About Josh


My name is Josh DerkJoshe. 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 MicJosh_footballhigan, 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 jderke2014@gmail.com.



5 thoughts on “About Josh

  1. Thank you Josh, thank you for speaking up, for your brother and for me. I wish my brothers would do the same. We love all our brothers and want the same for them and for ourselves. Unfortunately, that is not reality for some. It is a shame. We need to move forward!

  2. I just read your reply to *ahem* Mr. Delgaudio about the survey he and his minions sent you and all I can say sir is that it is truly inspiring! I am a Christian and you describe what I believe is how Jesus was trying to teach us to treat each other. ‘Love each other as I have loved you’. You aptly described the survey as a pile of excrement and one must rid ourselves of such uncleanliness. If I lived in Michigan I would not only vote for you, I would help work on your campaign. But alas I live in Iowa where we have our own problems with the likes of Joni Ernst, a Koch’s brothers disciple. Lord have mercy on us! Good luck and God bless you! Sincerely, Kris McLure

  3. Blessings on your campaign. i was thrilled to read your response to Eugene Delgaudio. As an openly Gay married christian minister I could not have been as polite as you were. I grew up in Michigan and you make me proud to call it home. I wish you much success in November. I hope to be able to send you a letter in Washington someday!

  4. If your response to Delgaudio is any example of your creative writing skills, your hobby may well lead you to a paying job in future if this election doesn’t go in your favor. I hope, though, that you will be spending a few years serving the public in Michigan for they sorely need someone like you in office. I am Mexican and live in Mexico so cannot vote for you or support your campaign but send you my very best wishes. Your Mexican ancestors would be proud of the man you have become.

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