The Right to Life -- Life is Sacred and Must Be Protected At All Costs
Government was designed to protect life, liberty, and property, and I believe that legislators are duty-bound to uphold this basic tenant. Since the 1973 landmark Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, over 50 million lives have been lost to abortion.
As a Roman Catholic, I firmly believe that life, beginning at conception and ending at natural death, is sacrosanct and must be protected at all costs. This especially holds true for the countless unborn who don’t have a voice in our legislature.
Agriculture -- We Must Protect One of Northeast Michigan’s Oldest and Most Important Industries
One of the current issues affecting the Ag Community in Northeast Michigan is the threat of bovine tuberculosis. In 2014, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development responded by establishing Modified Accredited Zones (MAZ). Out of the 83 counties in Michigan, 4 were designated as MAZs – 2 of which are located in the 106th House District: Alpena and Alcona Counties. While this issue remains complicated and continues to evolve, one thing is clear: Agriculture is one of Northeast Michigan’s oldest and vital industries and must be protected.
In this extremely diverse field, there are many issues that will continue to surface such as aquaculture and foreign trade. I look forward to hearing about these issues and many more over the next several months, as I travel the district hearing from you.
The Great Lakes -- Stop Invasive Species Before They Do Irreparable Harm
One of the most important assets to our region that aids in preserving our Great Lakes is the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Sanctuary comprises 4,300 square miles and contains hundreds of shipwrecks of national significance.
Another fantastic resource is the Hammond Bay Biological Station located in Presque Isle County. This facility is absolutely necessary in the fight against invasive species wreaking havoc on our Great Lakes ecosystem. Today, more than 180 invasive and non-native species have been identified as harmful, including zebra mussels, sea lamprey, and alewife.
It is important we ensure that invasive species are stopped before they can do irreparable harm to our fisheries, agriculture, and tourism.
Our Veterans -- Improving Care and Services Available for Our Veterans
While we will never be able to fully repay the debt owed to the great men and women who have sacrificed for us, there are ways we can ensure our veterans receive the treatment they deserve. For many veterans, their greatest struggle is not on the battlefield but here at home.
I have spent the past five years working for a member of Congress who sits on the Veterans Affairs Committee by helping to reduce wait times at Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC), connecting veterans with Veteran Service Officers (VSO) to file claims, and serving as an advocate to many veterans who feel that their voices fall on deaf ears at the VA.
What many people don’t know is that Alpena is the only county in the 106th District with a full-time veterans service office. These offices are funded by grants through the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, which go toward hiring new staff, increasing office hours, or simply maintaining the limited services they currently offer. For veterans living outside of Alpena, they are forced to wait until the office opens or hop in their cars and make the long drive to Alpena to speak with an accredited service officer.
We owe our veterans better than this, and together we can make it happen.
The Second Amendment -- Our Right to Defense is a Natural Right and Check Against Government Power
A lot of candidates running for public office like to talk about our right to bear arms. But unlike most candidates, I am not afraid to say why it is the most important and fundamental of all our inalienable rights.
As a life member of the NRA, I understand that owning a gun is not just about hunting. In fact, the word hunting doesn’t appear anywhere in the constitution. Our right to bear arms is about protecting ourselves from an overreaching government that endangers its people. The constitution outlines many checks and balances on government power, but We the People are the final check against an out-of-control government, and to do that we must have the right to bear arms.
Our Bill of Rights is an acknowledgement of this right, but it does not grant it to us. The right to defense is a natural one and cannot be taken away without due process. We must be vigilant in defending it, and, if elected, I promise to fight against any and all encroachments against the 2nd Amendment.
Energy -- We Must Be Open to New Opportunities for Energy Production in Michigan
These are just some of the reasons I consider myself a proponent of an “all-of-the-above” energy policy. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Michigan is ranked 26th in the nation for energy production. We outperform many states not just because we have more resources to draw from, but because we use them more wisely.
I am not a fan of government picking winners and losers in the economy, and I believe the same holds true for our energy. As a state, we cannot be myopic in our view of energy production. We need to stay open-minded about new possibilities for how we heat our homes, power our businesses, and produce goods to keep our economy running.
Education -- Students Deserve an Outstanding Educations and the Tools to Find Work After Graduation
However, this does not mean we shouldn’t be mindful of the quality of our public education. Like our roads, schools in Northeast Michigan require constant maintenance and improvement. We need to be mindful of the ever changing needs of our students and understand that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for everyone.
I look forward to working with parents, teachers, and school administrators in making sure students are given an outstanding education, and the tools necessary to find work after graduation.
Seniors -- We Must Support Those in Our Communities Who Have Given So Much
Most people spend their entire adult lives working. You may not notice them, but they have been our school teachers, our coaches, our police officers, and they have worked to make our communities safer and stronger. But too often, when it comes time to retire, the communities they have spent their lives building aren’t there for them in the same way.
This is a common experience for many seniors in today’s age. Organizations such as the Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency (NEMCSA) and the Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) provide and connect seniors with vital services in Northeast Michigan; but I believe the dissonance seniors experience is not just a failure by government. This is a community issue and as such requires our full support in order to give back to the generation that helped get us to where we are today.
I believe that a true public servant lives as he speaks. Which is why I’m proud to say that I’m still an active volunteer at the Alpena Senior Center. I encourage anyone reading this to take a moment and consider the seniors who played an important role in your life. It is incumbent upon us as a community to give back to the people who have given so much. If elected your representative, I pledge to lead by example on this very important issue.
Sportsmen -- Legislation Should Lead to More Freedom for Sportsmen
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan is ranked number 3 in the country for paid hunting license holders. Which is why, every year, when the leaves turn and the wind begins to chill, approximately 750,000 Michiganders gear up for hunting season. It’s a generations’ old tradition that is part of who we are as Northerners.
Because of this, I believe that legislation affecting sportsmen should always lead to more (not less) freedom for sportsmen. Public lands are kept and maintained for the people, by the people’s money. This means that public access for sportsmen must be protected, and the government should continue looking for ways to responsibly expand points of access for sportsmen.
Furthermore, many people forget that sportsmen take advantage of hunting season as an opportunity to put food on their tables. Volunteer groups such as Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger (MSAH) work with donors, processors, and charities to get their wild game donations into the hands of some of Michigan’s most needy families. According to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), over the last few years, MSAH has helped provide over 100,000 meals. This is one of many reasons why I give my unequivocal support to Michigan’s sportsmen and commit to working with them in the future to expand access and limit unnecessary government restrictions.