From the editor: At AuSable Media Group, our goal is to emphasize the positive attributes of the people and communities we cover. As an extension of that, we do not allow negative political advertising, or letters to the editor written specifically to disparage an opposition candidate or party. This is our small way of attempting to elevate the level of dialogue in local and national political campaigns.
This voluntary questionnaire was offered to candidates for the upcoming 103rd state house election. Each candidate was given the exact same question and word count limitations.
Answers were not edited or altered in any way by the staff of AuSable Media Group, LLC.
Name: Daire Rendon
Community of residence: Lake City Michigan
Education: High School Graduate, 2 years college
Name: Jordan Stancil
Community of residence: Grayling
Education: University of Michigan (Bachelor’ in U.S. history, with honors); Fulbright Scholar in history, Vienna, Austria; Georgetown University (Master’ in international affairs)
Employment and opportunity
Michigan continues to experience the loss of talented individuals due to a lack of quality employment opportunities, especially in Northern Michigan. What specifically do you plan to do in order to bring more jobs to the Northern part of the state? (Do not use existing or currently planned business operations as examples)
STANCIL: We must reduce taxes, cut car insurance rates, put a cap on prescription drug copays, and reduce college costs. We also need to establish paid family leave, so every worker can take time off to care properly for a new baby or a sick child or parent.
RENDON: Businesses are attracted to an area by a low tax base, a ready work force, abundant cheap energy, and the ability to move goods cheaply and efficiently. Here in Northern Michigan, we really need 3-phase electric and broadband internet to be made more available to business, and that is an issue that I would like to focus on.
The emergency manager (EM) law played a role in the Flint water crises, which is expected to cost state and federal taxpayers more than $600 million (current estimates). In spite of a public referendum banning a previous EM law, the Michigan House of Representatives and Senate voted to overturn the results of that election. What are your thoughts on the emergency manager law and its effect on local control? If elected, will you propose legislation to overturn it? Why or why not?
RENDON: I support the Emergency Manager law as it stands. If a local government so mismanages their own finances that taxpayers from the entire state are expected to pick up the tab and make them solvent, the taxpayers are entitled to reassurance that the future management of that local government will be made accountable to the taxpayers who bailed them out.
STANCIL: I would vote to repeal this law, since that was the decision of the people. We have the right to elect local leaders and control our local budgets. Unfortunately, Lansing has wasted our tax dollars on corporate giveaways to campaign donors, which has contributed to fiscal problems in many communities.
In regard to fracking, do you believe drilling companies should be required to publicly disclose the specific chemical components and amounts they are injecting into the ground; as well as keep track of, and publicly disclose the specific amount of chemicals injected and extracted? If elected, will you introduce a bill to require the disclosures? Why or why not?
STANCIL: Yes, I would require public disclosure of the chemicals pumped into our aquifers by these companies. Fresh water is a precious public resource, and the public has the right to know what is in the water.
RENDON: The regulation of fracking is a federal issue and is under federal guidelines. I do not support adding state regulations to an industry that is already regulated by the EPA.
Open Meetings Act
The legislature and governor are currently exempt from the Open Meetings Act, even though local officials must follow the law. If elected will you introduce a bill, with significant criminal penalties, to revise the act to include all appointed and elected officials at the state level? Why or why not?
RENDON: Schedules of legislative activities in Lansing are always available to the public on Michiganlegislature.org. The public is invited to the Capitol building Monday through Friday. No change is necessary.
STANCIL: Michigan came in 50th place in a ranking of state government ethics. I think that ‘sunshine is the best disinfectant,’ and will fight to strengthen laws on government ethics.
Many Northern Michigan public schools have struggled under the current system of educational funding operated by the state. Although overall funding has increased over the past seven years, the amount dedicated toward classroom instruction has decreased. A greater percentage of overall educational expenditures are also being dedicated to parochial schools and academies. How do you plan to ensure all schools, especially public schools in Northern Michigan, are adequately funded to provide students the education needed to compete in the 21st Century.
