Candidate Survey: Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness

The first time I got a survey from Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness, I put it in the “to do” pile and there it stayed until I managed to dig it out and realize it was past due. This happens, unfortunately, sometimes when you’re running a campaign and have dozens of surveys coming in, on top of a number of other responsibilities.

The good news is that they recently sent me another survey for the general election, and I made sure to fill it out and send it in this time. I think the survey speaks for itself, so I’ll just post it here.

MCAH_Survey0001 MCAH_Survey0002 MCAH_Survey0003 MCAH_Survey0004Thank you for reading, and remember that you can contact me with any thoughts or comments by dropping a note in the comments section or emailing me at jderke2014@gmail.com

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Candidate Survey: Business Leaders for Michigan

Greetings, friends!

This survey isn’t as interesting as the last one, but it does cover some important policies. It comes from the Business Leaders for Michigan PAC, a group that, according to their webpage, works toward “making Michigan a ‘Top Ten’ state for jobs, personal income, and a healthy economy.” This survey is to assess a candidate’s alignment with their “Michigan Turnaround Plan.”

There are some good ideas in the plan, and some ideas that I don’t think are as good. I’m not sure what they’ve rated me, and I’m not entirely sure what metric they use, but I hope that my post will help to elucidate my stances on the issues that they’ve raised. I think my comments are important here, because I don’t think that the turnaround plan was all that detailed, so I could only offer provisional support if certain conditions were met, or I couldn’t agree if I thought that there were unanswered questions that needed to be answered.

There are six pages to this survey, which I completed on the internet and printed off. So please, bear with me.

BLM_01 BLM_02 BLM_03 BLM_04 BLM_05 BLM_06Thank you for reading. My long-standing policy still stands: if you have any comments or suggestions, please drop a reply in the comments section or email me at jderke2014@gmail.com

Candidate Survey: Michigan Family Forum

The Michigan Family Forum leaves me feeling conflicted. On the one hand, I support any efforts to strengthen families and resources to help them flourish. On the other, we disagree on many substantive issues. For instance, they submitted an amicus brief to defend Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban. I celebrated, as did many of my fellow Michiganians, when Judge Friedman overturned the ban and declared it unconstitutional. It’s important to note that, in the decision, Judge Friedman noted that the scientific research to date shows that gay and lesbian parents were as good as or better than straight parents, and that the same-sex marriage ban harmed the children by fracturing their families.

Before I get into the survey, or even some more information about the Michigan Family Forum, I’m going to upload some court cases overturning state same-sex marriage bans that I have read, front front to back. I think it’s important for people to see the legal reasoning and case law that goes into these decision, and I think it’s important for people to understand that the marriage bans fail constitutional attacks spectacularly.

7th Circuit Gay Marriage Ruling

Fourth_Circuit_14-1167

State of Colorado

In the Supreme Court of Iowa

Timothy Love, et al v. Steve Beshear

Utah 10th Circuit Ruling

Kentucky-marriage-recognitioin-ruling-2-12-141

MI Gay Marriage Ruling

The problems I have with the Michigan Family Forum are related to my stances on equal rights for all Americans. They narrowly define marriage as “he life-long marriage of one man and one woman.” In states where lesbians and gays have been able to marry and have children they have been able to raise healthy, successful children. They provide stability, and they’re more likely to adopt their children and help to ease the burden on foster systems. In every conceivable metric, gay and lesbian couples provide positive benefits to society, and denying them the right to marry, as explored in the court cases I have posted, actually causes harm.

In several places at their website, you’ll find phrases similar to the following: “State and community leaders must work to ensure that the laws and policies of Michigan work to protect and promote the public health by shielding children from the harms of divorce and unhealthy sexual influences.” It’s hard, generally, to find something to disagree about with this–but that’s the problem. In general, this sounds good, but when you combine it with some of the other things that they say, I have to ask: what do they define as unhealthy sexual influences? I mean, it’s obvious that any person could name any number of sexual things that young children should avoid. But, is it wrong of me to ask if they think that homosexual families are included with their idea of “unhealthy sexual influences”? Because, if so, this general language is actually quite extreme in context and I think that, perhaps, they’re trying to hide that behind vague, ambiguous wording.

I don’t think that’s an unreasonable assumption on my part. And if that is their position, then it flies in the face of the actual data on the matter (see: Lesbian and Gay Parenting (American Psychological Association), Time: Children of Lesbians May Do Better Than Their Peers, here, here, here, and here). The facts are clear: gay and lesbian parents provide care for their children on par with straight couples, raise them just as well or better, and relieve the burden on state foster care systems.

Now, for the survey.

Michigan Family Forum01Michigan Family Forum02In the course of filling out this survey, I made some mistakes that I corrected. I’ve already spoken on some of the issues raised in this survey in previous posts. I’ll speak more about the road funding issue later, as well as the marijuana issue.

