2018-08-02 / Life in Leelanau

Candidates from Benzie, Leelanau seek Dem nod

Two Democrats are seeking their party’s nomination for the 101st State House of Representatives, representing Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee and Mason counties.

Kathy Wiejaczka is the only candidate for either the State House or the Senate who resides in Leelanau County.

A member of St. Philip Neri Church, she’s been a nurse for 39 years. In addition, she’s a member of Empire Township Zoning Board of Appeals, Leelanau County Solid Wate Council, and the Leelanau County Housing Action Committee. She owns a construction business with her husband, Kent, with whom she has three children.

Ed Hoogterp of Beulah is also seeking his party’s nomination. He is the present Benzie County Drain Commissioner. He is the former editor of the Manistee News-Advocate, and for 26 years he was a writer and editor for the Booth Newspaper group in Grand Rapids, Jackson and Lansing. He is also past president of the Crystal Lake & Watershed Association.

The top vote-getter in Tuesday’s Primary will advance to face the winner of the Republican nomination in November.

We asked each candidate three questions, limiting their responses to 75 words apiece.

1. In November, state voters will be asked if they want to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational use. Will you be voting for or against that amendment, and why?

2. There’s been a lot of lip service out of Lansing in support of driver insurance reform, but no action. Why hasn’t the GOP delivered on insurance reform?

3. If elected, what policies will you push in Lansing that will directly benefit Leelanau County residents?

Here are their responses in alphabetical order.

Question One

HOOGTERP: I will vote “Yes” on the recreational marijuana proposal. Experience in other states has shown that marijuana can be legalized without harming public health or safety. The law enforcement resources spent on enforcing marijuana laws can surely be put to better purpose. My one remaining concern is for traffic safety. Like alcohol, marijuana can impair judgment. As state representative, I will insist that we quickly develop clear and enforceable standards to deter “stoned driving.”

WIEJACZKA: As a registered nurse my focus has always been on health, safety, and education. My concerns are for product safety, driver safety, and protections for children’s exposure to marijuana. I will vote for legalization because it provides consumer protections but we must ensure effective means for testing driver impairment. Through legalization we take revenue away from drug cartels, avoid laced products, decrease opioid addictions, and infuse increased tax revenue into state coffers.

Question Two

HOOGTERP: Insurance reform hasn’t happened because our representatives are working for the special interests that pay for their campaigns. As long as big donors are determined to protect parts of the current system, our lawmakers are unable to act. This is why I have declined to accept money from special interest groups, even those I generally agree with. I will listen to all sides, and then find a solution that the public can support and afford.

WIEJACZKA: We all know we’re paying too much for auto insurance. Letting insurance companies pay for less medical coverage without the assurance of reduced rates won’t help anyone. Democrats are focused on protecting our gold standard of care for victims of catastrophic accidents so they are not forced into legal litigation to pay for the care they’ll need. I support the bipartisan plan to lower rates without sacrificing coverage. See more information at www.fairandaffordable.com

Question Three

HOOGTERP: Leelanau County thrives because of clean water, natural resources and small farms. The county will benefit from increased funding for environmental protection, good roads, schools, and high-speed internet. I have proposed that the state provide financial support, and work with employers and local agencies to make child care, affordable housing and other services available to all who need them. I will support increased funding for agricultural research, including the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Station.

WIEJACZKA: I support affordable, quality health care for all; reining in prescription drug costs through legislation; improving and funding public education; and creating living wage jobs with benefits. Additional prominent concerns include workforce housing and high-speed Internet access. Small businesses account for 50 percent of the workforce so we should increase skilled trade programs in public schools and offer small business grants. Affordable healthcare for all will decrease small business expenditures and assure their viability.

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