All of the Republican candidates for the 30th District seat — Joe Haveman, Daniela Garcia, Roger Victory and Rett DeBoer — appeared at the League of Women Voters’ forum Monday night at Spring Lake District Library.
The two candidates running in the GOP primary for the state House 89th District — incumbent Rep. Jim Lilly, R-Park Township, and challenger Beverly Zimmerman — did not attend.
The winners of the Aug. 7 primary will be on the Nov. 6 ballot to face state Senate candidates Jeanette Schipper (Democrat) and Mary Buzuma (Libertarian), and state House hopeful Jerry Sias (Democrat).
With a week until the election, the four Senate candidates were asked a variety of questions regarding issues facing the state and region.
Haveman said that, aside from affordable housing, one of the biggest issues that face the county is transportation, and making sure that the county receives its fair share of money for public transit and road projects. He said local elected officials need to do their due diligence to stand up at the table in Lansing and advocate for the funding that’s needed.
“I think transportation and making sure we get our fair share of road money to this quadrant (is important),” he said.
Haveman also noted that it takes effort from local governments to communicate with state legislators to let them know what is important in their communities.
“The communities have to tell us what their problems are,” he said. “They change from year to year.”
Like Haveman, DeBoer also noted that roads continue to be a big issue for Ottawa County.
“We need to make higher-quality roads,” she said.
DeBoer said that while advanced technology might increase the cost of the roads, it would also mean a longer life for the roadway.
“Now that we’ve repealed the prevailing wage, we’ve got more money to put into them,” she said.
DeBoer said the state needs to have a solid plan in place for how it will spend money and repair roads in order to attract road construction firms to the state.
“Road construction companies will go to other states and work where they have plans in place and the money is there,” she said.
Garcia said the area’s continued growth is one of the top issues.
“We’re the fastest growing county in the state of Michigan, and that brings unique challenges and opportunities to our area,” she said.
This includes grappling with how to address additional housing, added law enforcement coverage and increased mental health coverage for county residents.
“We have some unique challenges because we’re growing so fast,” Garcia said. “But we have some unique opportunities.”
Garcia added that the county’s ability to work collaboratively would be key in how many of these issues are addressed.
Victory said that Ottawa County’s two Lake Michigan state park resources need to be addressed in Lansing. He called the state parks in Grand Haven and Holland “donor parks,” meaning the money generated from them doesn’t pay for the needs the parks require.
“The revenue produced at these state parks doesn’t stay here,” Victory said. “Where’s the staffing? Where’s the money? We generate it, but it moves across the state. ... We need to capture that money and not siphon the money away from these jewels,” adding that people might not return if the parks aren’t properly staffed or kept in good condition.
Following the primary election, all of the candidates appearing on the Nov. 6 general election ballot will be invited to participate in a league-sponsored forum in September at the Grand Haven Community Center. That forum will take place shortly after the absentee voter ballot applications are available. It will give people who vote absentee the chance to learn about the candidates early enough so that they can make an informed decision, League of Women Voters officials said.