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State House - 54Th District - Democrat



STEPHANIE FAKIH


Stephanie Fakih of Bloomfield Township is founder and principal attorney of Rights First Law PC. She earned her BA in political science from University of Michigan and her JD from Fordham University School of Law. She currently is a Bloomfield Township trustee, involved with Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce, member of the board of Bloomfield Youth Assistance and Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research.


Legislative bans on education topics


In 24 states legislation has been introduced to restrict or outright ban the teaching and/or discussion of certain topics such as race, racism, gender-based issues and how American history is taught in the K-12 public school system. Critics of these efforts to restrict what is taught in public schools say such legislation prevents open inquiry into important issues. Should the state legislature in Michigan dictate or restrict what is taught in public school classrooms? Would you support such legislation? Why or why not? Please be specific in your answer.


In Michigan local school boards are tasked with, among other things, approving recommended curriculum and textbooks based on standards, goals and policies established by the board. It is important these curriculum decisions remain at the local level. Many families often choose to call a place home because of a highly rated school district. Allowing local school boards to approve curriculum and textbooks puts families in control by voting for school board members who represent the ideals important to them.

Legislative ethics/transparency


Michigan continues to rank near the bottom in comparison with other states when it comes to codified ethics and transparency rules for state lawmakers. The Michigan House, during several recent sessions, has approved bills to force disclosure of personal financial information of House and Senate members, along with members of the administration, and in some cases members of the state Supreme Court and university boards, although the Senate has not advanced such bills. Would you support financial disclosure legislation and, if so, are the current bills approved by the House sufficient? Should the disclosed information be publicly available?


When personal financial disclosures are required they provide necessary information to the public about a public official’s financial interests and help ensure that officials are making decisions in the best interest of the public and not for personal financial reasons. Requiring personal financial disclosures can also serve as a reminder for public officials of a potential conflict of interest, allowing them to abstain from making decisions that may be seen as conflicts of interest. The disclosed information should be publicly available to allow a determination of what, if any, conflicts exist.


Term limits for legislators/administration


Do you think the current term limits for House and Senate members are in need of review? Do you support the proposal for term limits that could be on the November ballot which would allow an elected House or Senate member to serve longer terms in either the House or Senate? Why or why not?


Elections can, and do, serve as term limits when voters are mobilized; voters do not have to wait until someone is term limited out of office before replacing them. Extending the terms of Michigan legislators is only a good thing if voters are engaged and want to continue to vote for a representative in the House or Senate.


State budget surplus


The state of Michigan has been running a general fund and school aid fund surplus for two years and is expected to carry over a surplus of $7 billion moving into the budget for fiscal year 2022-2023, which must be adopted by October 1. The surplus has been driven by growing tax revenues and a decline in student population, which reduces spending in that area by about $300 million annually. The budget surplus does not include nearly $15 billion in federal pandemic funding that will be spent over the next several years. A variety of proposals from the administration and the Republican-controlled Senate have been put forth, including tax cuts for both business and individuals. What are your ideas for using the budget surplus for the coming fiscal year’s budget? Be specific.


Michigan needs a huge investment in infrastructure. According to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, Southeast Michigan alone needs an additional $1.2 billion per year for the next 25 years just to get our roads to fair condition. Bonding our way out of this is not sustainable. Michigan’s roads, bridges, water and sewer systems are in disrepair and without a serious influx of money, will never again meet the standards we have come to expect in the United States of America. By investing in Michigan’s infrastructure, we are investing in a better future for our families. Corporations and large companies will finally eye Michigan for their newest facility or office and will gladly come here, without incentives, because of our quality of life and educated, capable workforce. We have to make Michigan viable from a business perspective and the only way to do it is if we get serious about infrastructure; only then will Michigan finally be a national player attracting people to our state, not out of it.


Highland Park water/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.


Highland Park is certainly responsible for the amounts owed to the Great Lakes Water Authority, but we have to ask how Highland Park got to this point. We need to ensure local governments across our state do not find themselves unprepared for the increased cost of water and the necessary capital to maintain water and sewer infrastructure. Federal dollars helped create these systems and federal dollars may be required to help maintain them. Until then, Michigan needs to think seriously about water and sewer infrastructure and a municipalities’ ability to maintain that infrastructure with limited revenue that also pays for other critical services.


