to help lift Americans out of poverty.

After historic tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks, economic growth has increased. Unemployment is at historic lows, paychecks are growing and wages are rising. Small businesses are now able to invest more of their money into growing their business and create new jobs in our communities. Economic optimism is growing. With more job opportunities and lower unemployment, consumer confidence is on the rise and Americans are finally having a chance to become full participants in our economy and achieve the American dream.

If new resources were available, what one area of services would you feel most needs additional resources?

Graeser: The federal government has no mandate to deliver services and should not be involved in health and human services, education and the thousands of agencies that dole out money (and regulations) to the many select groups of citizens. If the individual states want to do that, they have the legal authority to do so.

Huizenga: First, I want to be clear that we must stop spending money we don’t have as quickly as possible. The problem is clear: Washington is addicted to spending. With our nation’s debt now over $21 trillion, action must be taken, and I support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution

As co-chair of the Great Lakes Task Force, I have built bipartisan support to fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). This program has a proven track record of effectively cleaning up polluted sites, combating the spread of invasive species such as Asian carp and restoring Great Lakes habitat for fish and wildlife. A healthy Great Lakes ecosystem leads to a healthy Great Lakes economy.

I have led the charge to restore the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to ensure the federal government lives up to its obligations to properly maintain our ports and guarantee our harbors across the Great Lakes are properly dredged. Our ports and harbors are critical to growing the local economy and play a significant role in exporting more made in Michigan products. Prior to my involvement, only 47 percent of dollars designated to harbor maintenance actually were used for their intended purpose. Now, 95 percent of fees collected for harbor maintenance will be used as intended.

Since 2010, Congress has provided more than $2 billion in funding to promote the cleanup of toxic hotspots, prevent the spread of invasive species, curb the growth of harmful algal blooms and promote the overall well-being of the Great Lakes.

Davidson: Our public schools. A child in Muskegon should have the very same opportunities that a child in Spring Lake has afforded to them. When we fail to fully fund our public schools, we are failing our children. I would support full federal funding of our public schools, so teachers have the resources they need and children are getting a fair shot.

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Posted by Tim Rath

Tim is the Pioneer's associate editor. He also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Veterans pages. He can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at trath@pioneergroup.com.

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