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Michigan Representative District 102

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

    Douglas Gabert
    (Dem)

  • Michele Hoitenga
    (Rep)

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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 Reed City
Age 62
Family Married (Jodi) One adult son (Martin)
Education Bachelor's and Master's degrees in history from Central Michigan University
Vehicles owned 2004 Ford Escape 2004 Ford Focus 2009 Chevy Cobalt
Professional Experience Most of my career was with the state Department of Human Services as a caseworker.
Political Experience None, other than being active in the Osceola County Democratic Party for years
Race/ethnicity Caucasian
Twitter http://none
YouTube http://none
Incumbent? false
The state constitution protects as contracts “accrued financial benefits” of public pensions. But as shown in the Detroit bankruptcy federal bankruptcy courts can break contracts, including pensions. The state should guarantee accrued benefits of vested employees by paying the difference between what the municipality or school district threatened with insolvency can pay and what obligations have accrued. In turn, the municipality should be able to show whether the pension plan is sustainable for future retirees and if not be required to devise a plan that is. I do not support mandating transitions to defined contribution plans.
There is a difference between how the state has been funding municipalities and how it should have been funding them by law. From the Engler administration through the Granholm years and into the Snyder administration the state has used money from sales tax collections intended for revenue sharing to patch up the state budget. According to the Michigan Municipal League between 2003 and 2013 municipalities lost 6.2 billion in revenue sharing diverted to the state's budget. This could have gone far in ensuring safety and service delivery and could have averted some of the cities' financial emergencies. I support prohibiting the use of revenue sharing funds to balance the state budget.
Only 19 states provide for some form of state intervention when cities, counties, or school districts are in a financial emergency, based when bills can no longer be paid. I agree that states should intervene in order that basic services continue to be provided and obligations met. If necessary, intervention should include financial assistance in the form of grants or loans. I am not opposed to the use of emergency managers in itself but there have been many problems and some managers have done more harm than not or have been entirely ineffective. The emergency managers need to include members of the elected government and community in decision making and to operate with more transparency.
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The administration dismissed complaints from Flint residents, responded too slowly when lead was found in the water, and refused to take responsibility for too long. The overall culture of bottom line governance contributed to the administration's myopia. The crisis was set in motion by a decision of an emergency manager to change the city's water source from Detroit to the Flint River. Changes to the emergency manager law to require more local involvement, more transparency, and an ombudsman to investigate complaints against emergency managers could help prevent future Flints
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EPA head Gina McCarthy once said that the EPA's mistake in its handling of the crisis was that it trusted the state for too long, but that in itself is no small mistake, and nor was it the only mistake as the EPA ignored concerns from one its own in February 2015. Michigan's regional EPA office is in Chicago and covers six states. Changes need to come at the federal level for more funding for the EPA so that its officials are not spread so thin. Changes, again at the federal level, should be made to the Lead and Copper Rule, which evidently is so complicated that it allows for a variety of interpretations.
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No. I support a graduated income tax. Although Michigan voters have decisively rejected this in the past, the last attempt was forty years ago. Given the increase in income inequality over the past forty years , the public may have become more receptive to the idea. In 2012 much of the tax burden shifted from businesses to individuals. With the loss of the child tax credit and reductions of the earned income and homestead tax credits, those with low to moderate incomes have been especially hard hit. I support increasing the corporate income tax rate or including more businesses in a business income tax to restore lost tax credits and increase revenue for infrastructure and education spending
Yes, unfortunately the commission did not make the final rescue package, which passed without any support from Detroit representatives or community leaders, all shut out from the process. Governor Snyder also supported the idea of a Detroit Educational Commission, but as has been his wont, caved. The commission could have reigned in the wild west proliferation of charters, closed those that did not perform, and sited schools with geography and existing schools in mind.
I would support limiting the authorization and oversight of charter schools to local school districts, intermediate school districts and local community colleges rather than colleges and universities as a way of ensuring that the charters live with rather than replace traditional public schools. I would also support legislation that compels financial transparency from the charter operators. The current system in which most charters are now run by for profit companies seems designed to skirt the constitutional prohibition of using public funds for private schools.
Yes.
No. The federal Restoration of Religious Freedom Act and its state versions that have cropped up are being used not as intended (the federal law intended to protect vulnerable religions and religious practices) but as a license to discriminate, especially against the LGBT community or, since Hobby Lobby, as a license for employers to impose their religious beliefs on employees, for instance by refusing to provide contraceptive coverage in its employee health insurance plans even though employees may have no religious objections to contraception and may want the service.
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Last year Michigan utilities met and slightly exceeded the 10% renewable energy mandate from the 2008 energy law. Electricity from renewable sources in aggregate now costs less than electricity from gas or coal fired power plants. And the cost of renewable energy continues to drop. I support increasing the mandate as we need to push the transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources for the health of the public and of the environment.
The U.S. Incarceration rate is the highest in the world. Although Michigan's is lower than the national average and it has been declining in recent years, we still have proportionally more prisoners than Russia or Iran, and we are one of only eleven states spending more on corrections than higher education. So, yes we incarcerate too many. We can reduce the prison population by a presumptive parole policy, an idea already proposed in the legislature and supported by the governor, by releasing geriatric prisoners to halfway houses or nursing homes, and by using substance abuse treatment centers and mental health services over prison when feasible.
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