As part of election coverage this year, WZZM 13 surveyed politicians running for elections in our viewing areas. This survey covers the candidates running for Representative in the State Legislature for the 73rd District.

Chris Afendoulis

Party: Republican

*Candidate did not respond to the survey.

Deb Havens

Party: Democratic

Why are you running for this position? I am running because after years of one party rule of all three branches of state government, I feel Michigan is definitely on the wrong track. Our state has become the poster child for scandalous indifference to public health and safety; our K-12 schools and higher education are starved for funding while charter schools continue to grow without state insistence on student academic improvement; poverty rates continue to climb – some 500,000 children live in poverty and that number is up from 2008; funding for our roads and infrastructure repair continues to be in crisis mode; our state has been rated at the bottom of all 50 for lack of transparency and answering to the needs of the public. My family has lived in this state through five generations except for my children, who had to leave to find work elsewhere. I feel deeply obligated to do what I can to restore Michigan’s once-shining example of leadership in conservation, education, health, and economic strength.

What measures do you support/propose to improve our education system for both students and for school districts? Funding is key. Changes in technology have forced the shutdown of companies, loss of jobs, and corresponding reduction in school funds that are based on numbers of students in attendance, while Michigan’s charter schools divert dollars away from school district systems. Instead, school districts within certain financially sound communities should return to their own millage systems. The state should concentrate on compensatory funding for those districts that have suffered significant economic losses by 1) consolidating district facilities and personnel, 2) offering purchasing systems based on large-scale economies, and 3) curtailing the relentless emphasis on expensive testing systems.

What policies do you support to increase jobs and help Michigan residents economically?
I support tax breaks to encourage venture capital investors, a critical way to encourage entrepreneurs to start and maintain businesses that attract young creatives as well as support the traditional skills and crafts for making “things” of all kinds that Michigan is known for. Right now, Michigan suffers from a very limited supply of venture capital. I support a fair and reasonable tax rate for all that will fund a healthy infrastructure, decent schools, and safe communities, all necessary and attractive to new companies, new jobs, new families as well as appropriately service our current residents. I support state and community incentives to attract and retain business here. Cutting incentives means we are less competitive with states that offer them. Michigan’s personal income tax rate, a flat 4.35%, is already one of the lowest in the nation and certainly should go no lower. I do not favor an increase in sales tax.

What are your top 3 priority issues and, if elected, what actions would you take regarding these issues?
My priorities for Michigan begin with restoring fair and balanced tax rates: all who live here and benefit from Michigan services must pay their fair share. Redressing the uneven tax burden on seniors, poor, and middle class will provide the necessary dollars to adequately fund our schools, maintain our roads, and assure that our state is managed to benefit all residents rather than a few corporate CEOs. My priorities include restoring state support for public schools and expanding free tuition to colleges; new job creation through state initiated infrastructure projects and venture capital investment; environmental protections for our Great Lakes and state resources; alternative energy development; all these steps into the future demand a fair and balanced tax structure to restore a safe, healthy, educated state - the Michigan that used to exist .

What actions or policies do you support regarding Michigan energy, and the preservation of our land and water?
1) Infrastructure repair, to avoid future system disasters like the Flint water crisis as well as potential catastrophe of a pipeline break under the Mackinac Bridge and in other fragile ecosystems. Mandated replacement of lead paint in older homes supported by state tax benefits and/or supplements.
2) Development of alternative renewable energy sources. Right now natural gas prices are comparatively low when compared to oil but prices have increased and likely will again. We need reliable wind, solar, water and geothermal energy sources to a stable state wide energy supply and finally decommission many old, coal-fired power plants.
3) Ban Fracking, which has led to hundreds of daily earthquakes, for example in Oklahoma and to a lesser extent in Pennsylvania, loss of insurance coverage for residents, and helplessness from governmental agencies to control/repair/reverse the ecological/economic damage that has been done to the land, fresh clean water supplies, and the people.
4) Protection of Great lakes Water supplies – which includes protection against invasive species like the Asian carp as well as controlling farm runoff to prevent toxic algae blooms on the Great Lakes.
More generally, I support efforts to protect forests, reduce government subsidies for mineral/oil extraction, the creation of green jobs that will encourage a sustainable manufacturing culture, stiffer regulations on factory farms to reduce pollution and encourage humane animal treatment, as well as the encouragement of students to study forestry, agriculture, and biotechnology programs dedicated to wise practices and climate change controls on a global scale.

Anything else you'd like voters to know:
A quick glance at the shoddy condition of schools in our largest city of Detroit as well as poor rural districts around the state and the public health legacy of disaster currently unfolding in Flint show the most extreme examples of poor safety and service delivered by the current legislature. Kent County is not immune from the crumbling roads that connect our communities, cutbacks in police, fire, education, social services and other public health services. All those losses confirm that municipal finance has been starved to avoid insisting that our wealthiest residents and corporations pay their fair share for the services they receive. We need to take off ideological blinders and restore the revenue streams the legislature cut right after Governor Snyder was elected to provide adequate revenue sharing with local governments and invest in our state rather than starve it.

Ronald L. Heeren

Party: Libertarian Party

Why are you running for this position? I was asked to run in support of Presidential Candidate Gov. Gary Johnson and Vice Presidential Candidate Gov. William Weld.

What measures do you support/propose to improve our education system for both students and for school districts? STEM Education and Career Guidance.

What policies do you support to increase jobs and help Michigan residents economically?
End Crony Capitalism that shuts out Competition and market choices.
What are your top 3 priority issues and, if elected, what actions would you take regarding these issues?
Supporting Criminal Justice reform through fully informed Juries that try both the law and the alleged crime. All crimes must have a true victim not a legal fiction like the State. The state can never be a victim of crime.
Reforming the Jury be ending pre-emptive challenges and insuring that Jurys are representative of the Precinct in which the alleged crime took place. Ending economic feudalism that favors special interests over true free enterprise. Never allow any powers of eminent domain to be perverted for the use of suppressing Free enterprise because it is state sponsored stealing.

What actions or policies do you support regarding Michigan energy, and the preservation of our land and water? Freedom and removing the ability of Corporate Entities from seizing property and ensuring the property rights of citizens allow them to supply their own energy through means at their disposal and removing franchise monopoly powers from Utility Companies by allowing Citizens the right to supply and sell their own power or use it in manner consistent with banking practices to balance returns into the power grid with equal withdrawals from that same grid.

Anything else you'd like voters to know: I support my Party's Presidential Candidate Gov. Gary Johnson for President along with his Vice Presidential Candidate Gov. William Weld who is the best Candidate for President. I will not support any public funds to allow abortions but support a system that defines the rights of the Child to travel a normal course of life as defined by science not by fictional spirit inhabitance or alleged mental capacity.