The meet-and-greet-style event took place at a brew pub in Holland.
Republicans Orlando Estrada and Bradley Slagh and Democrat Christopher Banks, who are running for the state House 90th District seat, were at the event; as well as Democrat Jerry Sias and Republican Beverly Zimmerman, who are running for the 89th District seat.
Republican incumbent Jim Lilly, who was first elected to represent the 89th District in 2016 and is running for re-election, declined an invitation to the event.
“It’s wonderful to be informal with the candidates and talk to them in a less formal setting,” said Janel Magennis, who has been involved with the League of Women Voters for 44 years. “It gives us the chance to ask questions very candidly.”
The state House 90th District encompasses Holland, Hudsonville and Zeeland, and the townships of Holland, Jamestown and Zeeland. It is being vacated by Rep. Daniela Garcia, who is running for the state Senate this year.
The state House 89th District includes the townships of Grand Haven, Olive, Park, Port Sheldon, Robinson, Blendon, Crockery and Spring Lake, and the cities of Ferrysburg and Grand Haven.
The candidates had various messages they were hoping to get out to the voters at Monday’s event.
“I am not your typical politician,” Sias said. “I don’t want to go to Lansing to create a bunch of new laws and regulations to put on the people of the middle class. I want to go to Lansing to repeal all the bad legislation put on the middle class and working poor in this state.”
Zimmerman said she is running because she feels regular people are not represented in Lansing.
“We need real change,” she said. “The reason I am running is because I have gone from the lowest representative all the way to the top, and there is no representation for the little guy.”
The message he was trying to deliver to voters on Monday was about diversity, Banks said.
“The message tonight is Holland is more than just one race and one group of economic people,” he said. “We are a diverse group of people looking to work and earn our keep and have equal rights.”
Estrada focused on repealing taxes and discussed reforming Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance.
“We are being taxed enough and we need to repeal the taxes imposed, such as the gas tax increase, the senior pension tax, and why not eliminate the state income tax?” he said. “Let’s make it attractive to come back to Michigan.”
Slagh said he wanted voters to learn more about his experience.
“The message for me is I’ve got leadership experience and experience in taking care of the people themselves,” he said. “As county treasurer and township supervisor, I cared for the people I was responsible for.”
The event was free to the public as part of the League of Women Voters’ ongoing efforts to help citizens become well-informed voters before the Aug. 7 primary election. Winners of the primary will move onto the Nov. 6 general election.