John Dingell says he’s been in the U.S. House of
Representatives long enough to know when it is being run well. In
this congressional term, he said that just isn’t the
case.

“I am desperately anxious to take the House back from the
Republicans who have been handling issues very badly,” said
Dingell, the Democratic congressman from Dearborn.

Although he has not yet filed for candidacy, the 77-year-old
candidate said he will run for re-election this November against
independent candidate Hans Masing, a University School of
Information lecturer. Dingell has been elected to the House of
Representatives in every election since 1955 and will be seeking
re-election for his 50th year in office.

Because of his extensive experience, Dingell is fairly confident
that he will be successful in fighting for changes that benefit the
15th District.

“We give great constituent service,” he said.
“I have a very active staff which spends a great deal of time
running around the district finding out what people want me to
do.”

Even Masing, his opponent in the race, admits that he respects
Dingell’s service and would never speak negatively of the
congressman.

Although, Dingell won the 2002 primary elections with 72 percent
of the overall district vote, he failed to gather the majority of
Ann Arbor voters, who supported Democrat Lynn Rivers. Rivers was a
congresswoman for the city before the 15th District was redrawn in
2002, forcing Dingell and Rivers to run against each other.

In this election, however, Dingell’s involvement with the
University and ideas for its improvements may appeal to the
city’s voters, specifically college students.

Dingell’s opposition to the Michigan Civil Rights
Initiative — which would end state race-conscious policies in
education and government programs — is one of these
issues.

“(My wife and I) are going to be working actively with the
people working against (the initiative),” he said.” We
find it distressing that the Mystic Knights and the Ku Klux Klan is
joining with the other rascals to come into Michigan to stir up
racial discourse and difficulty among our people,” he said,
referring to the group that endorsed the initiative.

Dingell emphasized the need to educate people on why they
shouldn’t sign “racially-oriented” petitions,
adding that only when diversity had been fully achieved through
affirmative action could it be eliminated.

Until then, he said, “The threat of affirmative action
repeal is ruining our campuses.”

Dingell also acknowledged the University’s budget crisis
— about $37 million in funding cuts over the past year
— and said the problem is heightened because the
University’s federal funding of Pell Grants is maxed out.

But he said to effectively provide student loans and accelerate
the job hunt for graduates, it is important for him to maintain a
close relationship with University officials.

“I will meet regularly with officers and leaders to see
what they want and their problems with the government,” he
said. “We will try and be friends and on a first-name basis
with the officers of the different colleges so that we can talk
honestly and frankly with them about their concerns,” he
said.

On a national level, Dingell said he wants to repair the damage
done by the Republicans in the last four years. He has a long list
of grievances against the Bush administration, finding fault in
almost every policy the Republicans have pursued.

The war in Iraq is at the top of his list.

“I oppose their failure to deal frankly with people about
Iraq where they were not forthcoming on the cause of going in
there,” he said. “They said there were ties to
al-Qaida, which have not been found, nor have the weapons of mass
destruction been found.”

Among other things, Dingell is concerned with the current
leadership’s fiscal policy. Like most Democrats, he is
against Bush’s tax cuts, 90 percent of which went to the
wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, he said. His campaign also wants
to end the No Child Left Behind Act and stop the “shipping of
American jobs abroad,” he said.

Dingell said his platform remains strong because even after 50
years in the House, there are things that need to be done.

“There’s always something that comes up.
There’s always something I want to do. There’s always
something I want to stop and concerns that I have,” he
said.

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