Subject: Legislative priorities for the middle class, the working poor, lower income and poverty populations in Michigan
August Primary, 2018
Thank you letter to Official Candidate Responders below:
Candidates for Michigan House - 91st District: Tanya Cabala (D), Andy O'Riley (D)
Fourth Sending to Official Candidate Non-Responders below:
Candidates for Michigan House - 91st District: Greg VanWoerkom (R)
Candidate for Michigan House - 92nd District: Representative Terry Sabo (D-I)
Candidates for Congress - 2nd District: Rob Davidson (D), Representative Bill Huizenda (R-I)
1. What are your 5 top legislative priorities that will measurably expand the middle class, decrease the working poor, lower income and poverty populations in your district and/or the state?
2. What are your current frustrations with the governing and/or legislative process?
3. What character or personality strengths, skills and innovative thinking do you bring to the legislative process?
Original and Fourth Sending Letter sent:
The MceZ Core Principle for June is FREEDOM!
Open letter for publishing in MceZ-It!
Fourth Sending: June 14, 2018
Third Sending: June 4, 2018
The MceZ Core Principle for May is EXCELLENCE!
Second Sending: May 29, 2018
May 22, 2018
Subject: (Fourth and final sending) Legislative priorities for the middle class, the working poor, lower income and poverty populations in Michigan
Thank you for your public service.
In my effort to become an informed citizen, taxpayer and voter, I would like to know if your reasons for seeking re-election to this office align with my values. It would be helpful if you would take the time to answer the following 3 questions:
What are your 5 top legislative priorities that will measurably expand the middle class, decrease the working poor, lower income and poverty populations in your district and/or the state?
What are your current frustrations with the governing and/or legislative process?
What character or personality strengths, skills and innovative thinking do you bring to the legislative process?
I look forward to hearing from you. If I have not heard from you by May 29, 2018, I will contact you, again. Thank you.
Policy and Disclaimer Statement
Candidate Tanya Cabala
June 16, 2018
Dear Eunice –
I appreciate your interest in knowing my legislative priorities as they relate to the middle class and low income and poverty populations in my district and the state, my current frustrations with the governing and legislative process, and what I would bring to the legislative process.
I am a lifelong resident of the 91st district. I live in Whitehall, in the house in which I grew up. I have been a teacher, freelance writer, community activist, small business owner, and Great Lakes protection advocate. My candidacy is not about me, however. It is about what I hope to do for people in the 91st district and our state with the help of citizens and other leaders in our state.
I worked first as an elementary teacher and then became involved in local environmental cleanup efforts when my children were very young. I wanted to make things better and for them to know I cared enough not to ignore our area’s pollution problems – both in the White Lake area, and throughout Muskegon County. I wanted my children to know that good things could happen, if we work hard and work together, and don’t give up. I am proud of the effort I was involved in to clean up White Lake and honored to be a part of an amazing group of people who persisted. I went on from there to work for a Great Lakes protection organization, and as a consultant to numerous similar organizations in our region. I have also been a freelance writer and columnist for over a decade and served on the Whitehall City Council for three terms totaling 12 years.
I feel very fortunate to be able to work with local citizens and state and federal officials to restore White Lake to health. That is why my campaign slogan is Restore Michigan. Nearly 30 years after I first got involved in local environmental cleanup efforts, my children are grown up, I have grandchildren and I see even more problems that need attention. It feels like everything that I care about is at risk. I know many people working two and three jobs to scrape out a living, families are worried about the cost of basic healthcare, and public schools are in crisis. Even though we had a huge success right here – we restored White Lake to health - support for protecting the Great Lakes is under attack. My priorities are described more fully below.
Good Paying Jobs
Many working-class citizens in Michigan are struggling to afford the basics of a good life, due in part to wages that have not kept up with the cost of living. I grew up in a middle-class family. My parents were both teachers. We were not rich, but we had enough food to eat, good health and dental insurance, and were able to take occasional vacations. I brought my kids up in the 90s, as a single mom working at a nonprofit job. It wasn’t easy at all. But I was able to provide adequately for them, along with some extras like sports camps. My friends and family members were doing fine too.
Fast forward to today. Many people I know are living very close to the margins and have two and three jobs just to make ends meet. Others are putting retirement off into the far future. Young parents are struggling to pay for even just the basics – food and housing - let alone any extras. My budget is tighter than ever, so I understand what people are going through. We need to turn this around and help working people afford a good quality of life. We need to fund skilled trades and also retraining programs, and invest in new jobs, such as in the renewable energy sector. We must increase the minimum wage.
Allowing people to earn a livable wage gives them more money to spend at local businesses and this will create jobs as demand for products and services increases. Henry Ford knew this well and
increased his wages so that his workers could afford to buy the cars his company made!
