Rochester, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township voters will be deciding among candidates in the November 6 general election for a variety of congressional, state and county political offices, along with determining the fate of several state ballot issues, either at the polls or with absentee ballots.
Downtown newsmagazine, through questionnaires, queried candidates on a variety of issues, the answers to which can be found in the special Voter Guide online at downtownpublications.com or in our October issue. We also met one-on-one over the course of the summer with most candidates seeking state or congressional offices to gain added insight into office seekers.
The results of our efforts, along with our institutional knowledge of people and issues, provided the basis for the following endorsements, which we first published in our October issue for the benefit of absentee ballot voters.
8th Congressional District – Two-year term
Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township
The Eighth Congressional District is one of the wonders of gerrymandering, running through Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township and the north Oakland area, then dipping into Livingston County and meandering into Ingham County, including East Lansing. The incumbent in this district, Republican Mike Bishop, first followed his father, Don Bishop, into the state legislature, serving in the state House from 1999-2002, then was elected to the state Senate where he served from 2002-2010. His record in Lansing left a lot to be desired. In Congress, starting in 2015, he spent his first term toeing the party line, opposing Obama programs. In his second term, he has become one of Trump's disciples, rolling back environmental protections, women's health care rights, health care for the population at large, just to name a few of our concerns. In short, Bishop appears to have forgotten who he represents while in office, a malady that can affect some who have been at the public trough for too long. His opponent this year, Democrat ELISSA SLOTKIN, has returned to her family's farm in Holly as a third-generation Michigander. Slotkin finished grad school in New York after the 9/11 attacks on our country and spent five years in Iraq as part of the CIA. She then spent time in defense/intelligence positions in the White House under both Presidents Bush and Obama, and as a result, knows the ins and outs of DC. Without a doubt, Slotkin knows the issues and can work both sides of the aisle. Most important, she has established the framework for listening to the concerns of district residents and will maintain that approach in Congress. Voters should make the switch and go with Slotkin.
11th Congressional District – Two-year term
(Part of Rochester Hills, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills)
Democrat HALEY STEVENS impressed us greatly when she first announced in 2017 for this congressional seat. A Millennial who has brought her government and private enterprise experience home, Stevens grew up in Birmingham, picked up undergraduate/graduate degrees, went to work as chief of staff of President Obama’s Auto Rescue Task Force effort and worked for the White House Office for Manufacturing and Office of Recovery for Automotive Communities and Workers. She cut her teeth, so to speak, helping to shepherd though the necessary components of the auto bailout through members of both parties in Congress and members of the business community. She has also spent time working in the private sector tied to job training and digital manufacturing. Bright, energetic, focused, with a good command of the issues. Her opponent in this race – a Trump acolyte whose blind allegiance doesn’t show through her deceptively shallow and evasive answers in our Voter Guide, no doubt on advice of her handlers who can read Trump’s disapproval polls. Congress is supposed to be part of the checks and balance system in government and we already have enough Trump handmaidens in DC who don’t understand their proper role.
12th State Senate District – Four-year term
(Oakland Township, north Oakland area, Bloomfield Township)
When he first ran for the state House we did not support Michael McCready, although in two elections since, we have backed him as a more moderate Republican who kept in touch with officials in the district and was not afraid to buck the party on some issues. Unfortunately, we wish he would have broken more often from the party line, especially on key issues, like the environment and civil rights, to name just two. We understand the legislative game as well as anyone – in the caucus setting the best of intentions can get dealt away. But then again, perhaps McCready is just following his own personal beliefs which then raises the issue of whether he is in sync with district residents. Either way, a change is necessary. With both legislative chambers and the administration under Republican control, there has been a lack of progress in some areas and outright decline on issues of importance for the future of the state. His opponent in this race, Democrat ROSEMARY BAYER, is keenly focused on public policy in the state that needs a new direction and will not hesitate to push for that. Bayer has the necessary skills, honed through her experience in the high tech industry and business, to work with others to bring about change and is well grounded on the issues. We were impressed and voters will be too.
13th State Senate District – Four-year term
(Rochester, Rochester Hills, Birmingham)
Incumbent Republican MARTY KNOLLENBERG is seeking his second Senate term after having served in the past as a Representative in the state House. This district also includes Troy, Clawson and Royal Oak. Knollenberg has been a focused policy maker in the area of education and has worked equally hard in other legislative areas. Knollenberg, in touch with officials and residents of the district, has earned another term.
45th State House District – Two-year term
(Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township)
Republican incumbent MICHAEL WEBBER is seeking his third term in the state House. He is a solid conservative who knows and understands the district, having lived in Rochester Hills for 28 years, and served on the Rochester Hills City Council before heading to Lansing, and he can often be found in his home district. We would love to see him take a leadership role on key issues in his final term in the House.
11th District County Commission – Two-year term
(Auburn Hills, Rochester Hills, Troy)
This open commission seat would be best filled by Republican Thomas E. Kuhn. Kuhn, an attorney, has a long history of service to the community, as a Royal Oak commissioner to 12 years as a trustee of Oakland Community College. His dedication to the area and critical issues will allow him to represent the district and the county as a whole.
15th District County Commission – Two-year term
(Rochester, Rochester Hills)
Republican incumbent commissioner ADAM KOCHENDERFER has impressed us since he was a Rochester Hills city council member, and as a county commissioner, he continues to work hard for the people of his district. With reasonable viewpoints and a measured approach, he is an asset to the board of commissioners.
State Ballot Issues
Proposal 1 – Marijuana Legalization
Michigan may well join a growing number of states allowing recreational use of marijuana if voters give their approval in this general election. No citizen-initiated ballot issue is perfect but drafters of this issue have done a reputable job of writing the rules and restrictions surrounding recreational pot use. Vote YES. Let’s hope officials in Lansing don’t take eight years to implement voter wishes, like they did with medical marijuana.
Proposal 2 – Redistricting amendment
This amendment to the Michigan Constitution would address the political gerrymandering that for decades has allowed whatever party is in power to redraw political districts to their advantage so they continue to remain in power. The proposal essentially creates a more independent commission that would redraw districts every 10 years following a federal census. Vote YES.
Proposal 3 – Voting Regulations
This proposal would amend the state Constitution to provide for, among other things, ‘no-reason’ absentee ballots, same day registration, restoring straight ticket voting and several other voting items, all designed to expand voting ability and enshrine these voting issues to protect against voter suppression efforts by lawmakers. Vote YES.
City of Rochester
The city of Rochester is seeking to amend its charter to lift the threshold of expenditure and purchase procedures for approvals for competitive bids from $2,000, where it was put in place in 1965, to $15,000. That seems very reasonable to us. Vote YES.