I will add some thoughts no a few of the issues in the survey.

Issue 4: I don’t support legislation to extend the waiting periods for divorce, even when minor children are involved. As hard as this is to say, adults should be able to make their own decisions and, furthermore, if you force two people who want to divorce to stay together by enacting waiting periods it could possibly do harm to the children who have to live through that waiting period. If the parents don’t get along, and there are frequent fights (but no domestic violence), that can have a pretty huge impact on children.

Issue 5: The fact is, the state relies on federal matching funds to pay for all kinds of services from a state to local municipal level. Roads, bridges, housing, and all kinds of other federal dollars help to fund projects in states. Adopting an amendment to Michigan’s Constitution to curb the money that can be brought in will, in the end, only increase the costs to Michiganians for our current services without seeing any positive benefits.

Issue 6: I agree with this as a means to curb litter and waste. I’m a conservationist. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Issue 7: A ballot initiative on this subject didn’t pass, but it didn’t lose spectacularly (57%-42%). I think that, given the failure of the Right to Work legislation to produce any measurable benefits for Michigan’s jobs or unemployment numbers (Michigan is tied for 4th place amount states for highest unemployment according to the Bureau of Labor statistics), the mood might have changed. In any case, I’m certainly in favor of overturning the right to work law.

Issue 8: Who pays for this education program, and what are the goals? If the divorcing couple must pay for it, how much will it cost? What if they can’t afford it? What if it puts an huge burden on them? Will you disallow them to get a divorce? Will you use public funding to pay their way?

Issue 10: I have similar concerns about this as I had in issue 8. Who pays, and what if they can’t afford it if they have to pay for it? I mean, they’re trying to claim a tax exemption for already having a child. This doesn’t make much sense as a policy except to try to reduce the number of people claiming the exemption without outright appealing it.

Issue 11: Again, who pays for it?  And who pays for the possible influx of children into the foster system if they choose adoption for their child? Can the foster system handle that many more children?

In the past I might not send a survey like this in, and there are surveys that I will be putting here that I have put aside. However, I’ve really seen the value in being as open and honest as possible about these things.

So, if there’s something on your mind, please leave a comment below or contact me at jderke2014@gmail.com. Please keep it civil and respectful.

Candidate Surveys: MiBank PAC

Today’s candidate survey comes from MiBank PAC, representing the Michigan Bankers Association. I don’t have much experience with banking beyond the normal, but I do pay enough attention to the news to know about issues related to banking. Let’s just jump right into this survey.

MiBankPAC01MiBankPAC02I have notoriously bad handwriting. I’m a lefty, and I broke my left hand when I was younger while playing baseball. It hasn’t quite been the same since. I’ll type out the answers to the questions here.

  1. I have a bachelor degree in English from the University of Michigan, who awarded me a full-tuition scholarship. I am working toward a Master of Science degree. I am currently seeking employment as a certified nurse aide, and have been previously employed as a park ranger. I don’t have much experience in the financial services industry, and therefore lack certain knowledge.
  2. I am a candidate for public office because there is too much money in politics, and elected officials are becoming less accountable to those who vote for them. I want to be a public servant, not a career politician.
  3. I have no previously been appoint or elected to public office.
  4. What are the five key endorsements you are seeking?
    1. Environmental groups.
    2. Labor groups.
    3. Teacher groups.
    4. Health groups.
    5. Civil rights groups.
  5. What are the top three constituencies in your district?
    1. Agriculture / farming.
    2. Labor.
    3. Business.
  6. I do not have any personal or business relationships apart from bank accounts, unfortunately. I would like to learn more.
  7. Given the events of the past decade (too big too fail, sub-prime mortgages, etc.) I’m not sure banks should¬† have less strict regulations and oversight. I’m not unsympathetic, but the economy is still recovering from these events. Regulations and oversight are vital for safe banks and consumer protection.
  8. Obviously, we need to reinvigorate Detroit’s jobs and economy. Tax incentives and other such things might lure tech business and other such industries. Further, we need to better utilize the bright students our world-class universities produce, and then give them incentives to stay here.
  9. It depends on how much revenue would be lost by eliminating the tax and how it would impact the communities in which they operate. I would need more information to make a commitment either way.

To clarify my answer to question eight, by giving students incentives to stay in Michigan, I mean to create an economy that would support them with jobs and a high standard of living. I have had many friends that have left the state to pursue opportunities in other states. Michigan has a bit of a reputation for losing the professionals that go through our universities to other states because those states have more attractive prospects for jobs. I think we can turn that around, but it’s going to take some hard work and investment in Michigan.

The problem I had with this survey was that I didn’t have much room to work with to answer the questions, and the consequence was that I had to truncate my responses. This was actually one of the first surveys I completed, and I think that shows. There’s a pretty huge learning curve the first time you run for office.