As the general election for the 18th District state Senate seat approaches, Democratic candidate Rebekah Warren and Republican candidate John Hochstetler appear to agree on one primary issue — the need to revitalize the state of Michigan. They just have different ideas on how to go about doing so.
Throughout the campaign period, Warren — who currently represents the city of Ann Arbor as the state representative for the 53rd House District — has focused on environmental issues, while Hochstetler has pushed to expand localized agriculture in Michigan to boost the state’s economy.
As a candidate for the state Senate, Warren continues to emphasize the issues she advocates for in Lansing, like legislation to facilitate the creation of new jobs in Michigan. She stressed that of all the issues her campaign focuses on, economic development and job creation are at the top of her list.
“I am dedicated to investing in education and job training programs, expanding the Venture Michigan Fund to give technology start-ups access to capital and closing outdated corporate tax loopholes that have only benefited a small group of special interests,” she said.
Warren served as chair of the House Great Lakes and Environment Committee, through which she worked to protect Michigan’s natural resources.
“I am proud of my work to pass the Great Lakes Compact, which protects the Great Lakes Basin’s water supply,” she said. “I also look forward to continuing to work toward the preservation of our farmland and green spaces and the elimination of invasive species like Asian carp.”
Warren has held various other positions within the state House since 2007, as co-chair of the Legislative Biotechnology Caucus, member of the Subcommittee on Biosciences Industry Development and co-chair of the Mental Health Caucus.
Michael Traugott, professor of communication studies and political science at the University, said he thinks Warren has a “considerable advantage” in the election because of this experience in the House.
Hochstetler, a resident of Manchester, Mich., wants to focus on restoring the business climate of Michigan by supporting local agriculture and other small business in the state.
If elected to the state Senate, Hochstetler said he hopes to generate jobs in farming, shipping, distribution and inspection by creating start-up programs. In particular, he emphasized the importance of buying food locally from farmers for the benefits to the state’s overall economic situation.
The 10 Percent Washtenaw campaign — an initiative working to expand the business of local agriculture within the county — has been one of Hochstetler’s priorities throughout his campaign.
In response to Washtenaw county residents spending upwards of $1 billion on groceries each year, the campaign aims for the county to locally produce 10 percent of all of the food consumed here, creating a business that would generate $100 million each year and create 1,500 jobs for Michigan residents to grow, process and deliver the food, Hochstetler explained.
“Agriculture in America is shutting down,” he said.
By purchasing foods at a local level, Hochstetler argues, consumers would stimulate the state’s economy while reaping the health benefits of foods that are naturally produced. The national initiative to phase out genetically modified foods, which would ostensibly help the campaign for localizing food production, has already started in some grocery stores, including Wal-Mart.
This could be a major flip in the economy, Hochstetler said. Part of ensuring this progress will be educating the public and showing people what is really going on in the industry of food production, which, he said, operates under a veil of secrecy.
Hochstetler also advocates for tax reform and a lower level of regulation of businesses throughout the state.