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Representatives in Congress, 6th Dist.

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State Representative, 60th, 61st & 63rd Districts

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State Ballot Proposals

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State House of Representatives
Two-Year Term — Vote for 1

1. Do you support or oppose each of the two state ballot proposals? Why? [100 words]

a. Legislative initiative to allow under state law the medical use of
b. Proposed constitutional amendment to permit with certain limitations stem cell research in Michigan.

2. What can be done to improve the effectiveness of the legislature? [100 words]

3. What legislation is needed to further a sustainable state energy policy? How will that legislation affect Michigan’s economic situation? [100 words]

60th District
Townships: Cooper, Kalamazoo [precincts 1, 10-14]. City: Kalamazoo.

Charles Ybema

Republican. Age 34. City of Kalamazoo resident. Full-time graduate student, WMU. B.B.A., finance, Grand Valley State U, 1997; M.A., applied economics, WMU, expected Dec. 2008. Previously in investment management, worked with individual, corporate and foundation/non-profit clients, 10 yrs. www.ybema60.com.

1. a) I do not have a problem with medical marijuana. I have never participated in nor do I condone recreational drug use, but I nonetheless believe that soft drugs such as marijuana should be legalized. In far too many instances possession laws start the cycle to economic hardship. Legislators need to recognize that the time cost of drug usage will better regulate usage. (b) I do not support embryonic stem cell research, I do support adult stem cell research. I do not support Proposal 2.

2. The agenda needs to be focused. The Michigan legislature has taken the position that it must provide oversight to far too many areas of citizen’s life—i.e., regulating the authorized monopolies, the enormous amount of government-owned land in Michigan, etc. We need to encourage private ownership of more of these resources which will reduce the size and scope of the legislature’s responsibilities. Markets, prices and informed consumers can provide their own oversight to many of these issues.

3. Alternative energy production needs to find its own way. I will support tax incentives for production, research and development. A better long-term solution is to allow consumers to opt for some percentage of energy from alternative sources. Recently passed energy mandates will require alternative production to increase by 10x by 2012, 25x by 2015 and 50x to get to Mr. Jones 20% goal. We must remember that alternative sources cost 2.5–3 times as much as traditional sources. My fear is that these mandates will lead to massive mal-investment and put Michigan further behind. We must remember the solar panel liquidation of 1980s.

Robert B. Jones 

Democrat. Kalamazoo City resident. Representative, Michigan State House, 60th District. Retired from working in business and management with 28.5 yrs at the Upjohn Co., now Pfizer. Business owner. City of Kalamazoo, Mayor, 4 terms. If re-elected I will carefully evaluate each issue and make the best public policy decision for all the citizens of Michigan. I will continue to be a proactive leader—facing, addressing and solving the problems of our state.

1. (a) I support the state allowing, under medical supervision, marijuana for patients where this use is an effective therapy. (b) I support the effort to allow controlled research utilizing stem cells.

2. The effectiveness of the Legislature could be improved by extending term limits from 6 to 10 years in the House and from 8 to 12 years in the Senate, with combined service therefore a maximum of 22 years.

3. We passed a comprehensive package which begins to address the complex issues of energy conservation, while maintaining a focus on job creation and overall quality of life.

61st District
Townships: Alamo, Kalamazoo [precincts 2-9, 15], Oshtemo, Prairie Ronde, Texas. Cities: Parchment, Portage

Larry DeShazor

Republican. Age 49. Portage resident. Team Manager, State Farm Insurance. B.S., U of New Orleans. Currently Portage City Councilmember. Chamber of Commerce Business and Community Development Committee. Portage: Economic Development Corporation; Planning Commission; Community Survey Committee; 2025 Visioning Project. Kalamazoo County: Convention & Visitors Bureau Board of Directors; Environmental Health Advisory Council. Leadership Kalamazoo, Advisory Board. Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association, pilot/member; Rotary International, member; Boost Michigan Kids Coalition, chair; attends Saint Catherine of Siena and Kalamazoo Valley Family churches. www.votedeshazor.com

1. (a) Oppose. FDA has stated that there is no health benefit to smoking marijuana. Instead, marijuana smoke contains hazardous chemicals and impurities. In addition, there is potential for abuse and criminal activity. Instead, patients can be treated with synthetic (and legal) marijuana . . .  (b) Oppose. Language in this proposed constitutional amendment is deceptive and does not allow for regulatory oversight of this industry. State legislature would not be able to pass any laws to protect consumer. Nor does this proposal protect State’s ban on human cloning. While it does not change current statutory law, it does open the door to future statutory changes . . . .

2. A part-time legislature would create a more effective government by reducing its size, eliminating lifetime retirement and health benefits, and reducing pay. A shorter work year will force the legislature to approve the budget by June, which improves stability in the budget process for schools and municipalities that rely on state funding. Lastly, Michigan should eliminate term limits, which force out experienced lawmakers who possess the expertise, a deeper understanding of the process, and the long-term relationships necessary for effective governance.

