26th District Michigan Senate: Alway, Haas, Lewis, Nesbitt

Nov. 6, 2018, general election

Four candidates are seeking election to the open 26th District Michigan Senate seat. Republican Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker could not seek re-election due to terms limits for the four-year term.

The district includes all of Allegan and Van Buren counties, along with Gaines Township and the City of Kentwood in Kent County.

Candidates were asked to provide a brief background about themselves as well as answer the same set of 11 questions.

 

Robert M. Alway

Green

Alway was an environmental quality analyst for the Michigan DEQ before retirement. He said the general public may recognize him as the man on the yellow and black tricycle. Born in Kalamazoo, he has lived in Otsego for 22 years where he serves on the City of Otsego planning commission, for 11 years, and volunteers on the Otsego Main Street Economic Vitality committee. He has a master’s degree in chemistry from WMU and a bachelor’s in General Studies from the University of Michigan.

 

1. Do you believe the state needs to commit more funds toward road improvement? If so, what method to do that would you support?

Stable road funding has been provided by fuel taxes. In the near future, funding should come from that source. As electric vehicles become widespread, we will need different funding sources.

 

2. Be it funding or policy, what is your major goal when addressing public education?

Beyond solid support for basic education, I support including music and arts for their value in brain and social development. State education funding should only be used for public education.

 

3. What will you pursue to protect places like public schools from mass shootings?

I support teacher training and resources to recognize and treat troubled teens before shootings occur.

 

4. What is your primary goal when addressing the state budget?

Continuing stable government functions. Ensuring fair and appropriate taxation.

 

5. What are your legislative priorities if elected?

I support legislation to encourage renewable energy

 

6. What is your stance on abortion?

I am Pro-choice.

 

7. List any organizations that have endorsed your campaign.

Green Party of Michigan

 

8. What strategies do you plan to pursue to reduce the price of Michigan’s auto insurance rates?

I will work with police agencies, MDOT, insurers, and drivers to determine the causes of accidents and loss. I will work to enact policies to remediate the problems.

 

9. Do you have any goals to help make health insurance more available and/or affordable?

I will support Medicaid expansion.

 

10. What can be done to bring high-speed internet service to more rural areas such as Allegan County?

I support using Michigan’s agricultural extension service to manage subsidies for extended internet connection to rural areas.

 

11. What qualifies you to represent the 26th District?

My record of public service includes current membership on the Planning Commission and Main Street Economic Vitality committee of Otsego City. I was Chapter 8 Governor of SEIU 517m for 15 years. As an environmental quality analyst, I participated in writing Michigan environmental law and rules.

 

 

Erwin Haas

Libertarian

Haas practiced medicine in west Michigan since 1975 and retired last year. His wife, Dr. Kris Kitzsteiner, is a retired internist. They have three successful adult children and “soon” six grandchildren. They have lived in Kentwood for 14 years where Erwin served on the city commission from 2013-2017. He was on the board of the Grand Valley Coop Credit Union for eight years and was a flight surgeon in Vietnam. He earned an MBA from Grand Valley. He has written for Lou Rockwell, American Thinker, and Medical Economics. He has a dozen publications in Juried medical journals and had a cable access TV show in Kent County for nearly a decade.

 

1. Do you believe the state needs to commit more funds toward road improvement? If so, what method to do that would you support?

State funding is probably adequate for necessary repairs in western Michigan. Any increased extraction goes to cities with less responsible governances. We should fund our own repairs.

 

2. Be it funding or policy, what is your major goal when addressing public education?

Public education has hardening of the arteries—bloated with officials. Recall that Katrina wiped out the New Orleans Public School. They were privatized, scores shot up and costs remained stable. Creative destruction.

 

3. What will you pursue to protect places like public schools from mass shootings?

Teachers need to protect themselves and their charges; I doubt “resource officer” effectiveness but trust teachers, especially female who, when armed—and naturally better shots—will protect themselves.

