Saginaw, Saginaw Township will share one state representative after the November election. So far, there is 1 candidate.

SAGINAW, MI – With less than a month to go until the state filing deadline, State Representative Amos O’Neal remains the only candidate seeking a seat in the new House of representatives from Michigan which encompasses the two most populous communities in Saginaw County.

The Democrat announced earlier this month his candidacy for the 2022 election for the new 94th District, which includes Saginaw and Saginaw Township.

O’Neal was elected in 2020 to serve a district that does not today encompass Saginaw Township, an ever-growing community that could overtake Saginaw’s population during the 2022 election winner’s 2-year term After the State House maps were redrawn in December, the township and city — which combine to make up about 45% of the county’s total population — were consolidated into the new 94th District.

Currently, State Representative Rodney Wakeman represents the district which includes Saginaw Township. The Republican earlier this week announced his candidacy for a neighboring district that was also shaped during the redistricting process, avoiding a potential showdown with O’Neal in the November 2022 election.

O’Neal, a Saginaw native, said he was the right candidate for voters in Saginaw Township, including residents who voted for Republican representation two years ago.

“I think all of our constituents would appreciate having someone who has the connections and the experience in Lansing, and who is used to working with people on both sides of the aisle to get things done,” did he declare.

O’Neal said he’s proud of his record of working with GOP allies, including State Sen. Ken Horn, a Frankenmuth Republican who represents many of O’Neal’s constituents in the Michigan Senate. As recently as February, the two teamed up. They sponsored legislation that prevented the state from reducing Saginaw County’s five judgeships to four, as originally planned.

“It was a big deal, doing that; and we did it together, Senator Horn and I,” O’Neal said. “These are the things we are prepared to do for our constituents. Whether you’re an R (Republican), D (Democrat) or I (Independent), our constituents want us to work together.

O’Neal and Horn were also seen together last year in ads — including billboards — promoting COVID-19 vaccinations to the public.

O’Neal said there were “slight” differences between voters in Saginaw and Saginaw Township, but there were many commonalities.

“A lot of people who used to live in town now live in township, and I know a lot of people in township,” he said.

O’Neal said his efforts to improve the economy, strengthen existing businesses and create a strong workforce are top priorities for residents of Saginaw and Saginaw Township.

“We talk about futurism in terms of how do we prepare to be competitive and maintain our technological advancements,” O’Neal said. “We are moving from combustion engines to (electric vehicles), and this is going to be a major transformation in terms of industries close to us. Nexteer Automotive is transitioning right now, and then you have all the spin-off jobs around Nexteer and other automotive companies.

O’Neal said his dedication to education initiatives was also an issue that bridged the differences between Saginaw residents and their township neighbors.

“We need to prepare for the rigorous technology training that our students will need to win those high-tech jobs,” O’Neal said. “Everyone in this region understands that. We need to change the way we teach in terms of preparing our next group of leaders for these jobs.

The new 94th District also encompasses at least parts of Bridgeport, Buena Vista, Carrollton, and Spaulding townships. These municipalities were also part of the current 95th District, the pre-district seat owned by O’Neal since his victory in 2020.

If he wins the 94th District seat this year, O’Neal will no longer represent voters in James, Kochville and Zilwaukee Townships as well as the City of Zilwaukee, which were moved to neighboring State House districts under the new map.

O’Neal, a former member of Saginaw City Council and the Saginaw County Board of Commissioners, was embroiled in a disputed primary race two years ago. He won 46% of the vote against four Democratic challengers in August 2020.

He beat Republican Charlotte DeMaet in November 2020 by more than double the vote, 23,909 to 10,190.

State Representatives Amos O’Neal (center left) and Rodney Wakeman (center right) attend the dedication ceremony for a new section of the Saginaw County Veterans Memorial Plaza in June 2021. (Riley Murdock | MLive )

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