Candidates Randy Brink, Cindy Gamrat, Steve Schulz, Mary Whiteford on stage before the forum began.

GOP candidates speak at Saugatuck forum

Ryan Shek, Intern


The Holland League of Women Voters hosted a primary election candidate forum July 15 for the four candidates vying for the Republican nomination to the 80th District State House seat.

Around 40 people attended the forum, and candidates Randy Brink, Cindy Gamrat, Steve Schulz and Mary Whiteford addressed issues ranging from local fracking to Michigan’s business climate and even prison reform.

To tide you over until our full story in next week's paper, here are thoughts from each candidate expressed that evening.

Saugatuck farmer Randy Brink: “I’m against fracking; you always hear about all the good it does but not about all the bad. Michigan is one-of-a-kind state—it’s a winter water wonderland—I don’t want to see it polluted. I don’t want people tearing into the property just to get some gas out. If we’re worried about energy then let’s just get the pipeline in from Canada.”

Plainwell nurse Cindy Gamrat: “When speaking to my father (who grew up in Germany and owned a tool and die shop in the United States), he said he wouldn’t be able to start up his business now. Michigan is known as one of most regulated states in the nation and when businesses decide where they’re going to go (they have) a tough time coming here. Business owners are barely hanging on because of taxes—I’d do whatever I can to support the private sector economy and businesses.”

Casco Township nurse Mary Whiteford: “I don’t believe in zero tolerance (for criminals)—I have a hard time understanding that; every trial is different. (No one stops to think) about the inmates who go into prison and then their families are left with nothing. Give people more of a break. I have hard time with minors (being tried as adults); everything needs to be taken on a case by case basis.”

Allegan Township Supervisor Steve Schulz: “I want to see Allegan County and the State of Michigan reach its full potential, and roads are top of the list. The longer we wait, more cost there’ll be. (I’d try to) facilitate a long-term solution to improving highways, bridges and infrastructure, which will attract businesses. Good transportation will bring jobs, and I want to make Michigan a business-friendly atmosphere.”


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