STATE HOUSE - 40TH DISTRICT
Manoogian, a Birmingham resident, attended undergrad and graduate school at George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs. She was the program officer in the Office of English Language Programs, and Digital Engagement Officer, Office of eDiplomacy, both at the U.S. State Department.
Michigan has a rich history of protecting of the environment but in recent years there have been several legislative attempts to restrict the DEQ when it comes to rule-making to implement laws of the state, including the now pending legislation that would place control of future rule-making with an appointed committee comprised of special interests, including factions of the business community. There has long been a realization that the DEQ is underfunded in terms of being able to carry out its mission of protecting the quality of life in the state. Do you agree with the recent attempts to curtail the DEQ? Do you feel that more funding needs to be allocated to the DEQ for enforcement purposes?
I disagree strongly with recent attempts to curtail the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. This agency is critical to ensuring Michiganders are healthy and safe, and that our natural resources remain for generations to come. We should be relying on scientists and public servants for staffing this rule making agency, not corporate polluters and CEOs who have a financial interest in how the rules are made. I support increasing resources for the DEQ, so that they can fully ensure a healthy and safe Michigan.
Because Congress has failed to act on proposed increased regulation of gun ownership, a number of states have taken the initiative to address the issue. Should Michigan be taking the lead on the gun control? Would you support requiring expanded background checks? Background checks at gun shows? Banning bump stocks? Raising the age on the purchase of weapons? Banning military style weapons? Red flag laws?
I support implementing common sense gun laws in Michigan that will keep our communities safe. I am proud to have earned a Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate Distinction. On student walkout day, I spoke at the Capitol in Lansing, and advocated for red flag legislation at our state representative’s office hours. I support expanding background checks, including requiring background checks at gun shows. I firmly believe that weapons of war have no place in our communities, and bump stocks or other modifications to firearms to make them automatic should be made illegal. I support red flag legislation that takes into account civil liberties, but also ensures an individual will not be able to harm themselves or others. I do not believe arming teachers is the answer to making our schools safer. I will advocate for increased funding to ensure schools across Michigan are able to take proper safety precautions.
While the state has announced that $175 million will be disbursed this year for road and bridge repairs, do you feel that is sufficient while we wait three more years for the road funding proposal to finally kick in? Should the state rainy day fund be tapped in the interim, as some have suggested?
We know that $175 million is insufficient for road funding; some estimates put the amount at $2 billion annually to adequately fund road and infrastructure repairs. Waiting for three more years to repair our roads is untenable. This is costing Michiganders across our district, and indeed our state, an average of $700 in repairs per year. It is estimated that our state will have a budget surplus between $279 million and $348 million. This money should not be allocated to the rainy day fund; it must be used to begin the much needed repairs to our county and local roads.
CHARTER SCHOOL REFORMS
Michigan has developed a reputation as one of the most deregulated school environments in the country, with the largest number of charter schools – 80 percent of which are for-profit ventures. Charter schools were originally billed as a cure for declining student achievement and inequality, but a number of reports in the last few years show that 70 percent of the state’s charter schools are in the lower rungs of student achievement reviews. Lawmakers in Lansing, however, have on more than one occasion rejected tightening the overview of charter schools and have allowed for their continued growth. Should there be more state control over charter schools for performance and finances? Does the ongoing expansion of charter schools threaten the public schools K-12 system that we have relied on for education?
Yes, the ongoing expansion of charter schools has negatively impacted our K-12 public school system. We must take the profit motive out of educating our children. I support capping the number of schools that can be chartered in any given year. Presently, charter schools are able to use taxpayer dollars, but are not subject to the same transparency laws that local schools and school boards must be compliant with. I will champion legislation that will ensure transparency wherever our public dollars are spent on education. Given our state’s struggles with meeting third-grade literacy standards, and falling test scores, underfunding our local schools is not the answer to the question of how to build a Michigan that is prepared for the 21st century.
What is your position on the marijuana legalization proposal appearing on the November ballot?
I support the legalization of marijuana. By legalizing marijuana, our state can regulate and tax it, similar to how alcohol is regulated, and we can conduct better research on its impacts. Additionally, the legalization of marijuana is also a civil rights issue, given that criminal enforcement disproportionately impacts low-income communities and communities of color. While other states have made marijuana legal with some net positives and some challenges, our state has the opportunity to get it right.
Although Michigan has 1973 Act (196) to regulate conduct of public officials, it is considered less than rigorous when it comes to legislative ethics and transparency, leaving Michigan ranked near the bottom in comparative studies with other states. Would you support financial disclosure by state lawmakers? What about including the governor’s office and the legislature when it comes to the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, from which they are now exempt? Would you support a bill that prohibits “Pay to Play” when it comes to lawmakers approving contracts with companies or people who are campaign contributors? Are there any other areas that need to be addressed if we are to strengthen ethics/transparency laws/rules in Michigan as they apply to the legislature and administrative offices?
As a former U.S. Department of State program officer, I strongly support strengthening Michigan’s ethics and transparency laws. I support financial disclosure by lawmakers and expanding Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the legislature and governor’s office. This will allow lawmakers to provide much needed oversight and a check on the executive branch. Additionally, I support prohibiting “Pay to Play” regarding lawmakers approving contracts with companies or people who are campaign contributors. Ethics and transparency laws should also be extended to the MDEQ, and other agencies operating in the executive branch. I also support increased transparency with regard to any taxpayer-funded expenditure, including public dollars that are spent on charter schools.
Are you pro-life or pro-choice? If you are pro-life, are there any exceptions to prohibitions on abortions that you find acceptable? Explain your position on this issue.
I support a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions. The choices a woman makes regarding her health should be between her and her doctor.
