No shortage of inspiration for 65th arrondissement primary candidates

Voters on both sides of the aisle will have a choice to make in this summer’s primary election over who will compete for state representative in the new 65th district.

Two newcomers are on the August 2 ballot as Democrats, while three candidates are also seeking the Republican green light – positioning the professional backgrounds and political experience of some against the ‘ordinary man’ instincts of others hoping to stand out.

“There’s a first for everything,” said Robert Majchrzak, a Richmond resident who is running against fellow Democrat and first-time candidate Mark Lingeman.

Both said they decided to run to become legislators in a district that now encompasses smaller communities and corners of three separate counties in St. Clair, Lapeer and Macomb.

On the other side are Richmond councilman Jaime Greene, state candidate and Berlin Township farmer Michael Pratt, and real estate broker and township resident Ray Frank Wasung.

Retired from the trucking industry, Lingeman said he lived in St. Clair Shores for 50 years before moving to Metamora. He said he decided to run when he was approached about the idea and because, at the time, no one else was running as a Democrat.

He believed everyone should have a choice.

Marc Lingemann

“My first vote here, I got the mail-in ballot, and it came to my house and there was nobody on the Democratic side,” Lingeman said. “All my life, every time someone showed up unopposed, I didn’t vote for them because it didn’t feel right to me. … And so, I asked my neighbors and they said “Well, that’s Lapeer County. Democrats can’t win. So people won’t run. That’s small offices, too.”

Everyone threw their hats for different variations of the same thing – doing the right thing.

“I went into this thinking that our government has gone in the wrong direction, that we’re having the government’s will imposed on us rather than our government carrying out the will of the people,” Wasung said.

Like other candidates, he did not list the specific issues that inspired him to run, but rather “everything that has happened over the past two years” as motivation. Change, he said, “must start in our own backyards”.

“I think the current situation has made ordinary people more involved because our lack of involvement and complacency is why we ended up here today,” Wasung said.

The redesigned 65th District includes western St. Clair County, including the township of Casco north of Lindsay Road, as well as all of the townships of Brockway, Columbus, Emmett, Greenwood, Lynn, Mussey, Riley and Wales, Capac and Yale.

In Macomb County this includes the townships of Armada, Lenox, Ray and Richmond, Richmond, Memphis and New Haven, while in Lapeer County it is the townships of Almont, Dryden, Imlay City and Arcadia, Attica, Burnside and Goodland.

Republicans prepare to stand out in redesigned neighborhood

Pratt, who previously ran for office in House’s 81st District in 2018, said the new boundaries could suit him uniquely.

Previously, the 81st encompassed many riverside townships. Now more centered, he says it’s more rural and, perhaps, heavier on agricultural interests. His family raises cattle and grows soybeans and other crops.

This context was a great motivation to stand for election again. Four years ago, he was one of a long list of Republicans who ultimately lost a primary bid to state Rep. Gary Eisen, who is running in the new 64th.

Michael Pratt

“Since the pandemic, I think grocery stores have run out of meat and food, maybe the concern about agriculture will be a little bigger issue on people’s minds,” Pratt said. “That’s where I can probably be of more help to Lansing. And maybe the Ministry of Natural Resources and maybe able to explain how can (be) a little more carbon neutral. Cattle farms are actually seen as an upward cycle, so I can do a lot more in that regard. »

In addition to issues that are “what puts food on the table,” Pratt pointed to the regulation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFAS, or “chemicals forever,” calling it “a real serious issue in my book.” .

He said he was generally in favor of getting a grip on government and taxes, but admitted he thought he was “probably more conservative” than the entire Republican Party.

Greene, a U.S. Navy veteran, said she believed Lansing and his bureaucracy had become “deaf to many local issues.” She, too, pondered the district’s new boundaries, capturing communities mostly with populations under 10,000 that she called “salt of the earth people”.

Jaime Greene

And although she didn’t initially intend to run for a higher position, she says this combination helped her do just that.

“I had this dream when I was a little girl. But I’ve been on Richmond City Council for 11 years and I love it,” Greene said. is so fantastic to serve the residents.

“However, the past two years have really shown me how important it is to have a local voice in Lansing and someone to speak up on behalf of local residents and the local community. I also truly believe that I am the best suited person with my skills, talents and experience to represent this field.

Greene also didn’t highlight too many issues as a priority, though she said she supports medical freedom and the fight against “unchecked public health mandates.”

She admitted she had “a bit of a different perspective on parenting” as a “homeschool mom”, but added: “For me it’s all about freedom, and we must have a voice as ordinary citizens.”

Wasung said he wanted to work with voters to identify their top concerns if elected.

Still, he said his biggest issues were auditing the state budget and investigating the integrity of elections.

Frank Wasung

“I am talking about future elections. I don’t think there is anything that can be done about past elections,” Wasung said. “However, I don’t feel like we’re getting accurate results, and I think one fraudulent vote is one vote too many, and that’s enough to stop the process, identify the problem and restart the process.”

Calling the change in political boundaries a surprise, Wasung said the new 65th could change a lot in the next election.

If he is unsuccessful, he said he would likely consider seeking a position with a township or local school board, or something similar, to gain more experience, while staying active with whoever ultimately wins. the seat at the State House.

“I think my concerns are the concerns of the people of these towns in this district,” Wasung said. “The only thing I want them to know is that I’m a normal, regular local citizen who cares about my family and my children, and that’s where my motivation comes from and why I decided introduce myself.”

Democrats look to cross the aisle, embrace the basics

Pratt and Greene have talked about working with Democrats if elected.

But the idea of ​​bipartisanship arose more between the two Democrats in the running.

“I think we are all looking for the same thing. I think we should all be purple,” Majchrzak said. “…I’m with both sides of the aisle. I once voted Republican.

Robert Majchrzak

Also a U.S. Navy veteran, Majchrzak said he worked for the City of New Baltimore and has worked in the wastewater treatment business in one form or another for 26 years.

Now, coming to the end of his career, he said he felt it was a good opportunity to break into state politics by pursuing a seat left ‘sort of wide open’ in a new field. . When asked, he indicated that he hoped to combat the “still lingering” opioid crisis and help addicts as an area he would like to get involved in.

“I lost a brother three years ago to this, so it’s kind of our priority to deal with this somehow,” Majchrzak said. “My brother battled it for 30 years, a cocaine and crack addiction, and in the end it always got him. It’s a tough, tough battle. »

Majchrzak and Lingeman also reference shared gun control and more pro-abortion beliefs.

But they also both understood that not everyone agreed.

“There’s so much going against each other these days,” Lingeman said, speaking of divisive issues. “There is more common ground. I mean, everyone wants the state to be better. We approach it from different angles, but there has to be common ground to work together to get things done.

Lingeman said he also wanted to make sure Michiganders would be able to preserve their right to vote, adding, “Democracy works best when everyone participates. I believe in the postal voting system. I don’t believe in the big lie.

Still, he said it was “difficult to say” how his other priorities would evolve. “Honestly, I’m so new to this,” he said. “…I have ideas about what I don’t want to do, (but I) form and reform my opinion about these things as they happen.”

Contact Jackie Smith at (810) 989-6270 or Follow her on Twitter @Jackie20Smith.

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