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Michigan Representative District 61

Choose one candidate. Representatives in the Michigan State House serve two-year terms and receive an annual salary of $71,685.

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  • Candidate picture

    John Fisher
    (Dem)

  • Brandt Iden
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Ryan Winfield
    (L)

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Biographical Information

How should the state assist other municipalities and school districts whose solvency is threatened by its financial obligations to current and future retirees?

Is the way the state funds our cities adequate to ensure safety and service delivery? If not, what changes would you support to our municipal finance model?

When cities are struggling, what is the appropriate way for the state to intervene? Should state intervention – through the emergency manager law or some other avenue – come with dollars attached? Why or why not?

How would you rate the state’s response to the Flint water crisis?

Explain your answer and what you would do, if anything, to improve the state’s response.

How would you rate the federal government’s response to the Flint water crisis?

Explain your answer and what you would do, if anything, to improve the federal government’s response.

Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor? If so, explain.

Have you ever filed for personal bankruptcy? If so, explain.

Do you believe Michigan’s tax system is generally fair? If not, what changes do you support?

Would you support the establishment of a Detroit Educational Commission that would have authority to site, open and close traditional public and charter schools?

What changes, if any, would you support in the way Michigan authorizes and regulates charter schools?

Do you favor amending the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity?

Do you support state-level laws modeled on the federal Restoration of Religious Freedom Act?

Have you signed any public pledge to support or oppose any organization’s public policy objectives, such as outlawing abortion or barring any increase in taxes?

Do you support legislation to minimize or eliminate the influence of political parties on drawing lines for legislative districts?

Do you support decriminalization of recreational marijuana?

Do you support and will you appear at campaign events with your party’s presidential nominee?

Do you support the renewal and/or expansion of renewable energy mandates for Michigan energy producers?

Do we incarcerate too many people in Michigan? What would you change in the criminal justice system?