CODIFYING CIVIL RIGHTS
Should the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act be amended to extend civil rights protections in housing and employment to include sexual orientation? Why or why not?
Every Michigander must be considered equal under the law, therefore the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act should be amended to extend civil rights protections to every citizen regardless of sexual orientation. I applaud the decision of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission to extend the definition of the word, “sex” to sexual orientation and gender identity with regard to Elliott-Larsen via a regulation. However, we must take steps to amend Elliott-Larsen to ensure Michigan is inclusive under the law, in the event a future MCRC repeals the regulation.
Why should a voter choose you over an opponent on the ballot?
I was born and raised in Birmingham and it’s the place I’ve called home for my entire life. I’m proud to be this district’s hometown candidate. Over the years, I’ve been a Harlan Hare, a BCS Cobra and a Seaholm Maple – and I believe it really does matter that the leaders we elect to represent us in government can understand our district. I’m proud to have a diverse record of public service experience from my time in the Office of Congressman John Dingell to working with Ambassador Samantha Power at the United Nations, to representing America abroad at the State Department and the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. After eight years of Governor Rick Snyder and an incredibly long 20 months of President Donald Trump, it’s clear that the experiment of electing leaders with no experience in government has failed Michigan. Democrats shouldn’t follow down that same failed path.
Wolkinson lives in Birmingham and is a small business owner. He served as Gov. Snyder's policy director and administrative vice chairman of the Michigan Republican Party. He has undergrad, masters, and a law degree from University of Michigan.
In 2010, I served as policy director for Gov. Rick Snyder’s gubernatorial campaign. I met with business leaders, environmentalists and other stakeholders throughout the state. Under the Granholm administration, the single most complained about state agency was the DEQ. Governor Snyder came into office determined to roll back what he viewed as an overly aggressive DEQ and given the nature of this question, it appears he was quite successful in doing so. There has been no greater failure of this administration than the Flint water disaster. That disaster (shamefully, totally manmade) reminds us why strong environmental regulations are so important (they are literally of life and death importance.) With that said, I would be very wary of swinging the pendulum in the other direction. It is important that we be conservative about considering new regulations or stricter enforcement of current ones absent a compelling reason otherwise.
I believe very strongly in the Second Amendment. Our right to bear arms is entrenched in our Constitution. However, our recent history of gun violence has made it clear that we need to be more effective in getting guns out of the hands of those that are severely mentally ill and are prone to violence. I do not think that all, or even most, of our horrible gun violence can be solved with new legislation, but it is clear that certain perpetrators of these horrendous crimes (like the young man in the recent Parkland shooting) should never have had access to the guns that he did. He had demonstrated mental incapacity to possess weapons and an eagerness to commit violence. If legislation were proposed to increase the effectiveness of background checks and it was narrowly tailored, so as not to infringe on the rights of law abiding Americans, I would support it.
$175 million is not sufficient. Our roads are in serious disrepair. While I would support legislation to use money from the rainy day fund, my first priority would be to fight for our district’s fair share of the current road money being spent. We are the biggest donors to the state (as far as House districts go). In Oakland County, we only get back some 70 cents on the dollar of what we send to Lansing – in the 40th district it is even lower. Thankfully we are the wealthiest district in the state, but the formula for road money does not account for either a) how much we disproportionately send to Lansing for the entire state’s benefit; b) being the economic and social engine of the metro Detroit region, how much our roads are driven on. The bottom line is that Oakland County (and the 40th district in particular) do not get our fair share of road revenue based on the current formulas and the next state representative needs to fight for our fair share.
CHARTER SCHOOL REFORMS
The idea behind charter schools having less accountability than traditional public schools is that no one is obliged to attend a charter school. Public schools in our district are for the most part fantastic, but there are other places (like the city of Detroit) where plenty of parents failed their kids are trapped in a failing system. Charter schools were created to give parents more choices. Unlike traditional public schools, if a charter school is failing then the parents have the option of pulling their child out. This is an inherent accountability that does not exist at traditional public schools. With that said, the state funds a major part of every student’s public education dollars. If charter schools are failing, then it would be appropriate to consider tougher oversight of those failing schools.
Let the people decide. The people are smarter than Lansing politicians. As William F Buckley once said, “I’d rather be governed by the first thousand names in the phone book than the Harvard faculty.” I think the people have been way ahead of the politicians throughout the marijuana legalization process. I have great confidence in the people and will support whatever decision they make.
Yes, I believe that there is a deep deal of insider dealing in Lansing and there are a number of reforms that I would support to hopefully transform this negative/corrupt culture. This is most prevalent when one examines the state’s economic development efforts. Simply put, investing is hard, it is not easy (I do it for a living) it is not the role of state bureaucrats (or legislatures for that matter) to speculate as to what the next economic “growth” area will be. Our economic development efforts should be narrowed to providing a safe secure place to invest, top flight infrastructure and fantastic educational systems. It is not the role of the state to invest in private enterprise (directly or through the tax system). Predicting winners and losers should be left to private citizens and I think draining Lansing of this money will clean up the ethical environment in state government.
I am pro-life.
CODIFYING CIVIL RIGHTS
Yes. Same gender loving couples (LGBTs) and all Michiganders deserve the same housing and employment rights. This is past due. No one should be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Of course, there must be robust protections of our religious freedoms (no church or synagogue should ever be forced to violate their beliefs) but extending Elliot Larsen to the LGBT community should be done immediately.
I am a businessman. I have built up a small but successful real estate management company in the last five years. I know how economies work and I have deep experience in public policy from my years of activism in the Republican Party and my service as Governor Snyder’s policy director. I think I am the candidate with the best combination of energy and experience to fight for what matters to voters in the district. I know how government works and I want to fight for more money for our roads, more dollars in the classroom and to make Michigan the best place to live, work and raise a family.