Voting law changes


Voters approved no-reason absentee voting and a number of other changes by a wide margin in 2018. There have been several attempts since 2020 to make changes to the election laws, but critics have charged that some of the changes would negatively impact some voters. Do you think further changes to the election laws are needed and if so, what specifically would those changes be? If you do, why do you think so? How would that impact the proposal voters passed in 2018?


Like our government, elections have checks and balances. Michigan’s current voting laws ensure that anyone eligible to vote can vote. If questions arise about an individual’s eligibility to vote, there are mechanisms in place to verify that votes are legally cast. If someone is found to be in violation of our voting laws we have severe criminal penalties to account for that behavior and to deter others from engaging in similar acts.


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.


I accept the presidential election results of 2020 and will accept the results of the 2022 primary and general elections. Elections are handled hyper-locally – your local clerk is in charge of the elections in your city or township. I encourage anyone questioning the veracity of election results to volunteer with their city or township clerk’s office during election season and see that everyday people run our democracy and while it may not be perfect, it is fair and just.


Michigan abortion ban law


In 1931, Michigan legislators adopted a law that banned abortion in the state, based on an 1846 ban that had been in effect. Now with the U.S. Supreme Court preparing to rule and likely overturn Roe v. Wade, some are concerned that the 1931 Michigan law will prevent any abortions here. Do you think the 1931 Michigan act banning abortion should be revised or eliminated to allow for abortions here if Roe V. Wade is overturned? Why or why not?


The 1931 Michigan act banning abortion should be eliminated. Personal freedoms are extremely important to people in this country and that does not change when it comes to a woman’s body and her decision to carry and birth a child. Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land for decades and the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of that decision does not and should not catapult us back to outdated laws. The Michigan legislature should work to ensure women in Michigan have personal autonomy over their bodies.


Right of redress


The Michigan House and Senate have in the past employed seldom used maneuvers to prevent the public from challenging laws that were enacted. Lawmakers accomplish this by attaching an expenditure provision to the legislation which then prevents citizens from petitioning to overturn the law. Citizens in Michigan are allowed referendum rights when it comes to legislation but not laws involving spending. Do you think that such legal maneuvers should be used by the legislature or do such actions diminish the rights of the public to challenge what lawmakers have adopted? What can be done to eliminate such maneuvers on the part of the legislature?


Legislators represent the interests and values of the voting population and should not employ legal maneuvers that diminish the voice of citizens. If the legislature is eager to pass laws that at first glance seem unpopular, the legislature must work on messaging. Explain to citizens why the law is necessary and why it is in their best interest.


Why select you?


Why should voters choose you over your opponent(s) in this contest? Please be specific.


The newly drawn House District 54 is representative of our state as a whole: red and blue and seemingly on different sides of everything. Inflation, shortages of goods, uncertainty about the future – these are serious things happening to all of us, right now. We need leadership to take action and lead us out of these problems, together. As a criminal defense attorney I work everyday between stakeholders that have seemingly different end games, but I know this is never the case. I know how to build relationships to get things done and I am ready to do that in Lansing. I am going to Lansing to remind lawmakers we are not in competition with each other, but in competition with other states. We can and should better the lives of Michigan residents. We have everything in this state that we need, we just need the leadership to put it together. I am that leadership.


GARY GERSON


Gary Gerson is principal of Bloomfield Educational Consultants. Gerson, a resident of Bloomfield Township, has a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and a master’s in education from Grand Canyon University. He is a friend of Bloomfield Township Public Library.


Legislative bans on education topics


Teachers must teach the truth. History teachers must be allowed to present factual accounts of history even if those truths are painful. English teachers must be allowed to tackle subjects that might be controversial. We must trust our teachers and administrators to decide what is age-appropriate and necessary for curricular development as needs evolve. Legislating limitations is insular and short-minded, and I do not support such legislation. Efforts to restrict open inquiry are bad for our kids, our state, and our educational system. Buzzwords such as “critical race theory” can be divisive, and I prefer the term “culturally relevant teaching” as it affirms students’ ethnic and racial backgrounds and is the basis for critiquing the causes of social inequality on personal levels. I taught high school for 26 years and know that teachers need to be in charge of their curricula. This is about supporting our good teachers.


