Archived Story

Seven seek governor

Published 8:43pm Thursday, July 29, 2010

By JESSICA SIEFF

Dowagiac Daily News

One race many will be watching closely in Tuesday’s primary is that for the office of governor as Jennifer Granholm nears the end of her second term.

Seven candidates are pushing for a nomination on their respective party’s ticket — five Republicans and two Democrats. They bring with them a wide range of experience from the current state’s Attorney General to a former state senator and consumer advocate.

Virg Bernero, Democrat

Bernero is taking his vision for Michigan from the state’s capital to its highest office.

Bernero has served as Lansing’s mayor for five years. According to his campaign site, Bernero’s focus has been on creating new jobs and developing “job-creating investments” which “leveraged more than a half-billion dollars in new investment that will retain and create more than 6,000 jobs.”

According to information gathered by Project Vote Smart, Bernero graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Adrian College and served as executive director for the Michigan Association for Children with Emotional Disorders from 1995 to 1999.

He served as state senator from 2002-2006 and a state representative from 2000 to 2002.

On his Web site, Bernero had the following to say on key issues facing Michigan’s future:

Education: “Our current state leadership has failed us on the issue of education. Current lawmakers say they support fully funding education, yet they have done nothing to support those claims.”

Economy and jobs: “The wealthy and the well-connected, the banks, the insurance companies and Wall Street have been working the system to line their pockets at the expense of working people — and it has to stop.”

Energy: “Growing Michigan means sustaining an energy future that can support our great state.”

Health care: The candidate for governor is said to be an outspoken proponent of the health care legislation recently passed during the Obama administration. Among his actions regarding this field he includes: “Creating the groundbreaking Ingham Health Plan, a countywide health insurance program that provides basic health care coverage for people without health insurance and creating the Otto Community Health Clinic, which serves many low-income parents, children and residents in the community.”

Michael J. Bouchard, Republican

Former state Sen. Mike Bouchard graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

According to Project Vote Smart, his political experience includes Senate assistant majority leader and state senator for District 13 from 1991 to 1999 after being elected to the Senate in a special election.

He has supported organizations including the League of Women Voters, the Birmingham/Bloomfield Cultural Council and the Michigan Municipal League.

Jobs: According to Bouchard’s campaign Web site, his vision for creating jobs in Michigan includes, “With the help and support of economic experts, he will develop legislation to make Michigan a Right to Work state. If efforts in the legislature fail, then Mike will propose a constitutional amendment and will put the issue on the ballot.”

Health care: He “…is against nationalized health care and larger, more intrusive government. Mike believes unfunded mandates mean major problems for us as a state. The Democrats’ health plan alone means an estimated $700 million unfunded mandate to Michigan taxpayers when our state already is facing a $1.7 billion deficit. That’s money that could have been spent on roads, education and local police and firefighters.”

Crime: “…when in the Michigan legislature, Bouchard created the Michigan sex offender registry to protect women and children from violent predators in our communities, requiring convicted sex offenders to register with local law enforcement and allowing this information to be accessible to the public.”

Taxes: “…government can’t tax or spend its way to prosperity. The tax burden on Michigan’s working families is already far too high and government spending is out of control.”

Education: Bouchard claims he “will find ways to squeeze money out of our current school budgets to better deliver necessary services and focus our dollars on the classroom where they belong.”

Michael Cox, Republican

The state’’s current attorney general is running with an office record that is open for the public to see. His Web page for the state boasts, “Since taking office, Mike Cox has recovered a record $3.2 billion for Michigan consumers and saved Michigan taxpayers more than $1.7 billion in defense of state lawsuits.”

Cox attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and received his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School, according to Project Vote Smart. He served as director of Wayne County Prosecutor’s Homicide Unit from 2000 to 2002.

Having served under Granholm, Cox said on his Web site he’s running to succeed her in an effort to “turn Michigan around.”

Touching on the state position as having “the highest unemployment rate in the nation,” Cox believes “our tax structure is hurting our home-grown small businesses and keeping new businesses away.”

With an extensive plan for Michigan should he win in November, Cox explains his stand and vision for several key issues:

Agriculture: “Both Michigan and Michigan’s economy have grown with a healthy agricultural tradition. We must preserve Michigan’s strong right-to-farm laws to protect and grow this important economic and cultural sector.”

Health care: Cox said he “will create tax incentives for businesses that provide Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to their employees as well as assist self-employed individuals in creating HSAs. Mike Cox will target incentives for those businesses that currently do not offer health insurance to their employees.”