3. For Michigan to become an alternative energy research and development center, lawmakers must reform the regulatory bureaucracy and unfriendly attitude toward business that currently exists at the Department of Environmental Quality. Such reform is vital because most alternative energy development will involve the use of natural resources. The Energy Package (SB 213 and HB 5524), currently awaiting the governor’s approval, addresses some of these regulatory reform needs and is a vital first step.

Julie M. Rogers

Democrat. Age 33. Kalamazoo Township resident. Physical Therapist. Master’s degree, physical therapy, Marquette U. Federal Affairs Liaison, American Physical Therapy Association (advocate for seniors’ healthcare); Kalamazoo County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority Board, Public Relations Chair; Kalamazoo County Economic Development Council member; Bronson Family Advisory Council member; Girls on the Run coach; Kalamazoo Junior League member; Portage Chapel Hill United Methodist Church member; I-94 Adopt-A-Highway volunteer. Additionally, I ran for this seat in 2006 and received 49.4% of the vote. www.juliemrogers.com

1. (a) Oppose. I have witnessed patients in pain and believe all people have a right to good pain management. However, this bill is unnecessary. A pill form of medical marijuana, Marinol, already exists and can be legally prescribed. Ultimately, this is a federal issue and medical marijuana will remain illegal regardless of how Michigan votes. (b) Support. This proposal is limited, morally responsible, and promises to help millions of people with severe diseases. At the same time, it would open up new opportunities in biotechnology, create hundreds of highly skilled jobs, and move Michigan forward.

2. (a) First, we need to elect leaders who will work together. The state government shut-down was evidence of the partisanship and gridlock that exists in Lansing. I have a proven record as the Federal Affairs Liaison for the American Physical Therapy Association, working in a bipartisan manner with Representative Upton and Senator Stabenow to pass Medicare legislation to enhance therapy services for seniors. (b) Constituents also need greater accessibility to their legislators. If elected, I pledge to create a local office that will allow people to talk with someone face-to-face about their concerns and problems right here.

3. I am excited that our legislature passed an initial energy bill that takes a step in the right direction of energy independence. Future renewable energy portfolio standards could be taken further (currently at 10% by 2015). Additionally, I will fight for increased funding for renewable energy programs at WMU and KVCC. By promoting such environmental policies and legislation, Michigan could be a major player in the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. We have the skilled talent and technology. With the leadership and will, we can create an enormous number of highly paid, rewarding jobs right here in Southwest Michigan. 

63rd District
Townships: Brady, Charleston, Climax, Comstock, Pavilion, Richland, Ross, Schoolcraft, Wakeshma. City: Galesburg.

James Bolger

Republican. Age 37. Marshall resident. County Commissioner. Started a business in Kalamazoo 12 yrs ago that competes every day to bring work back to Michigan that is otherwise done somewhere else in the country, or even somewhere else in the world. Bachelor’s degree, finance and political science, WMU. As Commissioner, I have demonstrated bi-partisan results to improve government while saving taxpayer money and putting people first. www.ElectBolger.com  

1. (a) I am neutral on this issue. (b) I oppose this issue. I believe in the preciousness of life. I have personally met children born from these embryos and when I see their eyes I do not see someone that should have been discarded or destroyed for research.

2. (a) The legislature needs to be sure to put getting the job done above partisan politics. Although I understand many people say this in a campaign, I am proud that I have demonstrated my ability to do so. The legislature needs to focus on our biggest priority: jobs for our community. (b) The state must balance the budget with priorities. They cannot help job seekers by hurting small businesses owned by families in our communities. (c) We must also work to increase innovation and creativity throughout our state. We must attract opportunity for our families, for our kids and for our grandkids.

3. The legislature recently passed bi-partisan legislation regarding this issue. In this they did the right thing in working to increase our production of energy while looking for reasonable ways to add alternative sources of energy production. Affordable, clean energy is vital to our economic environment. As we are currently seeing, high energy bills impact our struggling families but also drive up costs of other essentials like groceries and clothes. Affordable energy is also vital to our ability to attract jobs to our community.

Phyllis Smith

Democrat. Age 62. Vicksburg and long-time 63rd District resident. Retired. H.S. graduate. Background well qualifies me to do work that needs to be done in Lansing amidst the current economic downturn. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 951, Executive Officer, 24 yrs; negotiated contracts with large corporations, organized people to better their economic opportunities, worked on budgets and supervised employees. I believe that these negotiating skills are necessary in getting legislation passed. Single parent, two grown children; six grandchildren. . . .

1. (a) I believe marijuana should be legal for medical purposes only and under strict controlled guidelines. I believe that a medical doctor should specify in writing the reason for prescribing the marijuana use by their patient. (b) I have researched the issue of stem cell research. I do not believe the Michigan constitution is the place to resolve the issue of stem cell research.

2. I believe the way to improve the effectiveness of the legislature is to reach across the aisle. Both sides of the aisle need to pull together if we are serious about turning the economy around in Michigan. I believe my negotiating skills will be of great use to me in Lansing.

3. We need to turn Michigan into a green-collar state. We can lead the way into the future by attracting business and industry that research and produce products such as solar power, wind power and bio fuels. By attracting new business and industry into our state, we put people to work and we turn the tax users into taxpayers.