It’s a three-way election race for the Dexter area’s seat on the Michigan House of Representatives, which has been held by Gretchen Driskell since she unseated popular and hardworking Republican incumbent Mark Ouimet in 2012.
Democrat Donna Laskinski, Republican Randy Clark, and Green Party Candidate Eric Borregard are the choices before the electorate in this November 8 election to represent a district that encompasses most of the smaller population clusters that lie outside of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti in Washtenaw County.
Driskell decided last year to challenge incumbent U.S. Congressman Tim Walberg for the privilege of representing Michigan’s seventh federal congressional district, despite having another term of two years before she was term limited out of the state House. Typically state level politicians aim for serving six years in the state house and eight in the state senate, based on current term limits for Michigan legislators, before either attempting to ascend to higher office or entering the private sector.
The candidates were issued an election snapshot Q&A recently and below are their detailed responses to WeLoveDexter.com’s readership.
Name: Donna Lasinski
Office sought: State Representative
Residence: Scio Township
Party Affiliation: Democratic
Education: BBA, University of Michigan, MBA, Northwestern University
Founder and President, ThinkStretch
Past offices held
Treasurer, Ann Arbor School Board
Family: Husband Mike, sons Alec, Nate, Jack
Name: Randy Clark
Office sought: Candidate for State House of Representative – District 52
Residence: Salem Township – Committee address P.O. Box 75313, Salem, Michigan 48175
Party Affiliation: Republican
Education: Attended University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University – Bachelor of Business Administration
President of C & C Land Development Co. – Developer of Residential subdivisions, home builder and commercial property manager
President of Countryside Professionals Inc. – Owner of 2 RE/MAX Real Estate Offices
Partner – Hamlin & Clark LLC – Independent Insurance Agency
Past offices held
Current elected office – Treasurer of the South Lyon Community Schools
Past municipal positions include, President of Housing Commission, President of DDA, Building Authority
Member, President of Economic Development Corporation
Family: Mary and I have a daughter 31, son 27 both have finished college and successfully started their careers.
Name: Eric Borregard
Office sought: State Representative 52nd District
Residence: Webster Twp.
Party Affiliation: Green
Education: Madonna University, Bachelors in Broadcasting and Cinema Arts
Oakland Community College, Associates Degree in Applied Science
President, EB Graphics LLC
President, Vice President and Studio Manager Artech Inc.
Sr. Technical Illustrator, at Williams International
Family: Son, James
Why are you running for office?
Lasinski: I am running for State Representative because Washtenaw has a long tradition of solving our problems locally, and I want to carry that tradition forward. We face serious issues: inequality of opportunity in education, crumbling roads and bridges, and threats to our environmental resources – but right now, the politicians in Lansing aren’t getting it done for us. I am running to be the strong Democratic leader and local voice we deserve, and will fight on your behalf to solve problems and ensure locally-driven decision making stays at the forefront here in Washtenaw.
Clark: As the treasurer of a public school system I have seen the impact that the decisions made in Lansing have on our local cities and school districts. I believe that the state should restructure the school funding formula making it more equitable between the highest funded districts and those at the base foundation level. I would also increase the per pupil funding across the state so districts can hire more math and reading recovery teachers to help the students meet mandated performance levels. I have observed firsthand the impact of unfunded mandates and how hard it is for districts at the base funding level to accomplish all the educational and reporting requirements that the Legislature places on districts.
The same funding problem is causing issues for our local cities and townships. The Legislature has reduced revenue sharing to the point local municipalities are unable to keep up with road maintenance and reconstruction. This degradation of our infrastructure will have a direct impact on our competitive position when companies evaluate potential new business locations. The lack of infrastructure improvements could have a very detrimental and direct impact on Michigan’s future employment levels.
We need to fund our infrastructure including the expansion of broadband and cell service to the outlying areas in our rural districts.
Borregard: I care deeply about the environment and our collective future.
Why should the voters in the jurisdiction you would be representing if elected want you to be their chosen candidate?
Lasinski: Education is the key to keeping our state competitive, and my adult life has been dedicated to improving education for every child in Michigan. This is one of the critical challenges we face in Washtenaw right now. I started ThinkStretch Summer Learning based on research showing that much of the achievement gap was summer learning loss. I believe that state support for innovative education programs, and leveling the playing field for every child and every school district in Michigan, can help our next generation compete in the 21st century economy.
Clark: I am a lifetime area resident, I live 3 miles down the road from where my Great Grandparents farmed in the 30’s 40’s and 50’s. I am a local candidate who understands both agricultural and suburban life styles. I know how important quality public education is to our area and understand what it is going to take to change our education system to bring it back to the top 10 in the nation instead of the bottom 10 where we sit today. My experience in construction and real estate will enable me to deal with our complex road and infrastructure issues. I have built water and sewer systems and installed miles of roadway. I know what it is like to live without high speed internet and know how important a service this is to every resident of the district. I also understand the issues related to the cost of auto and health insurance and can make the tough decisions to bring these outrageously everyday expenses under control.