STANCIL: Education, like many important public services, has suffered under the failed ideology of trickle-down economics. Big tax breaks and privileges were given to wealthy companies downstate, in the hope that some of the money might ‘trickle down’ to the rest of us, someday. The result is that we no longer have money to invest in our people and their future. We must also stop wasting tax money on for-profit corporate schools, often run by out-of-state ‘education management’ companies. Instead, those resources should be invested in our local public schools.
RENDON: Funding for Michigan students needs to have parity across the state, with students in Northern Michigan getting the same amount as students in metro areas. Students enrolled in private schools are ‘saving’ Michigan taxpayers over $750,000,000.00 per year in per pupil funding, allowing the State to increase the per-pupil funding this year. Since the State is obligated to support public school districts that fail, we need to look at enrollment numbers there, and consider how that will impact the future funding of all of our public schools.
Hunting and fishing licenses
Many Northern Michigan property owners have family members out of state they would like to have come home for the hunting seasons. But out of state licensing fees are prohibitive, preventing families from coming together to share in this great Northern Michigan tradition. If elected will you introduce a bill changing our out-of-state licenses fees to a reciprocal format where people would be charged to hunt or fish in Michigan at the same cost as their home state? Why or why not?
RENDON: Probably not. Most other states do the same. Higher out of state fees to hunt and fish support our Department of Natural Resources and protect our own fish and game management structure here.
STANCIL: Fees should not be ‘prohibitive,’ but Michigan has the right to set its own fees and use the revenue to support hunting and fishing in our state, not be bound by the budgetary decisions of other states.
Do you believe that schools which accept tax revenue, such as religious schools, and charter schools and academies, should have elected boards that are representative of the communities they serve? Why or why not?
STANCIL: There needs to be more accountability in how tax dollars are spent by charter schools. Elected boards are used in some states and could be part of a broader reform here.
RENDON: I believe the elected boards should be comprised of involved parents of the students who attend these schools, as well as local representatives of the business communities there.
Community Mental Health
Parents of disabled students and young adults complain they regularly have conflicts with elected officials and bureaucrats as they work ensure the rights of their children are protected. What specific steps will you take to guarantee that funding is available so disabled adults can transition into a situation where they are able to live independently, without being forced into a foster or group home.
RENDON: If I am fortunate enough to serve on the Health Policy committee in the House of Representatives, I will work to protect the rights of all disabled, including disabled adults, within the parameters of our State budget.
STANCIL: I would increase funding for mental health services. We must treat each patient based on what’ best for that patient, so each individual can thrive. Inadequate mental health care puts a strain on other parts of the health care system, as well as on public education and law enforcement.
After the oil spill in Kalamazoo several years ago, pipelines in the straits of Mackinac, and the chemical plume contaminating private wells in the Mancelona and Kalkaska areas, the public is more aware of the risks posed by aging oil and gas infrastructure across the state. Will you propose legislation to ensure the operators of these facilities are required to notify the public how and when all pipelines are inspected; and ensure compromised lines are replaced before the end of their life expectancy? Why or why not?
STANCIL: We must protect the environment from dangerous pipelines. We cannot just trust the energy companies to do this on their own. We also need to improve our energy infrastructure, as part of the major work we need to do on our aging infrastructure more generally.
RENDON: Probably not. Not a single person I have met at the doors has even mentioned this issue to me. They are most concerned with rising costs of healthcare, high costs of insurance, and decent roads. That said, the protection of our Great Lakes is a priority that needs to be addressed, and I would work to make that happen.
Why should residents of the 103rd District vote for you?
RENDON: As a long-time business owner who has signed paychecks for over 25 years in Northern Michigan, I am the most qualified for the job.
STANCIL: We need a strong new voice for our district in Lansing. I will fight for economic justice for our people, and I have the education and experience to do it.