Voter’s Guide: DENNIS B. SMITH (D)

State Rep. — District 59

Civic involvement: Constantine Rotary (Past President and Paul Harris Award Winner), Chair of Constantine Church Association and member of Constantine Food Pantry Board, Constantine Soup Kitchen Board.

What will be your top priority if elected to office? My top priority will be to restore proper funding of Michigan’s public schools.  Michigan currently ranks between the mid-30s to mid-40s nationwide in the quality of our public education.  This need not be so.  The money to fund our public schools is available without raising taxes.  The legislature needs to make our children’s education a top priority.

Name three core values that define your political outlook:

Integrity:  I believe any person, especially any public person seeking to represent others, must be a person of integrity.  It is crucial to mean what you say in any context and say what you mean.

Maturity: Maturity isn’t always a result of greater age, but wisdom is always a result of greater maturity.  Maturity is, in part, the ability to listen without pre-judging and act with compassion.

Compassion: I firmly believe that when individuals are committed to the well-being of one another, the whole community thrives. 

What makes you the best candidate for the job?

I believe that I possess the qualities of character listed about, especially compassion.  For me compassion in the public sphere is simply a public posture that recognizes that when we act in the best interests of one another, we all thrive.  Quality public education, accessible and affordable heath care for every citizen, protecting the rights of every citizen, livable wages, and protecting the environment are all goals driven by compassion and lived out in public service.

What professional/political accomplishments are you most proud of in your life? I am most proud of my vocation of pastoral ministry and the opportunities it has afforded me to work with and on behalf of real people in a variety of life circumstances.  I have ministered with presidents of multi-national corporations and people who struggle to pay rent and childcare on a single paycheck. I am also proud ofg my years as a public-school teacher.  Teaching has always been a love of mine.

How do you think you can impact southwest Michigan’s future? I hope to impact Michigan’s future by helping to reset the priorities of Michigan’s legislature.  Advocating for and sponsoring legislation that properly funds our public schools, advocating for and sponsoring legislation that restores Michigan’s “prevailing wage” law, advocating for and sponsoring legislation that significantly increases the green energy mix in Michigan, advocating for and sponsoring legislation that protects human rights and the right of workers to organize and collectively bargain — all are ways I hope to impact Michigan’s future.

What is the biggest challenge our region faces? How would you address it? The single biggest challenge that I see increasing the number of qualified career technical people in our region.  We suffer a critical shortage of carpenters, electricians, welders and plumbers, people whose skills are sorely needed and whose incomes will boost the average household income in or region.

Other comments: Thanks for the opportunity to get this profile on record.

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