Meet the candidates for state Senate

Tribune Staff • Aug 3, 2018 at 3:00 PM

The Tribune distributed questionnaires to candidates in contested races in the upcoming Aug. 7 primary elections. Their responses are listed below.

Note: The responses may have been formatted, but have not been edited in any way. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

Name: Rett DeBoer

Political party (if applicable): Republican

Office you’re running for: State Senate District 30

Age: 67

Occupation: Retired

Education: University of Michigan, graduated with a BA in French, with concentrations in Cinema and photography

Elected offices held: None

Community Involvement: Campaign Co-Coordinator, Patrick Colbeck for Governor, Volunteer Coordinator and assistant to the Campaign Co-chair for the 2016 Presidential Campaign Ottawa County, Precinct Delegate, Delegate to the State Convention 2017, served on the Ottawa County GOP Executive Committee 2017/18 and Outreach co-chair for 2017. Prayer Coordinator at my church, Volunteer for Set-Free Ministry, trained to do Freedom Appointments for Wellsprings of Freedom, Intl.

Why are you running for office? Conservative leaders such as Senator Patrick Colbeck, and Speaker of the House Tom Leonard have inspired me with their conservative stance on the issues. I have three children, three step-children, eighteen grand-children and four of these are blended families, most of them living in Ottawa County. I feel strongly that God has led me into politics and especially this Senate Seat, and where He leads, He guides and provides.

What do you think are the 2/3 biggest issues facing the city/county/state right now?

1. Education and improving our graduation rate, ability to have college-ready students, and children who can read in the third grade.

2. Lower car insurance and registration fees, especially for seniors.

3. Fixing the roads and infrastructure.

How do you plan to address these issues?

1. I want to fix education from the ground up not force-feed teachers and students from the Federal and State level. Get rid of Common Core and teach the basics, not teach for tests. Reduce regulations and reporting which takes excessive time away from teacher preparation.

2. Work on getting rid of fraud in the car insurance industry… set some fees so that a $65 x-ray doesn’t cost $650. Address the State mandates and lower the cost of health insurance, which affects car insurance rates.

3. Put the money into the roads that was originally ear-marked for them, but more importantly, build higher quality roads with a rubberized surface that last 3-4 times longer(already tested).

What qualifications/experiences set you apart from your opponents?

I am married, with a large family, which gives me a unique perspective and worldview. I have a passion for young people and have been volunteering two days a week at Muskegon Heights Middle School. I want to see our young people succeed, which means education, skilled-trades, work opportunities at a young age to build skills and a good work ethic. I have started and built up my own business from scratch to a 2500sq. ft store. I am active in the Republican Party, a staunch conservative who will do what’s right in Lansing. I don’t need a career or the money. I don’t plan to fill a seat or take my lead from special interests or the Caucus. I’ll be true to my values and what I am running on. I am also active in my church.

Name: Daniela R. Garcia

Political party (if applicable): Republican

Office you’re running for: 30th Senate District

Age: 39

Occupation: Michigan State Representative, 90th House District

Education: West Ottawa High School, B.A. University of Michigan, M.A. Catholic University

Elected offices held: Michigan State Representative, elected in 2014 and 2016

Community Involvement:

Representative Daniela Garcia has been involved in the community on a variety of levels including:

Ronald McDonald House of West Michigan, Former Board Member

Children’s Afterschool Achievement Program, Former Board Member

Kid’s Food Basket, Former Board Member

West Coast Chamber Public Policy Committee Member

Leadership Grand Rapids, Graduate

GR Chamber of Commerce Education and Health and Human Services Committee, Former Member

Why are you running for office?

I am running to be a voice for Ottawa County in the State Senate. We spent the last eight years recovering from the lost decade, during which time I like many others had to find opportunities out of state. Michigan needs to continue our momentum over the next eight years. Ottawa County needs a State Senator who has a strong record of collaboration with our local businesses, education institutions and local officials to put policies in place that will continue to work to strengthen our local economy and address the needs of our community, I am that person.

What do you think are the 2/3 biggest issues facing the city/county/state right now?

My top priorities include working to sustain the economic progress we have made over the last eight years, addressing the education, workforce and talent needs of our community and maintaining a fiscally responsible budget that is completed in a timely fashion. Other priorities include addressing infrastructure needs and lowering auto insurance rates for Ottawa County residents.

How do you plan to address these issues?

Since my time in the legislature, I have made it a priority to understand the needs of our growing community. I have met with businesses, educators, local units of government, community members etc. to identify the concerns and opportunities in our region and then advocate on behalf of Ottawa County in the legislature. My 15 years of public policy experience give me a unique understanding of the legislative process which has helped me get results for Ottawa County.