 

4. What is your primary goal when addressing the state budget?

Make cuts to corporate welfare—MEDC. I studied the effects of Pure Michigan 2005-15 on hospitality employment. Michigan’s increase was the lowest of the seven Midwest states. Pure failure.

 

5. What are your legislative priorities if elected?

Cut corporate welfare, make marijuana legal and push to allow our farmers to grow hemp which has huge applications in industry. Work to promote small, local schools so that parents know what their kids learn.

 

6. What is your stance on abortion?

I refuse to pay for someone’s abortion; it’s murder by Planned Parenthood. More generalized prohibition of abortions is impossible; abortions are now done medically, the drugs easily available on the web.

 

7. List any organizations that have endorsed your campaign.

The Libertarian Party treasures me greatly. Otherwise, it seems that I infuriate the perpetually indignant and so am spared maudlin mention.

 

8. What strategies do you plan to pursue to reduce the price of Michigan’s auto insurance rates?

The medical coverage is known as the “orthopedist’s early retirement act of 1973.” This needs to be curtailed. Also we need more low-cost choices in policies offered.

 

9. Do you have any goals to help make health insurance more available and/or affordable?

The Certificate of Need law adds about 10 percent—see my article in Michigan Medicine, 1988—to medical costs. Abolish it. Sponsor a website for getting Canadian medications on the internet.

 

10. What can be done to bring high-speed internet service to more rural areas such as Allegan County?

The technology changes all the time; in Kentwood, towers are even now being erected for 5G service. What “High Speed” do advocates want?

 

11. What qualifies you to represent the 26th District?

I’m trained in analyzing scientific studies. Our welfare state is based on badly flawed “junk” social sciences. I’ll question every one of the frauds who want money for their fantasies, expose the rot and save our taxpayers money and spare businesses from inane regulations. Make Michigan Great Again.

 

Garnet Lewis

Democrat

Garnet Lewis is the daughter of an Air Force veteran, was born in England, raised in Germany and grew up working on her family farm in Texas. She is a small-business owner and retired educator, living in Saugatuck, where she serves as Chair of the City of Saugatuck Planning Commission and on its Board of Review. At Northern Michigan University she served an eight-year term on the Board of Trustees (2009-2016), chair from 2013 to 2014. Lewis studied Animal Science/Animal Husbandry at Truman State University, Education at Northern Michigan University and the University of North Texas, where she received a Ph.D. in 1992.

 

1. Do you believe the state needs to commit more funds toward road improvement? If so, what method to do that would you support?

Yes. Michigan needs to commit $4 billion each year, for decades for roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, and communications infrastructure. Fully fund the State Infrastructure Bank.

 

2. Be it funding or policy, what is your major goal when addressing public education?

Michigan must adequately fund its public schools, and expand pre-school/early childhood programs. Michigan must also fund multiple post-secondary educational opportunities, including community colleges, vocational/technical schools, trade schools, and apprenticeships.

 

3. What will you pursue to protect places like public schools from mass shootings?

Prevention is the answer. Michigan must lead the way and enact common-sense gun control, to include: background checks, a ban on assault weapons, and a ban on high-capacity magazines.

 

4. What is your primary goal when addressing the state budget?

My focus will be to address public school funding, road and infrastructure funding, and the provision of clean drinking water.

 

5. What are your legislative priorities if elected?

Fully fund public education; protect our waterways and lakes and ensure safe drinking water; Medicaid expansion and Medicare for all; and internet access.

 

6. What is your stance on abortion?

Abortion should be rare, safe and legal. We should take a proactive approach and ensure that access is available to sexual education and health care. Long-term sexual health begins with education.

 

7. List any organizations that have endorsed your campaign:

Moms Demand Action; Michigan Association for Justice; Sierra Club of Michigan; The Michigan Education Association; United Food & Commercial Workers; United Auto Workers; Southwest Michigan Building Trades.

