Issues of Concern for District 104 Constituents

As I travel around the District and listen to constituent concerns, I will address them here. Watch for this section to be updated frequently.

Economic Security

Our District 104 is home to two types of residents. There are people who own property and live here seasonally and/or rent it out to visitors. For the most part, they enjoy economic security. The people who live here year-round do the heavy lifting to make sure their communities thrive. They are the ones most impacted with economic insecurity. Many work in the service industries, making it difficult to make ends meet when seasonal visitors go home.

As your representative, I will work to provide more opportunities and tools to increase economic security and quality of life for everyone. I am open to all ideas; here are some.

• Job-creating grants for small businesses, including incentives and technical support for employee-owned enterprises
• Reliable broadband and cell service for residents to work from a remote location
• Housing support
• High-quality, affordable childcare
• Fair wages, support for unions
• An engaging public-school education (including early childhood and post-secondary education)
• Affordable and accessible quality health care (including mental health and family planning)
• Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit
• Career/job counseling
• Reliable public transportation
• Unemployment benefits for those who cannot find another job in or near their community if they work a seasonal job
• Local food supports for farmers and ranchers, healthy food accessibility
• Assistance to find grant programs and help with application (such as home repair, down-payment for a home, etc.)
• Strengthen public-private partnerships, to work within communities
• Hold corporations responsible for price gouging, enforce anti-trust laws

Pro-life or Pro-choice?

One question I get asked often is “Are you pro-life or pro-choice?” That’s difficult to answer because I am both. I believe every born person deserves to live their best life; and it is up to all of us to support others’ as they live their lives. The decision to have a child is personal and should not involve government intervention, especially if we say we value freedom (which I do). People who become pregnant have the right to make this decision in their own lives.

I wholeheartedly support developmentally appropriate comprehensive sex education, starting in middle school and the availability of contraception. Research shows that abortion rates go down when teens are given both.

Our reproductive freedom will continue to be challenged unless we put a stop to it now. Recently 195 Republican US House Representatives voted to give the states legal jurisdiction over contraception availability, instead of a national mandate. My mother was 31 when she finally was prescribed “the Pill”, after having 8 children and 2 miscarriages. Taking away our rights is a serious strategy to return women to their submissive status that I remember from my childhood. I will fight with all my might to defend the rights women deserve to achieve gender equality. Please vote for the Reproductive Freedom for All Constitutional Amendment on your November 8 ballot.

Public Education

We taxpayers invest in public education (birth-death) because we understand the importance of an educated society. When all our children and adults are included in opportunities of learning to their potential, the results are a stronger, smarter workforce and electorate.

When I began public school teaching (1975), Michigan was ranked in the top 10 of public schools in the U.S. This year, Michigan comes in at 40th, according to a recent ranking 2022 KIDS COUNT Data Book - The Annie E. Casey Foundation (aecf.org). This is unacceptable and must be reversed by addressing root causes, including child-well being concerns. For years, the Michigan legislatures and governors have defunded public education, intentionally to weaken public education (I believe) for their own self-serving reasons. Thankfully, we have made some progress with the Legislature approving Governor Whitmer’s education budget for 2023.

I worked with public school teachers in low-wealth communities for twelve years. I was privileged to work with excellent teachers who put everything they had (including much of their own money) into their classrooms. I witnessed that the children who needed the most from public schools, often got the least. The teachers and students helped me to see that a critical barrier to learning is living in poverty; not having basic needs met.

ALL Michigan’s children and young adults must be at the top of our priorities for our communities and state to thrive. I support whatever it takes to reach top 10 status once again.

Early Childhood Education

I have a BS from MSU in child development, so I understand the importance of high-quality early childhood education for all children and their families. The accessibility for all children impacts all of society. I worked for the HighScope Educational Research Foundation who conducted the first longitudinal study of the effects of high-quality early childhood education (including a parent education component), the Perry Preschool Project. Since then, another study has concluded similarly…investing in high-quality early childhood education results in a substantial rate of return, not only in dollars, but in quality of life-including the next generation and to society.

The Effects of Two Influential Early Childhood Interventions on Health and Healthy Behaviour - PMC (nih.gov)
Perry and Abecedarian Projects FAQ - Center for the Economics of Human Development (uchicago.edu)

Prenatal and the first five years of life are critical to a person’s healthy well-being in their adult life. When children are nurtured, have consistent caregivers concerned with developing the “whole child” (physically, emotionally, and intellectually), we can expect healthier, more self-reliant, and greater contributors to society.

When our oldest daughter, Tiffany, was an infant, we couldn’t find great childcare. I decided to leave my teaching job and opened an early childhood center. There was high demand, and it grew from serving 20 children to 150 within nine years. My staff and I also worked with two local businesses to open their own on-site centers for their employees and local communities. Our centers stood for exceptional quality with parents as our partners. We quickly realized that most families could not afford the high cost of teachers with degrees, small group sizes, safe and inviting environments, extended and flexible hours to match parents’ needs, and healthy fresh food. And yet, every child deserves this great start to a successful life.

The “free market” is unable to solve this critical need for high quality early childhood education so parents can work or go to school. Our economy and democratic society are the beneficiaries of our investment. I will support high quality early childhood education for ALL children.

Our Environment

How grateful we are to live in a beautiful place! Our District 104 boasts pristine lakes, rivers, and Lake Michigan coastline in Benzie and Manistee counties. We enjoy rich agricultural land and forests for our food, our recreation, and our spiritual peace.

Clean Water - Michiganders in District 104 tell me that clean water and protected watersheds top their list of legislative priorities. Access to clean, safe drinking water is a human right that we must value and protect. Michigan is entrusted to defend and preserve the Great Lakes, accounting for about 20% of the world’s fresh water. Lake Michigan is our precious gem and important to our economy, tourism, recreation, and way of life. I will put clean water policy and environmental stewardship front and center as your representative.

Forests and Farmland – National Geographic named the northern part of the lower Michigan peninsula the most beautiful place to see changing colors in the fall. Those trees are awe inspiring and draw down green house gases from the atmosphere, helping us address our changing climate. I will work to protect, maintain, and increase our forests and help foresters prosper. We are fortunate to live in a temperate climate with rich farmland and diverse agriculture. We value our farmers; they are active conservationists, effected daily by the weather. As your representative I will work tirelessly to preserve agricultural land and farms, help farmers maintain stable, living incomes, and safeguard farms for generations. Investments in soil health translate directly to investments in nutritious food for our families, draught and flood resistant soil that requires less synthetic fertilizer and pesticides which is good for us and our lakes and streams. We must plan now, to ensure food security for our future.

Climate Change – Protecting our environment and providing a livable planet for our children and grandchildren is our commitment and responsibility to the next generations. It’s also a tremendous economic opportunity. Investments in clean, renewable energy mean good paying jobs for Michigan families. Michigan will lead in production of electric vehicles, batteries, charging stations, and innovation increasing our prosperity and moving us toward carbon neutrality by 2050. As your representative I will support and work to implement the Healthy Michigan Climate Plan developed by Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. These are exciting times to be Michiganders!