I will continue to work with the business and education community to address the economic and talent issues that face our state. I will continue to work on legislation that provides for deregulation and smarter regulation in order for our business community to succeed. I have worked on and will continue working to provide flexibility in our schools so that our students may enter the workforce prepared when going directly into the workforce, into a skilled trade or a two or four-year degree program. I will continue to support programs that provide for skilled training for individuals who are currently in the workforce and need additional skills for the jobs of today and the future.

With respect to roads and infrastructure, I will continue to advocate for responsible investment from the State’s general fund and increased accountability. Since my time in the legislature, Ottawa County has received over $100 million in infrastructure funding. I support auto no-fault reforms that pass along any savings realized by insurance companies go to the policyholders of Ottawa County, that protects seniors, that does not subsidize the auto insurance rates of Detroit.

What qualifications/experiences set you apart from your opponents?

I have a unique background in public policy, with over 15 years of policy experience. I know how to work with stakeholders, craft policy and understand the appropriations and legislative process. I take the time to study legislation and work with individuals in our community to understand the policy implications that it will have on our community. Throughout my career, I have worked on policy issues that impact all residents of Ottawa County and Michigan these are commerce and trade, education/workforce and health care policies. These policy issues have been a focus of mine while serving in the Michigan House of Representatives. I make it a point to be present, accountable and transparent while serving our community.

Name: Joe Haveman

Political party (if applicable): Republican

Office you’re running for: State Senator, 30th District

Age: 58

Occupation: Director, Governmental Affairs, Hope Network

Education: B.S. Public Administration, Ferris State University

Elected offices held: State Representative, 2009-2014; Ottawa County Commissioner, Holland City Council member

Community Involvement: Many organizations, including my church, Ridge Point Community Church, Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce’s public policy committee; Zeeland city economic restructuring; Ottawa County Republican executive committee.

Why are you running for office?

To finish the job I worked on as chair of the House Appropriations Committee of bringing Michigan back to economic and social leadership nearly destroyed during the “lost decade”, 2003-2011, and to bring civility and cooperation to a political process that has degenerated into a lack of respect for one’s opponents and colleagues.

What do you think are the 2/3 biggest issues facing the city/county/state right now?

1. Strengthening local government as they are closest to the people and can respond to problems more quickly with less cost than can Lansing bureaucrats;

2. Restoring civility and honor to our issue and political discussions, thereby increasing the opportunity for cooperation and ending gridlock on such issues as the high cost of auto insurance;

3. Reforming Michigan’s Mental Health delivery system to squeeze out the bureaucratic hurdles between money appropriated for mental health care treatment and the services actually reaching the consumer.

How do you plan to address these issues?

1. Increase revenue sharing for local governments to address roads, water, sewer and other infrastructure needs without raising taxes by using my experience as House Appropriations Chair to re-direct savings found in duplication and waste in state departments to fund more tools for local government.

2. Encourage the initiation of civility courses in schools, colleges and state employee training programs to encourage positive debate and constructive critical speech. In the Legislature, insist on enforcement of existing rules that prohibit personal attacks during debates.

3. Using my Hope Network experience and contacts within the mental health service community, employ the Legislature’s oversight authority to streamline the delivery of services to those needing them. I will work to cut the red tape that bogs down the delivery of these critically needed services.

What qualifications/experiences set you apart from your opponents?

Alone among the four candidates for state senator I have the following combination of experiences: husband, father, grandfather; 21 years in the construction industry; 30 years of public service in Holland, Ottawa county, and the Michigan House; 3.5 years working for Hope Network and their mission of providing opportunity for the disabled in our state.

Name: Jeanette Schipper

Political party (if applicable): Democrat

Office you’re running for: State Senate, district 30

Age: 41

Occupation: Administration, Western Theological Seminary

Education: Attended Davenport University, Attended MSU, Currently enrolled at Western Theological Seminary

Elected offices held: None

Community Involvement:

Member Faith Leaders for Justice

Advisory Board Member Lakeshore Clubhouse/Lakeside Clubhouse

Survival Council for Center for Women in Transition

Board Member of Latino Seminary Scholarship Fund

Community Park Party Organizer

Community Event Planning for churches

Why are you running for office?

I believe in democracy and the importance of the voice of The People, I am running to represent a voice of many that have been under-represented for far too long. I desire to bring compassion back into government and invest in people, rather than corporations.

What do you think are the 2/3 biggest issues facing the city/county/state right now?

How do you plan to address these issues?

Living wages and Affordable Housing:

I support a minimum $15 per hour wage and will vote on legislation to increase the minimum wages in Michigan.