Legislative ethics/transparency


Public servants need to show their sources of income and be transparent in their financial dealings. It seems obvious that the Michigan public has impressions that many politicians, judges, and board members have conflicting interests that may compromise their decision-making. While this may not be true in many or even most cases, the perception exists. Michigan is one of only two states that doesn’t require public disclosure of finances. So no, current legislation is insufficient, and I do support House Bill 4062. Previous efforts have been approved by ethics committees so it is a mystery as to why they have stalled. It is time for financial disclosure.


Term limits for legislators/administration


I’m learning that six total years for a state rep is not a lot of time, politically speaking. It would seem that once a representative gets used to the way things work in Lansing, that rep is then finished with the term. I do agree with term limits, but I would rather the state rep’s years be studied more closely. The proposal seems sound, allowing a longer term in either the House or the Senate if one stays in either one or the other, which makes sense to me. I would like to see how the “combination” statute would work and if that needs further tweaking.


State budget surplus


With inflation now in the works and a recession looming, I do approve of the governor’s plan to refund some of the money directly to the people, and I am also in favor of a proposed tax break to further put money into the taxpayer’s hands and further into the Michigan economy. But thinking outside of that box, I would like to see more of the surplus going into the study of, and provisions for, Michiganders who are the victim of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. There needs to be an influx of funds into this arena as kids (and adults) with FASD are underrepresented in the current budget and underserved in the welfare system. I want money to go into specialized housing and training centers to help keep those with alcohol-related neurological disorders out of jail (they make up perhaps one-third of those incarcerated).


Highland Park water/sewer debt


It is clear that member communities in Oakland County have already been subsidizing Highland Park’s long-overdue water bill. This needs to stop, and any funds that come from member communities should indeed be placed in escrow rather than paid directly to the Great Lakes Water Authority. A judge has ruled that Highland Park should pay their bill, and I agree that they should. I’m saddened that Highland Park residents have been paying for their water but that the funds have not gone to the GLWA. I know that Highland Park has suffered economically, but they have to find a way to budget for clean water for their residents who are already paying for it. Highland Park must pay that bill.


Voting law changes


The only voter law changes that I see necessary are those that protect the voters and allow every single vote to be counted by any means necessary. I think the approved votes from 2018 should be supported completely. As for other changes, many of the recent “suggestions” are derived from a limited population that still believes the myth of voter fraud by our previous president and others. Those suggestions are ludicrous and limiting, seemingly counter to the 2018 mandates. Leave voter laws alone unless they are aimed at protecting each voter and his/her vote.


2020 presidential election results


There was no fraud. There was no “steal.” Michigan’s voting reputation is just fine as it is, and I will accept the primary and general election results. This panic about voter fraud needs to go away.


Michigan abortion ban law


As I am writing this response, Governor Whitmer has already begun the process of dismissing the 1931 act. Assuming Roe v Wade is overturned, abortion rights will fall to the state. We are in good shape now to keep women’s reproductive rights legal, but we must also aim for the future when subsequent governments might disagree. It is now our responsibility as legislators to overturn this law and revise Michigan’s constitution to completely support abortion rights for women. Their bodies, their choices.


Right of redress


Citizens have a right to petition and I don’t want to see that right compromised by additional provisions of any sort. I would like to study which maneuvers have come into play and what referendum rights have been compromised. Any system of challenge to lawmakers’ adoptions should be honored as long as laws and the constitution are not violated. I would study this to see how these adoptions have been used unethically and work to reverse them if they are not appropriate. I would consult experts if necessary, including the American Civil Liberties Union, to see if this fits their agenda as well.


Why select you?


My Democratic primary opponents are both brilliant and accomplished. That being said, my knowledge base is quite broad, and that makes me a firmer representative for our district’s population. I have wide experience in advanced education, specialized education, IEP’s, learning challenges, curriculum development, private schools, public schools, science education, scientific inquiry, global warming and the greenhouse effect, foster care, adoption subsidies, Children’s Special Health, business development, the gig economy, world travel, textbook development, being an author, graphs and data, religious studies, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, AIDS education, the arts, and youth sports. There is no substitute for experience, and I was a lead teacher, a curriculum director, a head coach, and president of the faculty council. I developed my own business. I wrote five books. I thrive at building understanding and cohesion. I have education and children in the forefront of my platform.


