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STATE HOUSE/19TH DISTRICT

Birmingham, Bloomfield Township

SAMANTHA STECKLOFF

Democrat


Samantha Steckloff of Farmington Hills is currently state Representative for the 37th District, completing her first term. She earned a political science degree from Purdue University, and previously served on the Farmington Hills City Council.


Abortion ballot issue


Voters will be asked whether they support cementing abortion rights in the Michigan Constitution when they vote this November. How do you plan on voting on this issue? Please explain your answer.


I will be voting yes on this ballot proposal. I believe this medical decision should be between a person and their doctor only. As a breast cancer survivor, I have seen first hand how abortion care is medical care.


Voting rights and policies


Voters will also be asked to establish changes in voting policies, including early voting, absentee voting, and the use of drop boxes. How do you plan on voting on this issue? Please explain your answer.


I support this ballot proposal. I typically vote absentee but in person. You can always go to your local clerk’s office to vote in person, or to drop off your ballot. Many states expand that by offering early voting, where polls are open for 14 days as opposed to one. In 2018 we voted to allow no-reason absentee and same day registration. This amendment preserves and expands ballot access by, among other things, providing nine consecutive days of early voting, protecting and facilitating absentee voting, continuing to allow churches and schools to serve as voting sites, requiring a minimum number of secure drop boxes and prohibiting harassment and intimidation of voters. 


Term limits and transparency


Voters this November will be asked whether they support changes in terms limits and to enact financial transparency regulations for members of the legislature and administration. Are you supporting this ballot issue? Please explain your answer.


Once again, I am in support of this ballot proposal. After the 2020 election we saw many people lose faith in our elections. By requiring all state elected officials to disclose their personal finances, this will make it easier to see whether our elected officials have possible conflicts of interest, that is, whether they are voting in their own personal interests or their constituents’ interests. Michigan ranks last in this type of transparency. It is past time we fix this and restore trust in state government. Term limits would change, but for the better.  A state legislator can currently serve three, two-year terms in the House and two four-year terms in the Senate for a total of 14 years. This means that there is little institutional knowledge among elected officials – especially compared to corporate lobbyists and special interest groups, who hold an imbalance of knowledge and influence. This initiative would reduce the total number of years a legislator could serve to 12 years, but allow all 12 years to be served in one chamber. By allowing longer service in one house, the legislature would regain much of its institutional knowledge. 


Highland Park Water and Sewer debt


Highland Park, a member of the Great Lakes Water Authority, since 2012 has failed to pay for what now amounts to over $54 million in water and sewer debt, which means member communities in Oakland County will be placed in a position to underwrite this debt whether through increased rates for water and sewer or tapping budget reserves to accomplish the same. The state of Michigan has failed to deal with this issue. What do you think should be the solution to this growing problem of a GLWA member community failing to pay for water and sewer services? Please be specific.


I served on Farmington Hills City Council from 2013-2020, so I was working with both GLWA as it was being formed from the Detroit Water Authority, and with Oakland County Water Resources. Frankly, water and sewage rates have spun out of control, and adding this $58 million debt to our residents’ burden is unconscionable. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the ranking member on the Transportation subcommittee, I sought to include an appropriation to pay off this debt. The state currently has a more than $6 billion surplus, from which this debt should have been liquidated. I will continue to fight for the rate payers and I expect a much more positive result from a majority-Democratic House.


2020 presidential election results


Do you accept the presidential election results of 2020 in Michigan? Will you accept the results of the 2022 primary and general election? Explain why or why not.


Yes. Over 100 audits have been done and this was the most secure election ever. I trust my clerks and, of course, will accept the results.


Top five issues


What would you list as your top five issues if elected to this position.


Education: 1. Establish universal pre-K. Increase access to skilled trades by lowering the age of Michigan Reconnect to 21. Create an ultra-low-interest State student loan. Reduce class size to 20. Provide full oversight of charter schools. Provide additional funding to upgrade school facilities. 2. Provide resources including scholarships for students entering the field, student loan forgiveness programs for teachers in the field for five years, tuition reimbursement for certification programs. Include recruitment incentives and bonuses in supplemental budgets, as we have with other struggling professions. Economic Security: The state must invest in additional career opportunities by increasing access to technical programs in our public schools. With raising interest rates and high inflation, the state needs to create programs that alleviate personal debt. Providing paid sick leave and higher minimum wage will allow folks working 40 hours/week to rise from poverty. We should expand Medicaid and create a state health care program so everyone gets affordable and quality health insurance. Finally, we should increase the Earned Income Tax Credit for hard working families and repeal the pension tax. Environment/Energy: We must strengthen and expand polluter pay laws, create grant programs for hazardous waste location cleanup, create stricter PFAS laws and restrictions, and expand our public trust doctrine. For increasing energy efficiency, we must remove the solar cap and allow individuals to sell power back to the grid. We need to go back to net metering and expand programs like Michigan Saves. Health Care and Reproductive Rights: We must protect reproductive rights and codify abortion access into law as this is medical treatment for so many people. We can expand access to health care by creating a public option, lowering prescription drug costs and expanding Medicaid.

ANTHONY PAESANO

REPUBLICAN


Anthony Paesano is a Bloomfield Township attorney and owner of Paesano Akkashian. He received a political science degree from Purdue University and a juris doctor from Detroit Mercy School of Law.


Abortion ballot issue


I strongly believe in protecting innocent life, but I'm not running to be the moral authority on such a personal and religious issue. We need to find common ground, but the radical and extreme constitutional amendment on the ballot is unacceptable. The proposal is extremely confusing and riddled with 43 typos making it even more ambiguous. I don't believe the majority of citizens want abortion at any time during pregnancy. I am open to a discussion about making abortion rare and safe under limited circumstances but would oppose any legislation expanding abortion beyond health of the mother, and rape and incest. 