I will work with municipalities to address new construction initiatives that will incentivize new homes being built in the $150,000 - $250,000 range. The purpose will be affordable housing and home ownership. We have people paying for rent, when they could be owning a home. We need to work on ways in which we can make home ownership a reality for every family.

Healthcare/Mental Health:

We must first stabilize the Affordable Care Act, then work towards a Medicare-for-All plan that removes profit and reduces healthcare cost for employers and employees.

I want to address Mental Health discrimination by streamlining complaints for those seeking mental health treatment. Hold the corporations and institutions accountable to the Federal Parity Law and customer access of services. I will lead Michigan in innovation for mental health with brain illness research and high quality, equal access, treatment centers that provide a holistic approach to mental health recovery.

Public Education

We must first stop raiding the K-12 education fund.

Stop our tax dollars from going towards for-profit charter schools and private schools.

Create equitable funding distribution to school districts.

Fund schools with a tiered Michigan tax that is equitable and fair to Michigan residents.

What qualifications/experiences set you apart from your opponents?

My opponents have experience in politics, I have experience in people. I have a wealth of life experience that allows me to empathize with those in poverty, those experiencing homelessness, abuse, and those struggling to pay bills each week. I come with the lens of a Latina, a survivor, a mother, and an advocate. I sit on boards that matter to people, because I represent the voice of the people. I want to bring that voice into government and put people above profits and bottom lines.

Name: Roger Victory

Political party (if applicable): Republican

Office you’re running for: State Senate 30th District

Age: 53

Occupation: Farmer - Owner/Operator of Victory Farms

Education: Davenport University - BA in Business Management, Associates in Logistics.

Elected offices held: State Representative 88th House District

Community Involvement:

Advisory Board Member for Careerline Tech Center.

Former President Ottawa County Farm Bureau.

Deacon and Elder at First Hudsonville Christian Reformed Church.

Why are you running for office?

I am running for State Senate to preserve our Ottawa County Values. Ottawa County is a special place and I want to make sure we keep working together to improve our quality of life and deliver a brighter future for our community.

What do you think are the 2/3 biggest issues facing the city/county/state right now?

Auto Insurance Reform

Road and Infrastructure Funding

Affordable Housing

How do you plan to address these issues?

1. Auto Insurance Reform

I am proud to have voted to lower our auto insurance rates. We pay the highest car insurance rates in the country and they are continuing to go up. The current system is simply unsustainable and unfair. We have to stop talking about the problem and take actions to solve it. To just say “NO” to the only chance we have had in 30 years to lower our car insurance rates is foolish and inexcusable.

I support auto insurance reform that: gives drivers a choice, stops fraud and abuse in the insurance system, requires transparency for auto no fault claims, and most importantly will prohibit healthcare services from charging more for auto accident related care.

2. Road and Infrastructure Funding

I recently worked with the Governor and a few fellow Representatives to pass the 21st Century Infrastructure Program. This legislation, the first of its kind in the nation, will provide us with a full understanding of the condition of our roads, bridges, waterways, and utilities. We will be able to properly budget and plan for comprehensive repairs and ensure that we are using proven best practices to build better and longer lasting roads, bridges, and water systems.

This is important because, while we can all see and feel how bad our roads are, it is much harder to see the condition of our water systems and other underground utilities. We have to look at all of our infrastructure concerns and make sure we are building a better and safer future for our community.

To better support these types of smart investments I have also secured increased road funding every year I served on the Transportation Budget Committee. I have worked hard to cut government waste and ensure that the funding goes directly into road repair.

3. Affordable Housing

Ottawa County has some of the largest population growth in the state, and as a result the demand for housing in our communities has skyrocketed. While increased property values can be a good thing, we are also dealing with record low unemployment and a decreased labor supply. So the people we need to come here to work are not able to find a place to live. To address this immediate need I have been working to support and expand regional transit options. When we are able to connect the Grand Haven, Holland, and Hudsonville communities to the Grand Rapids and Muskegon area transit systems we can quickly bring that much needed skilled labor to our local businesses.

What qualifications/experiences set you apart from your opponents?

I am running for State Senate as Farmer Rog, just like a our founding fathers had intended. A government made up of the citizens, not career politicians and lobbyists, but real people. The real people who live and work here, who respect our community and look out for each other.

This is why I hold my office hours on Saturdays, outside of 9-5, and at some of the busiest restaurants around. I want to talk to the hardworking men and women of Ottawa County, to make sure their concerns are heard. We deserve a State Senator that is open, honest, and accessible. If you are meeting with more lobbyists than you are residents, you are doing the job wrong.

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