For the past four years, Chris Kolb has
been the voice of Ann Arbor in Michigan’s House of
Representatives. This year, Kolb is running for his third and final
term as a state representative. When voters go to the polls on Nov.
2, they should return Kolb to Lansing.
While holding office, Kolb has consistently taken up the
state-level issues Ann Arbor residents are concerned about. Kolb
has taken the initiative and demonstrated leadership when it comes
to tackling issues pertaining to land use. He has placed his
support behind the Ann Arbor Greenbelt and says such measures are
the best ways for the city and the rest of the state to better
conserve land. He has clearly voiced opposition to urban sprawl,
and firmly believes that development should be encouraged in
centralized, accessible urban areas, not distant, sprawling
suburban office parks.
Kolb has also recognized that Michigan’s water is in
danger of being usurped by the American Southwest and that we must
vigorously defend our water resources from those who would exploit
them. He is a sponsor of the Water Legacy Act, which is a package
of bills that provides great detail about how Michigan can and must
protect the Great Lakes. It is vital that the state demonstrate an
interest in protecting Great Lakes resources to ensure that
outsiders do not intrude and force water diversion.
The most pressing issue facing the state at large is the ongoing
budget crisis, which has limited expenditures on environmental
regulation, health care and all levels of education. The state has
been forced to balance the budget while not seriously damaging
vital services, like health care, that provide for those who need
them the most. Kolb recognizes this problem, and has differentiated
himself from his opponent, Eric Sheagren, in this aspect. While
Sheagren would support additional tax cuts despite the depressed
budget situation, Kolb is aware of the dire fiscal situation
Michigan is already facing. Even though Kolb has supported
regressive sin taxes on tobacco and alcohol, it is clear that he
would have a superior approach to dealing with the state’s
Kolb has taken admirable positions on the two major state ballot
initiatives as well. He stands with Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Rep.
Rick Johnson, the speaker of the state House, and this page in
opposition to Proposal 1. His argument — that Proposal 1
would hamper the state lottery and thus decrease education funds
— demonstrates a commitment to elementary and secondary
education. Kolb, the only openly gay member of the state House,
also opposes Proposal 2 because it writes discrimination into the
state constitution and denies all of Michigan’s citizens
their civil rights. This position demonstrates a commitment to the
values the University and the Ann Arbor community stand for.
Kolb’s re-election, considering the political demographics
of Ann Arbor, is virtually guaranteed. Even Sheagren, his opponent,
acknowledges that he has little chance of victory. While we
disagree with Sheagren on the issues, we harbor a deep respect for
his motives in entering the race. It is admirable that Sheagren
entered an essentially unwinnable race simply to make sure that
Kolb has opposition. It is fundamental to democracy that voters be
given a choice, and it is disheartening that many incumbents are
able to run without opposition this November. Even though we have
significant concerns with Sheagren’s platform, we feel he is
performing a valuable public service by offering Ann Arbor
residents a choice.
In the end, Kolb is the more knowledgeable and experienced
candidate in the race. He brings a superior ideology and platform,
as well as a superb track record of results. It is because of this
firm resolve to protect civil rights for all of Michigan’s
citizens, Michigan’s natural resources and funding for
education at all levels that we enthusiastically endorse Chris Kolb
for state representative from Michigan’s 53rd district.