Voting rights and policies


The only way to ensure confidence in our elections is to make it easy to vote, and hard to cheat.  There is no need for expanded early voting periods or returning of ballots. I support voter ID, updated and verified voter rolls and ballot security. I support any legislation making it a felony to ballot harvest, or to turn in absentee ballots using another person’s name, or any other action that could give rise to fraud. This is fair and has the overwhelming support of Michigan voters. Public polling shows close to 80 percent of Michiganders support voter ID, 58 percent of Black voters, and even 46 percent of Democrats. This should be non-controversial, and it is unfortunate that Democrats are using this issue to scare voters.  Additionally, I support legislation that would prohibit private money funding of elections. No special interest should be funding government-run elections. 


Term limits and transparency


I support the bipartisan initiative launched by former House Speaker Jase Bolger (R), and Mayor Mike Duggan (D), to update term limits and increase transparency of financial disclosures of legislatures to ensure no conflicts of interest. The proposed amendment to the Michigan Constitution would reduce the number of years for House and Senate positions combined from 14 years to 12 years, but legislators could serve those 12 years all in either the House or the Senate, rather than requiring service in both chambers. I support this initiative because, as in any successful business, continuity and limited turnover of personnel is essential in maintaining efficiencies of operation. In addition to announcing the term limit initiative, former Speaker Bolger also announced an initiative requiring Michigan legislators, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State, to report financial ties that could directly or indirectly influence their judgement on legislation. While I fully support transparency in government and avoidance of conflicts in government, and support this initiative specifically, it’s imperative that those advocates for the initiative clearly spell out measures to be taken to prevent the disclosure and spread of such personal information. I don’t believe it is enough – especially in this day of social media attacks and political vitriol, to say that the information would be secured by the government officials or oversight boards. I believe this measure has a way to go before it instills trust in legislators and the public, but it is definitely an initiative, in concept, to get behind.


Legislative bans on education topics


Michigan’s public education system is broken and has been so for decades. The COVID pandemic brought these issues to the forefront, especially with a governor showing a total disregard for family control over educating our children. I support the Let Kids Learn petition which is intended to take the power away from the unions, away from the governor, and put it in the hands of parents, by creating new Student Opportunity Scholarships to pay for educational expenses for tutoring and even tuition at a private school and creating scholarships by giving tax credits to individuals and companies making contributions to scholarship granting organizations. We need to be funding the students, and not the system. Our focus in the classrooms must be on students and families and not special interests. The emphasis must be on academics, particularly STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), as well as vocational skills, so that we are preparing our children for the future. I support expanded access to charter schools and innovative educational opportunities including homeschooling, full-year school, year-round school, and virtual learning. I also support expanding education savings accounts for higher education and allowing interest deductions on student loans. Rather than tenured teachers protected from poor performance, I believe in merit pay that incentivizes teachers to excel in preparing our children. Our schools should be free of politics in the classroom, learning American history based on facts, not political agendas. While I support a balanced examination of history, Critical Race Theory is not the right approach and I oppose any efforts that would introduce these radical concepts to our children.


Highland Park Water and Sewer debt


Ten years ago, the state shut down Highland Park’s water treatment plant due to water quality deficiencies and in turn was placed into the Great Lakes Water Authority on an emergency basis. Since that time, Highland Park has failed to pay for water and sewer services, and instead has relied on other communities, including those in my district, to cover its debt. Recently, the Wayne County Circuit Court held that Highland Park has defaulted under its funding obligations. We cannot allow Highland Park to continue to rely on its neighbors and not meet its obligations. I support any legislation authorizing communities participating in this funding to withhold payments to the GLWA earmarked for contribution to Highland Park’s obligations and instead fund such payments into escrow. Furthermore, there needs to be more aggressive oversight of the GLWA and as citizens contributing to this problem, we should be demanding accountability for those within the GLWA.


2020 presidential election results


Obviously, there are many people who continue to question the outcome of the 2020 election here in Michigan, and in many other states. I don’t think there’s any question that secretaries of state in many key battleground states, including Michigan, used the COVID pandemic to change the election rules in extra-legal ways that benefitted Democrats.Those changes should not be considered the standard, the rules in place for 2018 are the standard and any changes should be done legislatively, not by fiat. In fact, the Michigan State Court of Claims ruled against secretary of state Jocelyn Benson, who issued illegal guidance to clerks that they should presume the accuracy of absentee ballot signatures without verifying them with the signature on file, as required by Michigan law. Additionally, Benson sent absentee ballots to every voter in the state, also in conflict with state law. Absentee ballots are much more susceptible to fraud than in-person voting. Senator Ed McBroom is a respected legislator and it is clear that he spent considerable time and effort investigating the claims made about 2020. His committee conducted nearly 30 hours of public hearings, heard testimony from 87 witnesses, experts and citizens, reviewed over 400 pages of testimony and subpoenaed documents from the secretary of state and Detroit and Livonia. The committee concluded, “the results of the November 2020 General Election in Michigan were accurately represented by the certified and audited results. However, if genuine issues arise from continued investigation, I will not hesitate to ask the committee to consider recommending an audit or amending this report in the future.” I accept the committee’s conclusions and support additional investigations upon the disclosure of evidence of fraud.


Right of redress


I do not support the use of expenditure provisions under these circumstances but I do not believe they should be prohibited outright. We live in a republic where we elect representatives to legislate all aspects of an initiative, and if such an initiative becomes law and we, as citizens, are dissatisfied with the representative’s performance or the law itself, we have the inalienable right to vote that representative out of office.


Top five issues


Education (Special Needs); Small Business Opportunities (Manufacturing and Retail): Infrastructure; Public Safety; Election Integrity.

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