Energy: “Because Michigan is a peninsula with relatively little oil or coal resources — compared to the rest of the Midwest — it must act smarter to insure a low-cost and reliable energy future. As governor, (Cox) will offer tax incentives and a positive regulatory environment for construction of clean coal and nuclear facilities.”

Andy Dillon, Democrat

State representative for Michigan’s 17th district, Dillon, who graduated from the University of Notre Dame, studied accounting and law, according to Project Vote Smart. He is currently president of Detroit Steel Co. Ltd. and in Lansing serves as Speaker of the House.

According to Dillon’s Web site, his plan for the state includes a focus on education, jobs, spending reform and a refocusing of government.

Education: Dillon plans to work “with our colleges and universities to make sure they are teaching our students the skills they will need to compete in the 21st century economy (as well as) restoring Michigan’s Promise Scholarship by making them forgivable loans if the recipients stay and work in Michigan after graduation,” his Web site says.

Spending reform: “It’s time to substantially overhaul and reform our state’s business practices. We can save hundreds of millions of dollars and eliminate our structural deficits with common sense reforms, including pooling all public employee health care plans to save up to a billion dollars in state taxes.”

Refocusing government: “Assemble a review team of retired state employees and outside management experts to conduct a top-to-bottom evaluation of state government and suggest immediate steps we can take to make Michigan more efficient and responsive to its citizens and businesses alike.”

Tom George, Republican

Michigan’s state senator for the 20th District stopped in Niles last year after he announced he would seek the gubernatorial office and attended Cass County’s Lincoln Day Dinner.

A doctor who graduated from University of Michigan Medical School, George was voted into his current office in 2002.

He serves on several committees, as vice chair of the subcommittee on higher education, chair of the health policy committee and a member of the appropriations committee.

According to his Web site, George centers his plan for the state’s future on several initiatives including:

Reform state programs: “Just like GM and Chrysler were spending more on health care than on steel prior to their bankruptcies, health care spending has become the single biggest expense within the state’s budget. This explosion of health care spending has failed to make Michigan healthier and has diverted resources away from priorities such as public safety, education and infrastructure investment.”

Fixing the budget process: “fight for Michigan’s fair share of federal funding. Despite being at the epicenter of the nation’s economic recession, Michigan has been a donor state to the stimulus package. Our next governor needs to work with our federal legislators to get us a better deal when it comes to federal funding for roads, Medicaid and defense spending.”

Peter Hoekstra, Republican

Congressman for Michigan’s second district, Hoekstra focuses his platform around “JOBS” — jobs for Michigan, opportunity for Michigan, background to do the job and servant leadership.

Hoekstra graduated from the University of Michigan with a masters in business administration according to Project Vote Smart and has served in the House of Representatives since 1993.

Hoekstra is a ranking member on the permanent select committee on intelligence and a member on the education and labor committee and is a member of several caucuses and non-legislative committees.

Jobs: “First and foremost, we need jobs in Michigan,” Hoekstra says on his campaign’s Web site. “Michigan is a great state and can be a center of prosperity again.  My vision is a state that embraces economic growth.  We need to get the bureaucracy out of the way, streamline the government, cut costs and overhaul the tax code so Michigan attracts investment and cultivates growth.”

Servant leadership: “Michigan does not need a governor who will dictate policy with a 10-point or 92-point plan.”

Background: “I know what job creators need from government to be successful and how to get the reforms we need passed into law. The gridlock and budget gimmicks from Lansing are the product of poor leadership.”

Rick Snyder, Republican

Snyder’s plan to “reinvent” Michigan is 10 points that includes creating more and better jobs, reform the state’s tax system, fix Michigan’s broken government, reform the state’s education system and improve both its national and international image.

A graduate of the University of Michigan with multiple degrees, Snyder helped usher Gateway computers into Fortune 500 status, according to his campaign’s Web site, before becoming the president and chief operating officer of the company.

Snyder’s vision when it comes to the following issues is as follows:

Fixing broken government: “Value For Money budgeting accomplishes this. It’s an innovative approach to budgeting that begins by asking citizens how their tax dollars should be spent and setting tangible ways to measure the success of every state program.”

Reform Michigan’s education system: “Michigan’s reinvention and economic transformation can’t be accomplished without focusing on educating next generation of great minds. As governor, I will insure that Michigan’s children have the best possible preparation and education for life that enables them to compete and innovate in tomorrow’s global knowledge-based economy.”

Health care: “Michigan citizens should have access to the highest quality care available. As governor, I will manage rising costs by implementing innovative management strategies, expanding access through community-based solutions and promoting wellness programs that identify problems before they become chronic or more serious.”

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