We do need to ensure that increases in wages do not result in a loss of jobs or the shuttering of businesses. This sort of reform hasn't happened yet because it isn't easy, but I'm looking forward to doing the hard work necessary and finding the path to a living wage for all working Michiganders. I will work to restore good paying jobs in Michigan.
The high cost of healthcare for our citizens is hurting families and the economy. We need to restore affordable healthcare. Healthcare costs have skyrocketed. The median average family income in Michigan grew just less than a half a percent between 2008 and 2013, while the cost of the average family insurance premium rose nearly 35 percent and the employee’s share increased 57 percent (according to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality). This means people are often going without critical care, putting them at risk for illness and death, and incurring huge costs and creating financial problems, such as bankruptcy. For employers, rising health insurance costs results in fewer jobs. It also impacts our economy, as families decrease consumer spending, impacting entertainment and retail businesses.
I know this firsthand. As a self-employed consultant for over 10 years, getting health insurance on the private market has been a continual challenge. No sooner would I get a new plan, then the premiums would go up. Every other year, it would get so expensive that I would shop around and switch. Eventually, to afford the premiums, I ended up with a $10,000 deductible. As the years passed, I worried about getting sick and having health expenses that could bankrupt me, and I worried about getting a pre-existing condition that would make my insurance even more expensive and possibly unaffordable.
I am relieved now to have affordable and comprehensive insurance on the Michigan health exchange and I’ve helped several friends who did not have health insurance get insurance there also. One was able to have cataract surgery on both eyes. Another finally had a preventative exam and discovered she had a pre-cancerous condition that needed immediate attention. Even so, healthcare costs continue to increase, and there are efforts underway to remove protections from existing healthcare plans. Affordable healthcare should not a privilege for the few who can afford it. It should be for all.
We need to protect people with pre-existing conditions, protect seniors and older people who are not eligible for Medicare, prevent huge rate hikes and reduce prescription costs, protect essential benefits, such as preventive and wellness care and mental health services, and prevent annual and lifetime caps on coverage. I will work to restore affordable healthcare.
Support for Public Education
We have to empower students to succeed - no matter where they are coming from and where they are going. Michigan schools are in crisis right now. Not only are our students ranked low compared to students in other states in recent national studies, the profession is attracting far fewer candidates, putting our schools at future risk. This harms our children, limits their potential, and hurts the economic future of Michigan.
There is no one cause, but many factors, including an overemphasis on testing and paperwork, and overall cuts to public school funding, resulting in lower pay for teachers, pay freezes, and salary reductions. This is made worse by changes to the pension system, cutting overall benefits.
With parents as teachers, and as a trained teacher and substitute teacher, I have been in classrooms from kindergarten to high school, recently and going back to over 30 years ago. I know firsthand that our students depend on keeping great teachers, and our ability to continue to attract competent professionals to this very important job.
Well-educated students are a basic building block of our great state. Public education serves all and is a responsibility we all share. It is the foundation for economic prosperity and a good quality of life for Michigan citizens. We need to work together to make it top notch.
We need to put the best people possible into the classrooms with the skills and support that allows students to prosper. We do this by providing excellent teacher training, providing adequate pay and benefits, and giving teachers autonomy – the ability to use their training and experience to best educate their students. I will work to restore support for public schools.
Protecting the Great Lakes
Cuts to Michigan's environmental programs, along with cuts at the federal level, and lax oversight are reducing protection of the Great Lakes.
Lead-contaminated drinking water in Flint has caused sickness and miscarriages; an algae-fouled Lake Erie threatens the area’s economy; a malfunctioning oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac puts water quality at risk; precious pure drinking water is up for sale for cheap by the bottle water industry; no strategy is in place for protecting Great Lakes dunes in our state; and Michigan ranks near the bottom of states in protecting lakes and rivers from pollution from aging septic systems. All putting our Great Lakes and our health and livelihood at risk.
A healthy Great Lakes is essential for public health, a healthy economy, and quality of life. Michigan sits in the middle of the Great Lakes, with about 90% of the country’s surface freshwater, and one-fifth of the earth’s surface freshwater. Almost 40 million rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water. Strong environmental protections for the Great Lakes protect public health and support a healthy economy. We have a responsibility to protect this globally significant freshwater resource.
We know well in Muskegon County the value of strong environmental protections, and what happens when they are weak. In 1985, both White and Muskegon Lakes were placed on a list of 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern, or toxic hotspots, for pollution caused in years ago. I was part of a group of people in the White Lake area who worked for 22 years to clean up White Lake, and it was removed from the toxic hotspot list in 2014.