City of residence Portage
Age 65
Family Corrine, spouse, Children: Reid (Mellisa) Fonger, Caleb (Amy) Fisher, Judson (Nicki)Fonger, Jennie Fisher, Joshua Fisher,
Education Portage Central High School, 1968 Western Michigan University: BS Aviation Engineering Technology, 1972 Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary: MDiv, 1977
Vehicles owned 2006 Ford Freestyle 2015 Ford Matrix
Professional Experience United Methodist Ordained Elder 1978 - presant
Political Experience School Improvement Committee, Comstock Reproductive Science Committee, South Haven, North Muskegon, Comstock
Race/ethnicity White
Campaign Website http://votejohnfisher.com
Incumbent? false
It would be a big help if the State would drop the MPSERS cap back to 0%. When the legislature raised that cap to 20.96% in 2012, it put local public school districts at a major disadvantage, particularly compared to new Charter schools, and encouraged the public schools to “privatize” more of their workforce. The state should also repay the money it “borrowed” from the school employees retirement fund.
The state should fully fund its statutory revenue sharing; and find ways to allow municipalities to raise money when property tax revenues do not keep up with inflation and the needs of our cities.
The State should offer resources; intellectual, financial and fiscal, early in the process, before the problems get as dire as they have in many of our cities. Yes, the emergency manager law should come with dollars. The current emergency manager system, by focusing only on reducing costs and expenses for cities has done much harm to the life and services available to citizens. If we are going to have emergency managers, we must give them sufficient funds to look at improving the quality of life in our cities as well as improving the financial health of the cities.
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There are a host of bills in the house right now, HB 5459-5462, which deal with how we test and deal with water quality issues, all of which would improve our response. We must examine how the continuous attacks on the MDEQ encouraged the misreporting of the water quality.
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They could provide adequate funding for the needed investment in the water infrastructure and make sure we have trustworthy water quality testing.
no
no
The tax system is much less fair since Governor Snyder and the republican legislature shifted a significant portion of the tax burden from businesses and onto lower to middle income residents. Furthermore, those households earning between $21,000 - $100,000 pay a significantly higher percentage of their income in total taxes than those earning above $430,000. We can do a much better job of establishing a tax code that balances this more equitably.
Some form of oversight should be provided for, so that public schools in Detroit have a rational bases for location and offerings.
The way Charter schools are authorized and receive state payments must have more public oversight and transparency. Changing the way per-pupil payments are calculated so that schools are compensated based upon the actual cost of each student, rather than a flat rate for every student, would do much to remove the pure profit motive for charter schools and the financial burden on public schools.
Absolutely. I have seen far too many people hurt and discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or identity. Our state and our communities are at their best when our people are able to most fully live out their lives freely and openly.
No, our religious institutions have the freedoms they need now and are not under any threat.
no
Yes, I think the survival of a thriving responsive civil government depends upon an impartial drawing of our legislative districts.
As we move toward more and more acceptance of Marijuana we will move toward decriminalization and thus have to find ways to prevent driving and operating motor vehicles when one is under undo influence.
Most likely
Yes, we have greatly increased our renewable energy production and need to do all we can to continue to grow this sector. Furthermore, we will need to drastically reduce the amount of fossil fuels we use, in order to pass on a good Earth to our children, our grand children and their children.
Yes we do. I helped start the Community Restorative Justice system in South Haven. It did much to stop the recidivism rate of offenders, and relieve the burden on our prison system. We need to have more such options available.
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City of residence Kalamazoo, MI
Age 36
Family Wife, Lyndsey and daughter, Harper.
Education Associates of Business Management - Kalamazoo Valley Community College
Vehicles owned 2011 Chevy Impala 2014 Ford Escape
Professional Experience Digital Strategist - MLive Media Group, Kalamazoo, MI Marketing Director - Reedy Corp, Kalamazoo, MI
Race/ethnicity White/Mexican
Campaign Website http://votewinfield.com
Incumbent? false
While I do support extending the selling of municipal bonds to help cover the costs of retirement plans, the greater issue is the archaic and inflexible MPSERS program for Michigan educators. School districts aren't cookie-cutter. Each school system should be making a collective decision on retirement planning with the teachers, board, and parents of the community, taking into account the financial landscape that the individual district is facing. If all else fails, the members of the local community, not the governor or state government, should come to a majority decision to request an emergency manager.
While I understand each municipality can vary greatly, I feel that local to Kalamazoo, our city is adequately funded to support public safety.
I believe that an emergency manager should be a worst-case solution to any problem. Generally, cities that require emergency managers end up being repeat offenders - see Benton Harbor, Hamtramck, Flint, etc. Those cities have been broken for decades and emergency managers have only been short-term fixes. Instead of bailing them out with influxes of money, the areas should benefit from special, geographically focused tax benefits to both corporations and residents, to allow for businesses to want to do business in the area, and bring residents along with them.
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I believe much of the problems came from trusting the word of both local, state and national government agents when choosing to make the switch of water sources, rather than relying on the private sector experts in the water industry. Eventually, the private contractors needed to be relied on anyway to clean up the mess. As a government, we need to realize that elected officials aren't always the most informed on very complex decisions, and it's OK to get our answers from outside of our government offices.
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The federal government (along with state government) was too slow to react. I feel that the election cycle was the only reason that Flint received national attention, and it was immediately leveraged as a campaign chip. However, local residents had been trying to get help for almost a year before the federal government got involved. While there may be debate on whether or not the federal government should have been involved at all, if they are to act, it needs to be quickly and decisively.
No.
No.
A major idea of the Libertarian party is that as a society, we are overtaxed, and with smaller government, these taxes could be alleviated. I'm an especially strong believer that small business owners face a disadvantage, even sometimes being double-taxed, by being taxed on their business revenue, and taxed again on their take-home salary. I also believe that as long as property taxes exist, you never truly own your home if the government can take it away from you for being late on your tax bill.
No.
Charter schools could be a very valuable piece of the educational puzzle in Michigan. From experience, I've seen much smaller student to teacher ratios and higher standardized testing results. Parents should have the freedom of choice to utilize these schools. However, I do believe that if charter schools receive any public funding, their financial reporting should be 100% transparent. They also receive a per-student allowance, part of which is meant for paying into the MPSERS plan, however charter school educators don't actually pay into that system, therefor, the student allowance should be reduced to account for that.
Yes, however I do not believe it should encompass religious ceremonies. While I am a firm believer in marriage, no matter one's sexual orientation, private businesses and churches should not be forced to perform any action that goes against their beliefs.
Not if they reflect how other states have recently adopted them, however as mentioned above, I do believe that in the case of religious ceremonies, private individuals, businesses and churches should have the freedom to adhere to their own religious beliefs without fear of sanctions.
I have not.
No I do not.
Yes. It would create additional revenue in our state.
Yes. I'm a firm believer that the Libertarian nominee, Gary Johnson, has the best political track record for balancing budgets and creating a successful government that serves the people.
No. Utility companies shouldn't be forced to change their business model by the government - they should be forced to change their business model due to competition. We live in a beautiful state, and our citizens and government need to embrace renewable energy and make it easier for those companies to work in Michigan. For example, Kalamazoo Valley Community College has a fantastic wind turbine technician program to train skilled labor in the industry. However, those graduates have to leave the state to find jobs. We need to bring those jobs to Michigan, and hopefully our current energy providers will embrace that.
Yes, we do incarcerate too many people in Michigan. One place to start, as mentioned above, is to decriminalize marijuana. Secondly, as a state we need to take a long, hard look at sentencing for victimless crime ("crime" which does not directly threaten the rights of another individual.)

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