SHADIA MARTINI


Shadia Martini of Bloomfield Township owns Martini Construction, Great Estate Realty and Pigalle Salon. She has a degree in architectural engineering from Aleppo University and an MBA from University of Michigan. She is involved with National Association of Builders, National Association of Realtors, Muslim Unity Center, and on the board of Syrian American Council and Arab American Center for Economic and Social Services.


Legislative bans on education topics


I oppose efforts to restrict or ban the teaching of issues surrounding race, gender, and history in our classrooms. In Syria, where I grew up, our curriculum was controlled by the government. We were lied to about history and about the world around us, to the benefit of the dictatorship. America is a free democracy, our children should be able to learn about critical issues without impediments or restrictions imposed by politicians with biased agendas.

Legislative ethics/transparency Michigan is only one of two states in the entire country that does not require state lawmakers to disclose financial interests. The supposed bipartisan transparency legislation advanced through the state House is not actually transparent. Financial disclosures by legislators would not be made available to the public, only to a secret committee exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. Public disclosure is mandated in dozens of states, and it should be mandated in Michigan just the same. The current legislation is not sufficient.


Term limits for legislators/administration


The proposal on the November ballot regarding term limits, if passed, would still make Michigan one of the states with one of the strictest term limit rules for state legislatures in the country. I will support either outcome that Michigan voters choose in November.


State budget surplus


I support Governor Whitmer’s proposal to offer a $500 tax rebate to working families rather than the proposed long-term tax cuts in the Senate. Michigan’s economic future is uncertain due to inflation, the continued economic impact of the pandemic, and supply chain issues. A recession may be looming on the horizon – we need to think beyond the short-term while still offering sensible relief to Michigan families.


Highland Park water/sewer debt


Residents of Oakland County should not be responsible for the city of Highland Park’s neglect, plain and simple. Now, a sewage rate hike is set to hit GLWA communities, in part due to Highland Park’s debt. I support Governor Whitmer’s request that the rate increase incurred due to Highland Park be paused and the proposal for an independent audit that will answer critical questions concerning the debt.


Voting law changes


Michigan voters voted overwhelmingly to make voting easier and more accessible. Current proposals to help “secure the vote” are spurred by election conspiracies from 2020 and are designed solely to make it harder for marginalized groups to vote. I believe in continuing to reflect the will of Michigan voters in 2018 and maintaining our current election laws.


2020 presidential election results


I accept the results of the 2020 election in Michigan and I will accept the results of the 2022 primary and general election. I grew up in Syria, a country where only one candidate was allowed on the ballot for president. I know what fraudulent elections look like: no such thing occurred in Michigan.


Michigan abortion ban law


The archaic 1931 law banning abortion should be eliminated. Left as it was written, the law bans virtually all abortions except for those conducted to protect the life of the mother. The right to choose must be protected – an almost 100 year old law that does not even contain rape or incest exceptions does not belong in the 21st century.


Right of redress


The legislature should not intentionally prevent Michiganders from challenging enacted legislation – this is unequivocally an infringement of guaranteed rights. Attaching extraneous expenditure provisions with clear intent to block the public from challenging legislation should be disallowed.


Why select you?


I’ve lived under dictatorship and democracy. I’ve been a worker and a small business owner. My unique life experiences have allowed me to see both sides of the coin. I’m so appreciative of the right to political participation, something that I could have never imagined growing up in a country like Syria where one negative word about the government could land you in prison. I’ve embraced my newfound rights to the fullest extent. Since the outbreak of the war in Syria in 2011, I’ve been an outspoken human rights advocate at the state and national level, meeting with legislators on both sides of the aisle to fight for civilians under siege. I was a leader in the effort to get the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 passed and signed into law. Beyond my decade of advocacy

experience, I’ve been a southeast Michigan small business owner and real estate broker for over two decades. I’m ready to bring my business know-how and my grassroots advocacy experience to Lansing to fight for working families and to promote sensible pro-growth economic policy.

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