Muskegon Lake is one of 12 toxic hotspots left in Michigan still being cleaned up, and it will need millions more to finish the massive restoration effort currently underway. I will use what I learned from working effectively for decades with state and federal environmental agencies and communities to ensure that citizens can participate meaningfully in decision-making processes and that the Great Lakes are protected.
What I Bring to the Job of State Representative
I have worked for nearly 30 years as a community and Great Lakes activist. I have learned many important lessons about working with others who are passionate about making a difference at local, state and federal levels. We have tacked thorny issues and tough decisions. I know well that it is one thing to talk about problems – it is another thing entirely to do something about them. I am proud to have put the time and energy into getting good things done and I plan to continue that practice.
I believe we need to be able to have productive dialogues to get to good solutions that we can all get behind. We also need strong, dedicated and motivated leaders who can work across the aisle, diplomatically and with respect, to fix these problems and many others. All of my work has been with folks from both sides of the aisles, politically. I work with whomever shows up to get good things done.
I will use my experience and background and experience to get good things done in Lansing on the behalf of all citizens in Michigan. We need to bring back good state government to Michigan. I believe it’s not how big or little government is, but how good it is in providing opportunities for our citizens to have a happy and prosperous life.
I am very excited to be a candidate for state representative for the 91st district. I have been campaigning for the last 10 months and I am encouraged and inspired by the support from voters of this area. Please see my website, www.tanyacabala.com or my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Cabalafor91st/ for more information. Please do not hesitate to ask questions if you seek further clarification.
Candidate Andy O'Riley
June 4, 2018
Thank you for your email and please accept my apologies for not getting back in touch with you sooner. My campaign email is not the most user friendly and I am working mostly out of my personal work email for the ease of it all and I apologize for not seeing yours in the other account sooner.
To answer your questions,
My top 5 legislative priorities. Well, this is my first run for a State Seat...I am learning a lot as I go so to prioritize them...well...I need to know more about the strengths and weakness around them. Personally...I am the working poor. I operate a small media company in Muskegon and we focus on sharing news that no one else touches. We focus on people who do remarkable things with little or nothing on my blog Positively Muskegon and as that grew, we established the Muskegon Channel.com to expand our news offerings and coverage around the community. The pay is enough to get by on, but that's it. It's much more about the purpose of giving others the voice and platform to help transform Muskegon. To show the people here, and those outside the community the value, beauty and extraordinary things that go on here, instead of who got shot and what liquor store got robbed.
We're coming close to the million page view mark...and it's wonderful. If elected I'd like to continue that message in Michigan to help continue to rebuild Muskegon with better paying jobs....we seem to have a good majority of people here stuck at $12 an hour and it's creating a hostile situation for the employment world. Too many places that want to hire, but when they do...the people won't stay because they can find a quarter more an hour down the street. I am a big believer in the United Way's ALICE program where if you just pay people enough for stability in home life, they can focus on their task and deliver better for a company. I also focus a lot of time on our media properties showing people what's available for the poor and lower income to poverty stricken people here in town. I'll put the links at the bottom.
I am frustrated mostly by the partisan divisions we have in government. I think the parties are somewhat to blame, but since my background is media....I look at it a little differently. The media is controlled by Wall Street and if your brand of media is right or left leaning, they know how to brand their content to keep you glued to the tv and keep you convinced that gloom and doom are what we face. I am not ready to label it propaganda yet, but it's all researched to death behind the scenes and believe me when I tell you....they are way more worried about the bottom line than they are reporting the news. They don't mind the slant because it leads to ratings which leads to money. This ties back into my first answer above with how I run my media company.
Character and personality strengths...this one is hard. I was taught to never be a braggart growing up, but since you asked I can mention a few things. I was Muskegon's Citizen of the Year in 2014. This was before I started my work online. I help organizations when I can by being the emcee or adding some of my knowledge to help their programs do better. In 2017 I got a sustainability award for my work on the media properties for keeping Muskegon connected better than the paper or radio. We really are a black hole here for media if you ask me. I work with a local group called Read Muskegon on Tuesday nights at the Muskegon County Jail to tutor inmates on reading. I have helped raise some serious money over the years for the Johnson Center for Cancer Care in Muskegon, helped the Grand Rapids Home for Vets win a contest a couple of years ago that they got $150,000 for renovations for and received a coin from President Ford's Foundation for that. I have 6 soon to be 9 grand kids and I will be 15 years free of alcohol in August. :) I live a life of true blessings and am very indebted to Muskegon, I came here with nothing...and I live a life now they write movies about.
I hope these answers will suffice, you are always welcome to reply or call. 231-343-7755.
Thanks for your patience waiting for my reply.
Here are those links