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STATE HOUSE/5TH DISTRICT

Birmingham, Bloomfield Township, Bloomfield Hills

NATALIE PRICE

Democrat


Natalie Price is a Berkley city council member, and was previously Berkley Citizens Engagement Advisory Committee Chair. She has a bachelor's degree from Vassar College and a master's degree from University of Exeter in the UK, both in English and critical theory. She has been active in Sierra Club, Equality Michigan and co-creator of Backyard Playroom.


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 support reproductive freedom. Denying people access to legal and safe abortions will cost lives and disproportionately harm people in historically marginalized communities. Access to legal and safe abortion care is an essential element of access to affordable quality healthcare, which all people deserve.


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.


When more people participate, our democracy gets stronger. Voters strengthened our democracy when they amended our state constitution in 2018 to enable no-reason absentee voting and required automatic voter registration. I support such changes that empower more eligible voters to participate and will fight against any changes to election laws that limit participation in our democratic process.


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.


Under the constitutional amendment that is proposed for the November ballot, voters will have the opportunity to decide whether to allow lawmakers to serve 12 years overall in Lansing, spending potentially their entire time in the House or Senate or dividing the years between the two chambers. I support this proposal because I understand that the existing law (which limits members of the state House to three two-year terms and members of the state Senate to two four-year terms) does not allow enough institutional knowledge to accumulate for optimal leadership in either of these bodies. As a city council member, I am subject to much stricter standards of ethics and transparency than my state representatives. My communications related to all city-related business are subject to the Freedom of Information Act. I also follow a clear policy that requires me to disclose any possible conflicts of interest before I take action or vote on any related matters. Our state lawmakers, members of the administration, and members of the state Supreme Court and university boards should, at the very least, be required to meet the same standards of ethics and transparency as our municipal leaders. If personal financial information has the potential to impact a state leader’s action or vote, disclosure must be required. I am in support of the constitutional amendment which will require statewide officials to file financial disclosure, putting Michigan in line with what 48 other states and Congress already require.


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.


I will not support any legislation that attempts to dictate or restrict what is taught in public school classrooms. As a former teacher and as a mom of two elementary-age students, I know that kids need to be able to discuss race, racism, gender, sexuality, and the difficult realities of our nation’s history in order to learn how to navigate the world in which we live with kindness, compassion, empathy and the ability to make a positive difference.


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.


The state of Michigan is responsible for this issue and should foot the bill for it. Before 2012, Highland Park had its own water processing facility. The state shut it down and required that Highland Park participate in GLWA on an emergency basis with the promise of a remediation plan for fixing its facility. This “emergency basis” continued for a decade with water rates that Highland Park clearly could not afford. This situation is indicative of a bigger issue of our state’s failure to provide adequate support to our municipalities. Conflicting tax laws (Prop A and Headlee) improperly restrict how local governments can collect the money they need. The state has also diverted $8.6 billion in revenue sharing away from our cities. This has cost Highland Park alone $17,083,580 since 2002. We must fix this broken system in order to give all our cities the resources they need to provide essential services to our residents.


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. We have a safe and secure election process, and the attempts to sow mistrust about the voting process since 2020 are a direct attack on our democracy. We must counteract fear with facts in order to sustain and increase participation in our election process. When more people participate, our democracy gets stronger.


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?


Our Constitution says that voters may hold a referendum on any bill passed by the Legislature only as long as there is no money expended. The intent was to prevent a situation in which the state would need to take back money that has already been spent; however, after the Emergency Manager law was repealed by voters, the party in power started throwing in at least $1 to their controversial bills so that voters couldn't challenge them. This is just political gamesmanship plain and simple, and it has been used to deny Michigan residents their voice in our democracy. The legislature should be accountable first and foremost to the citizens of Michigan, which is why protecting access to the ballot through voting rights legislation and passing transparency and accountability laws is so important. Michigan citizens deserve a legislature that won't use legal loopholes and anti-democratic tactics to pass laws in conflict with the interests of Michigan families, but will instead work on behalf of Michiganders to get things done on the issues that matter to the people.