I have been a small business owner for 35 years, I know how hard it is make payroll and cover the high taxes we have in Michigan. My life experience will figure directly into how I participate in making the laws that impact all residents and business owners in Michigan.
Borregard: I’m the least corruptible, I don’t take money from PACs and I don’t take money from the special interests or wealthy people. When I fight for something it is with the people and through peaceful agitation and protest. Not an army of lawyers, just there to sellout the homeowner, conservancy interest or local village government at the drop of a dime, then seen later laughing about it all the way to the bank. Greens protest on environment issues on an international scale now, in over 90 other counties, Democrats and Republican greenwash, lie and sell you out for money in this county, it’s as simple as that. That’s why these parties spend so much money buying media and rigging our electoral process in their favor, lie and cheating. Selling out voters is big business in this country and the Greens are the only grassroots organization doing something about that. We run slates of clean and environmentally minded candidates directly against the people that have been ripped you off so badly and for so long years.
What is the greatest challenge faced by the people that you’d represent in the office you’re seeking in the next few years?
Lasinski: In addition to improving educational opportunity and outcomes, adequately funding our infrastructure is another major priority of mine. Too often, politicians at all levels pursue shortcuts and quick fixes that cause us to fall farther behind in the long run. Michigan is well positioned to be a major player in the 21st century global economy, but it’s vital that we not fall behind by allowing our roads, bridges, clean water, access to broadband, and access to open space to be threatened by a lack of adequate state support. Rural broadband is a major issue to much of Washtenaw. In order for every family to have the same access to educational opportunity, there must be equal access to high speed internet in rural areas.
I also have firsthand experience in protecting our environment. When I found out toxic garbage was being burned in my backyard, I took action, organizing my neighbors to put a stop to this. Before I founded ThinkStretch, I worked side by side with large corporations to help them clean up their act, and put a stop to pollution before it started. I know firsthand the importance of protecting our vital natural resources to keep our children safe and our community beautiful. When I am elected, I will upend the status quo that threatens our families and children. No one should be allowed to drill or frack in our backyards without our knowledge and approval. That’s just common sense, and it will be my priority to stand up for you.
Clark: Michigan needs to grow our economy to help fund all the infrastructure and service improvements that our residents demand and deserve. We all want better schools, better roads, public utilities, internet access, more public pathways and parks. The problem is all of these basic services and quality of life amenities are expensive. Washtenaw County already has some of the highest taxes in the state, we have to be careful that our tax level does not drive out residents and preclude new business from looking at the area for potential growth locations.
This is going to be the tough question that each community will have to evaluate. In this process the residents of the county need to stay in touch with our representatives in Lansing so they understand how important it is we have a clean and safe drinking water. We need an infrastructure to handle the needs of our residents, a system to handle the distribution of these basics necessities and the roadways to allow efficient travel thru out the area.
Borregard: Stop the growth and over development in the area, stop the continued degradation of our environment by Democrats and Republicans and their corporate and special interests. Maintaining a sustainable quality life in the district is the biggest challenge, perhaps even reversing some of the negative effects on the environment; what the other two parties would call progress and job creation. Stopping, the ET Rover Pipeline in Lima and Dexter Twp., Heron Airport in Webster Twp., Mining in Chelsea, Oil drilling in Scio and dumping of radioactive fracking fluids. The environmental abatement of phosphorus, nitrogen, road salt & tar and the dioxin that are flowing into the Huron River watershed every day. Bring back the Huron River and taking it off the EPA impaired rivers list once and for all. Water is a human right but it won’t be if we keep selling water short to global corporate interests through the greenwashing and lies being made by our paid off State elected officials.
If you were talking to voter who was undecided despite hearing your replies to the above three questions, what would you say to that undecided voter to tip them over the edge into your camp?
Lasinski: If you are still an undecided voter at this point in the campaign, I hope you agree that we deserve a pragmatic leader with a record of real change. My record shows that I am that leader, and I am qualified to go to Lansing and get things done for you. I have decades of volunteer and professional experience working to improve opportunity and outcomes for families and children, and will put that experience to work on your behalf. I hope I can count on your vote by absentee ballot, or at the polls on November 8th.
Clark: I am a numbers guy who can’t stand to waste money, we need to watch what we spend and do the utmost to make sure that our state departments are providing the best amount of service possible for every tax dollar they receive. I feel that as a member of the majority party in Lansing I would have more committee assignments and have more pull with the state agencies to help resolve constituent problems. I am not a special interest candidate, at this point in my campaign I have not taken any special interest PAC money, I can go to Lansing with a clean slate owing nothing to the lobbies. I am the best candidate with the most varied experience to represent all of the residents of Western and Northern Washtenaw County!
Borregard: The planet is dying, good luck with that choice of yours.
This is one entry in multiple planned posts covering a number of Dexter area elections that will be published throughout this week and into next week as we approach the November 8 election date.
Randy Clark’s campaign is a paid advertiser on WeLoveDexter.com until after the November 8 election date.