 

8. What strategies do you plan to pursue to reduce the price of Michigan’s auto insurance rates?

The Michigan Insurance Commission has no method to determine whether policy premiums have been appropriately reduced for auto insurers. We must (1) control costs, (2) reduce payments, and (3) reform the system.

 

9. Do you have any goals to help make health insurance more available and/or affordable?

Goals would include Medicaid expansion and research the possibility of moving to a single-payer plan for all Michigan residents.

 

10. What can be done to bring high-speed internet service to more rural areas such as Allegan County?

Fully fund the Infrastructure Bank. This bank would loan, match, grant and leverage federal, state and municipal dollars for infrastructure funding, including the provision of internet access.

 

11. What qualifies you to represent the 26th District?

I believe that (1) my 28-plus years in University Administration, and (2) experience as a small business owner and investor in Michigan’s economy will provide the leadership, communication and listening skills needed for this position. The voters deserve a Senator who will represent them, no matter where they live. My education and small-business experience, community service, and tireless work ethic qualify me to drive meaningful legislation in the Michigan State Senate.

 

 

Aric Nesbitt

Republican

Nesbitt grew up on his family’s sixth-generation dairy farm in Van Buren County, graduated from Hillsdale College, and earned a Master’s in International Business. Aric and his wife Trisha live just down the road from the family farm. Aric served three terms in the State House and as the youngest member of Governor Snyder’s cabinet. Aric has a record of results for West Michigan, producing a stronger economy, more jobs, and less government debt.

 

1. Do you believe the state needs to commit more funds toward road improvement? If so, what method to do that would you support?

Yes. I fought to dedicated $1 billion more to fix our roads without raising taxes, send all gas tax money to repair our roads and implement strong warranties.

 

2. Be it funding or policy, what is your major goal when addressing public education?

My focus is empowering parents and students with more options, including strong k-12, career and technical training, dual enrollment for high school and community colleges, and affordable college opportunities.

 

3. What will you pursue to protect places like public schools from mass shootings?

Schools and law enforcement working together to develop best practices is key, along with mental health care. We should not deprive law-abiding citizens of their Second Amendment Rights.

 

4. What is your primary goal when addressing the state budget?

Balancing the budget, paying down debt, and reducing the tax burden, while supporting our priorities, which includes roads, education and law enforcement.

 

5. What are your legislative priorities if elected?

Lowering auto insurance rates by repealing costly government mandates and expanding consumer choices, fixing our roads without raising taxes, work requirements for welfare and banning sanctuary cities.

 

6. What is your stance on abortion?

I am 100-percent pro-life, believing life is sacred and a gift from God. I’m honored to be endorsed by Right to Life and Citizens for Traditional Values for my proven pro-life record.

 

7. List any organizations that have endorsed your campaign.

Right to Life of Michigan PAC, Michigan Farm Bureau, Fraternal Order of Police, Citizens for Traditional Values, Small Business Association of Michigan, Michigan Association of Police Organizations, Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan

 

8. What strategies do you plan to pursue to reduce the price of Michigan’s auto insurance rates?

Expanding options for consumers, repealing costly government regulations, cracking down on fraud, and stopping overcharging for care and lawsuits are all policies I have supported and will fight to implement.

 

9. Do you have any goals to help make health insurance more available and/or affordable?

Providing small businesses more opportunities to purchase affordable health coverage for their employees, expanding health savings accounts and supporting patient-centered approaches improve accessibility and affordability.

 

10. What can be done to bring high-speed internet service to more rural areas such as Allegan County?

Living in a rural area, I know the importance of access to high-speed internet. I have a record of fighting to provide incentives to broadband infrastructure investments in rural areas.

 

11. What qualifies you to represent the 26th District?

Growing up on our family farm and graduating from Hillsdale College, I learned about faith, hard work and the principles that make America strong. I helped achieve results for West Michigan in the State House, specifically encouraging job creation, reducing government debt, and supporting education and better roads.

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