Top five issues


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


Education: As a former teacher, I am very concerned about the state of public education. We must increase per-pupil funding and adjust funding to take into account students with the greatest needs. We should implement recommendations from the School Finance Research Collaborative and MSU’s Education Policy Report (Jan 2019). The MSU report provides a framework for how the state can allocate more resources to at-risk students and students with special needs, offer free high-quality preschool programs, and adjust teacher salaries and retirement benefits to keep up with inflation. I also support Gov. Whitmer’s proposed $1 billion investment in school infrastructure, which will help provide safe learning environments for all. Environment: Protecting our environment is a critical part of strengthening our communities. As a Berkley City Council member, I’ve consistently supported the implementation of Berkley’s energy plan that promotes energy efficiency and sustainability community-wide. I’m also proud to serve on a subcommittee that has successfully advocated for a $100,000 line item in Berkley’s upcoming budget for installing electric vehicle charging stations. Now, I’m ready to take the fight for a cleaner environment to our state legislature. My plan for preserving Michigan’s vast natural resources and green spaces includes: investing in renewable energy to promote sustainability and create new, high-quality jobs for Michigan workers; holding corporate polluters accountable for the contamination they cause, making them cover the cost of mitigation, and increasing reporting requirements; increasing staffing and funding for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. Reproductive Rights: In 2022, Michiganders face the biggest threat to reproductive rights in 50 years. The Supreme Court’s repeal of Roe v. Wade isn’t just about abortion – it puts the health, bodily autonomy, and personal liberty of everyone who can get pregnant at risk. Every person must maintain the right to control what happens inside their bodies, and to make decisions about their health care with their medical providers alone. Gun Violence Prevention: In the past year gunmen have murdered people – and children – with mass shootings in an elementary school, grocery store, places of worship, and other “safe” spaces where Americans go about their daily lives. Change is long overdue. The Second Amendment does not imply that all weapons should be available to all people. I support a ban on assault weapons, automatic firearms, silencers, explosive ordnance, and other NFA weapons. We must also keep guns away from people who pose a real threat to themselves or others. In Lansing, I will advocate for widely supported gun safety laws like universal background checks, safe storage mandates, and “red flag” laws that allow police to temporarily remove guns from people who pose an immediate risk to themselves or others. Economy: Strengthening Michigan’s economy helps us weather circumstances like inflation and recession, and we can do it by supporting our workers, boosting small businesses, and attracting diverse and resilient industries to our state. Our workers are the backbone of our economy, and I will fight to give them living wages, paid sick leave, and worker protections, including the right to collective bargaining. Small businesses create jobs and provide valuable services to our communities, and I will help them grow and thrive in our communities with the same or better incentives that we give to big corporations. Finally, I will maintain a skilled workforce by promoting post-secondary education, trades, and apprenticeships to keep local talent here and make Michigan appealing to the businesses and industries leading us into tomorrow.

PAUL TAROS

REPUBLICAN


Paul Taros of Birmingham is president of Taros & Associates, PC, Certified Public Accountants. He received his BBA from University of Michigan and his MBA from Wayne State University. He is a three-time Ambassador of the Year for the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce, on the board of directors for Crossroads for Youth, and active at St. George Greek Orthodox Church.


Abortion ballot issue


Imagine a baby, moments from being born, is suddenly aborted. That little life being denied its right to go forth and experience the joy, wonder and sorrows that you and I have experienced during our lifetime. One of the most important roles of government is to protect those least able to protect themselves. The state already requires parents to care for their child from birth to the age of 18. Maybe it is time that we lower the starting time of care from birth to prenatal.


Voting rights and policies


I believe that we need a law to require that everyone who votes be required to present a valid ID. Allowing even one person to vote illegally diminishes the vote of all the legal voters. In addition, we need to develop a better procedure for absentee voting, so that we can be assured that the person completing the ballot is the person who requested it. Recently we have seen numerous irregularities when they attempted a recount in Detroit. One such irregularity was discovering fewer ballots than vote totals in a precinct, thereby preventing a recount. These irregularities cannot be allowed to occur again. Our democracy can only work if we truly have fair and honest elections. The documentary “2000 Mules” highlighted significant issues with unmonitored drop boxes and absentee ballots. Perhaps the most troubling issue being the very real possibility of fraudulent ballots being deposited into these drop boxes. We need to ensure that only registered voters vote and that no fraudulent ballots can be cast.


Term limits and transparency


Many people refer to Lansing and Washington D.C. as the swamp because of all the corruption. I could not agree more. Currently Michigan has some of the strictest term limits in the country. I do not see any good reason to extend the time a state Senator could serve from eight years to 12 years or a state Representative from six years to 12 years. Extending the time these elected officials can serve in office will only allow them to garner more power to use for the benefit of special interests. While I would support requiring elected officials to disclose their finances, I would not support the current proposal since it means relaxing the current term limits.


Legislative bans on education topics


Our Michigan Attorney General, Dana Nessel, has been quoted as saying "A drag queen for every school! That is what would be fun for the kids and lift them up when they are having emotional issues." I would support legislation to prevent things like this from happening. Currently woke teachers think it is acceptable to teach the following to our children: “Individuals bear collective guilt for historical wrongs committed by their race or gender.” We don’t hold children responsible for the sins of their fathers. Why would we hold a whole race responsible for the sins of a few who happen to be of the same race. So, if it takes Lansing to pass laws to reign in woke teachers, then yes, I would support such legislation.


