Districts 52 and 53 are up for grabs this election season with a wide range of candidates vying to be Ann Arbor’s delegates to the state House.

In the 53rd District, Albion College undergraduate student Larry Lloyd Jr., (R-York Twp.) is challenging incumbent Chris Kolb (D-Ann Arbor), who was elected for his first term two years ago, in the general election on Dec. 15. The new 53rd District includes most of Ann Arbor, the University and northern Pittsfield Twp.

Two-term incumbent Gene DeRossett (R-Manchester) is uncontested in the GOP primary and running for reelection in the 52nd District against either Washtenaw County Road Commissioner Pam Burns of Lyndon Twp. or civil rights attorney David Nacht of Scio Twp. The candidates will face off in the Aug. 6 Democratic primary. The new 52nd District surrounds Ann Arbor and includes Ann Arbor Twp., Scio Twp. and western Washtenaw county.

In the 53rd district, Kolb’s plans, if reelected, include to continue work on environmental legislation and set foot into new ground – green commerce – which includes implementation of fuel cells and incentives for reducing chemical use.

“California and New York have put an emphasis on developing their green commerce,” Kolb said. “With the research universities and industrial base, we could develop here green technology … we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface.”

A member of the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, Kolb is focusing on funding higher education, through moving money from sectors like corrections to higher education.

“We have to decide whether our public policy is really doing what we want it to do. We’re spending $30,000 to $40,000 on each prison inmate per year,” Kolb said. “I remember when corrections funding was a fourth of what higher education funding was. Now it equals higher education.”

A senior and political science major at Albion College, Kolb’s challenger brings youth to the election with his age and his agenda.

“It’s equally important for young people to jump into the political arena, and that’s one thing that I can offer,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd’s platform includes an emphasis on public education and an examination of the testing process.

“I’m very uneasy with the fact that (our schools) are concerned with testing. We have been consumed by the need to test,” he said.

Lloyd also encourages investing rather than spending, a part of his plan to “battle with the emerging monopolies and our own private debt,” he said.

“The average American household, their debt level is 15 percent of their annual income, and that’s gone up more than six percent in last year,” Lloyd added.

DeRossett’s advantage as a two-term incumbent allows him to remind voters of his past record, which speaks for itself, he said.

“I’m very optimistic about the election at hand,” DeRossett said. “I’m very confident I will win the third term and continue the leadership position in my third term and help the citizens of Washtenaw county.”

As a chair of the Agricultural and Resource Management Committee, DeRossett outlined his focus as terminating the property value tax and maintaining road systems.

Burns and Nacht are both attorneys who attended the University for a part of their education. Nacht attended the University Law School, and Burns also attended the University as an undergraduate with a concentration in Far Eastern studies. Although each emphasizes education as a main part of their platform, Burns intends to revamp the state’s approach to pre-kindergarten education, and Nacht involves his campaign in the University.

“Pre-k education is one thing I would really like to accomplish,” Burns said. “It’s key to a lot of our problems. … One dollar in pre-k education will save seven dollars down the road in delinquency.”

Burns added that Georgia and North Carolina have been able to provide pre-k education, saving millions of dollars due to grade repetition.

Nacht approaches the election from the point of view of his younger days as a student at Harvard University, where he said he first became interested in politics. He added that he is determined to have University students at the center of his campaign.

“I am a strong supporter for funding the public universities, I could be counted on to continue to fight for funds for the University of Michigan,” Nacht said.

He summarized his platform as a “political philosophy to enhance individual dignity,” which includes topics such as keeping senior citizens in their homes and enforcing current environmental laws.

The House elections revolve around a state house map that was redistricted and renumbered two years ago after the elections.

As a result, some representatives are changing districts, as in Rep. DeRossett’s switch from holding the 55th-District seat to running for the 52nd.

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