My name is Josh Derke. I am a native Michiganian with deep roots in central Michigan. I was born in Lansing in 1987, and grew up on the North Side until I was ten years old. I moved to Bath Township with my mother Julia, my father Barry, and my brother Justin. A few years later we moved to DeWitt Township, where my father became a volunteer firefighter.
My father’s family has been in Bath for many generations, and the Derke name has become associated with farming during that time. My great-grandmother, Otellia Nichols, is a survivor of the Bath School Disaster of May 18, 1927. My grandfather, Donald Derke, was Bath’s 1960 State Championship basketball team. I grew up working on my grandfather’s farm, where he grew corn. I learned how to operate the equipment at an early age, my favorite being the John Deere 50 that we used to operate the elevator that transported the corn from wagon to silo, and later, silo to semi.
On my mother’s side, my grandfather, Ramon Lira, Jr., is a native of Texas who moved, with his family, to Michigan when he was eight years old. He was born in the town of Eagle Pass while his father, Ramon Lira, Sr., was fighting in Italy during the Second World War. It was there that he, after being injured and receiving a Purple Heart, earned his American citizenship.
My grandfather, Ramon, and much of my family are associated with labor and unions. Working for much of his life at General Motors, my grandfather made an honest living and was able to provide for not only his wife and children, but also his grandchildren. My uncle and campaign treasurer, Joel Gutzki, works for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
I graduated from Bath High School in 2006 with high honors. I applied to the University of Michigan, and with their acceptance I received a Scholar Recognition Award and a full-tuition scholarship for academic accomplishment and scholarly potential. I graduated from U of M with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Language and Literature in 2011. Afterwards, I decided to pursue a career in medicine and set out to get the experience and knowledge I would need to, one day, attend one of the prestigious Physician Assistant programs in Michigan. I am certified as a Nurse Aide, and am currently seeking employment in one of mid-Michigan’s hospitals as well as running this campaign for the State House.
In 2011 I volunteered for the campaign of President Barack Obama in Ann Arbor, and worked to register voters and talk to them about the issues. Throughout my time in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, I participated in volunteerism for various groups. I have tutored students from high school to college on topics including math, science (biology, chemistry, and physics), English, and history.
I am an avid reader, and possess a personal book collection numbering over 400 volumes. My long-time girlfriend, Anastasia Klimchynskaya, is currently attending the University of Pennsylvania and working toward attaining a PhD. Among my other interests are baseball (go Tigers!), and I practice the art of creative writing.
I am seeking your support because I believe that Michigan has a lot of potential. A lot of my peers—those in my generation—have moved to other states to find better jobs and other opportunities. I believe in Michigan, and I think that we can work together to craft policies that encourage our best and brightest young people to stay in the state, from properly funding education to making sure our commitment to maintaining the state’s transportation and technology infrastructure is secure. I want to work to change the tone of politics in Lansing, and further work to try to reduce the influence of money and lobbyists on our public discourse.
I am asking for your vote because I believe that the “citizen legislator” is desperately needed over career politicians who don’t always work to the benefit of their constituents, and who move through the revolving door that separates political service and working as a lobbyist or working at a think tank. I want to serve the public and then move on to my other goals, and if elected, work to make the tough decisions that career politicians are afraid to make. I am an advocate of science-based policy, and am against the practice of passing laws on a legislative level that disallow citizen ballot initiatives.
Thank you for taking the time to get to know me a little better. If you have any questions about me, or where I stand on various issues, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.