Highland Park Water and Sewer debt


This nonsense has to stop. The GLWA cannot continue to provide water to the city of Highland Park without being paid. I would propose that effective immediately all residents and businesses pay their water bills directly to an entity created by the GLWA, for the sole purpose of collecting these water bills. This would at least stop the outstanding debt from continuing to grow. Then the state, city and GLWA can work on a plan to eliminate the outstanding debt.


2020 presidential election results


We all saw how the IRS was weaponized under the Obama administration to go after Tea Party and other conservative groups. Considering the numerous errors and irregularities the Secretary of State’s office made during the 2020 election as cited by the McBroom report, it appears very likely that Jocelyn Benson weaponized her office to steal the 2020 election. The McBroom report stated that the mass mailings of absentee voter ballots and applications were troubling. The report states “it appears the list chosen by the Secretary of State's Bureau of Elections were often older and previously purged.” This raises the question why was this error made or was it done intentionally by people in the secretary of state's office? The report also says that there were significant communications between the “Secretary of State department and Rock the Vote, a group which tends to target young persons and those with more left of center political leanings.” I would not call the group Rock the Vote an impartial organization and I would certainly think that further investigation into these email communications between the Secretary of State and Rock the Vote would be warranted. However, the McBroom committee just glossed over it and moved on. Nothing to see here folks. The report talks about 289,866 illegal votes as determined by the Voter Integrity Project. Again, the committee dismisses this by claiming this term is misleading and causes significant confusion as it implies fraudulent votes. The report goes on to say, “while it may not be lawful to send ballots without first receiving an application, voting this ballot is not an illegal action by a lawful voter and it is not indicative of fraudulent or illicit behavior of the voter nor of the illegitimate vote.” Here the committee is clearly stating that ballots mailed without first receiving an application is an illegal action, yet they did not pursue and investigate this issue. The report talks about the Michigan court of claims striking down Secretary of State Benson's guidance on signature matching which required workers to presume the validity of signatures, ruling that the required presumption of validity is found nowhere in the state law in mandating such was a direct violation of the administrative procedures act. Here again you have the Secretary of State issuing illegal instructions which certainly could have had a significant impact on the election results. But once again Senator McBroom dismisses this and takes no further investigation.


The documentary “2000 Mules” raises many other issues and questions that need to be investigated. There seems to be numerous errors on the part of the secretary of state, which makes it appear that the secretary of state worked in concert with the Democrat party to steal the 2020 election. Without a real impartial investigation into these issues and corrective action taken, there will be a mistrust of election results by millions of Americans henceforth.


Right of redress


Both Democrats and Republicans have used chicanery such as this to accomplish their goals. They have used the rules that were available to them to achieve the results they sought. If we want to stop this, we need to change the laws and rules. What is more troubling is a governor issuing executive orders and when those orders are found to be illegal, she uses unelected bureaucrats to issue the same orders through their departments. We need to reign in the governor and unelected bureaucrats who have unconstitutionally usurped powers from the legislature and the citizens of Michigan.


Top five issues


Eliminate Corporate Welfare: The Michigan Strategic Fund and Michigan Economic Development Corporation are used to reward political supporters with grants, loans, and tax breaks. Time and time again we see jobs and new projects promised only to find out that the jobs never materialized, and the company is going out of business. If we eliminated the MFS and MEDC we could use that money to improve the overall business environment of Michigan. Improve Education: We need to stop teaching kids what to think, but rather how to think. Some teachers are such great teachers that we wish we could clone them and share them with all students. Why don’t we? Not clone them, but certainly we can video tape them and share it with students across the state. These videos would be supplemented with teachers present to answer questions. Fix Our Infrastructure: For far too long the state has neglected our infrastructure. We need to make sure we spend the appropriate amount of money each and every year to maintain our infrastructure. In addition, the state needs to get the best value. Longer lasting roads with warranties which utilize new materials should be sought. The same approach should be applied to our bridges, water systems, and broadband. Lower energy costs: Last year Ford Motor Company cited lower energy costs when it announced that it would be spending billions of dollars and creating thousands of new jobs in Tennessee and Kentucky rather than in Michigan. This must stop. Michigan has to stop trying to buy jobs with gimmicky tax breaks and giveaways. Let’s create a business-friendly environment with lower energy costs. This will not only benefit businesses, but it will also benefit residential consumers. Limiting out-of-state students at our universities: We established and fund our universities for our residents. However, our universities have found it to be more profitable to accept more and more out-of-state students. By limiting the number of out-of-state students our universities can accept, it allows more in-state students to attend. This will stop out-of-state students from coming here, getting an education, and then leaving our state, resulting in our state not having the educated workforce employers require.

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