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Meet The Candidates In State Races

The JN reached out to the candidates in the following four races with a questionnaire. Their answers are below, edited for length and clarity.

Meet The Michigan Congressional Candidates

11th Senate District

The 11th Senate District includes Farmington, Farmington Hills, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Lathrup Village, Madison Heights, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak and Southfield. State Sen. Vincent Gregory (D) can’t run again for this seat due to term limits.

Democrat

Jeremy MossNewsroom

Jeremy Moss

NAME: Jeremy Moss

AGE: 32

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Southfield

SYNAGOGUE/CHURCH (if any): Congregation Beth Ahm

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: Current state representative; former Southfield city councilman; former legislative staff in the Michigan legislature.

WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE READERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?

A graduate of Hillel Day School and a board member at Congregation Beth Ahm, I am currently the co-chair of the Caucus of Jewish Legislators in Michigan and would be the only Jewish member of the Michigan State Senate, if elected, after nearly a decade of no representation in that chamber.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 PRIORITIES IF ELECTED?

We must find ways to boost workers’ wages, fix our roads and fund our schools; but we won’t achieve those goals while state government remains broken. That’s why I introduced bills to:

  • Increase government transparency. I wrote 10 bills that passed the House to expand our open records law, so you can shine a light on the money and influence in politics.
  • Restore integrity in our elections. I sponsored legislation to create an independent redistricting commission, expand voter rights and combat the influence of dark money in elections.
  • Stop the DeVos education agenda. I introduced legislation in the School Fact Act to hold for-profit charter schools accountable for the tax-dollars they use.

Republican

Boris TumanNewsroom

Boris Tuman

Boris Tuman

Boris Tuman did not return a questionnaire to the Jewish News.

District 27 House Race

Michigan’s 27th House District includes the cities of Berkley, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Oak Park and Pleasant Ridge as well as Royal Oak Township. Robert Wittenberg is the incumbent.

Republican

Janet FlesslandNewsroom

Janet Flessland

Janet Flessland

The JN could find no contact information for Janet Flessland; she was not contacted with a questionnaire.

Democrat

NAME: Robert Wittenberg

AGE: 37

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Huntington Woods

SYNAGOGUE/CHURCH (if any): I was raised at Temple Emanu-El and my wife was raised at Temple Israel.

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: Licensed life and health insurance agent for 14 years and state representative for the last four years.

Robert WittenbergNewsroom

Robert Wittenberg

WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE READERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I am in my second term as state representative and running for my third and final term. My wife and I had our first child in June, Ada, and we were proud to have Rabbi Bennett from Temple Israel do our baby naming ceremony. I am one of only two Jewish members in the legislature and co-chair of the Legislative Jewish Caucus. I was the lead sponsor and worked with the governor and colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass anti-BDS legislation.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 PRIORITIES IF ELECTED?

Tax equality. I introduced legislation and I’m leading the charge to implement a graduated income tax in Michigan. It would cut taxes for 94 percent of taxpayers and create $1.18 billion of new revenue annually.

Gun safety. I’m founder and chair of the Legislative Gun Violence Prevention Caucus. I’ve introduced legislation for universal criminal background checks and red flag laws, amongst others.

Investing long-term in our state:

  • Making sure we are properly funding our public schools.
  • Investing in our roads, infrastructure and public transit.
  • Protecting our environment, including the Great Lakes.

District 40 House Race

The 40th District encompasses the cities of Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham, Bloomfield Township and a portion of West Bloomfield Township. The seat is held by Republican Rep. Michael McCready, who is term limited.

Republican

David WolkinsonNewsroom

David Wolkinson

NAME: David Wolkinson

AGE: 38

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Birmingham

SYNAGOGUE/CHURCH (if any): Young Israel of Southfield

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: B.A. and M.A. in economics and law degree from the University of Michigan. After graduation, I became an executive for America Works, placing over 400 welfare recipients back into the workforce. Later, I joined Rick Snyder’s gubernatorial team as policy director and helped create the solid framework that led to Michigan’s economic comeback. In 2013, I started my own business called Bentzion Properties. As president, I own and manage a portfolio of multifamily apartment buildings locally and throughout the state.

WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE READERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I am a businessman. I have built up a small but successful real estate management company in the last five years. I know how economies work and I have deep experience in public policy from my years of activism in the Republican Party and my service as Gov. Snyder’s policy director.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 PRIORITIES?

Education, roads and regulatory reform.

Education: There is no more important function of state government than education. Too often in Lansing when we discuss education we talk about funding levels and tax regimes. We need to get back to the basic question of how we can provide the best education possible for our children. We need to be strategic in how we spend our tax dollars on public education. We need to adopt a P-20 model that focuses on a child’s educational development from pre-school through graduate studies. Studies show that at-risk children particularly benefit from early childhood educational opportunities. Through public-private partnerships, we know that we can provide these at-risk children with educational opportunities at a very low cost.

Roads: $175 million is not sufficient. While I would support legislation to use money from the rainy-day fund, my first priority would be to fight for our district’s fair share of the current road money being spent. We are the biggest donors to the state (as far as House Districts go). In Oakland County, we only get back some 70 cents on the dollar of what we send to Lansing. The bottom line is that Oakland County (and the 40th district in particular) do not get our fair share of road revenue based on the current formulas, and the next state representative needs to fight for our fair share.

Regulatory reform: The single biggest obstacle business owners face is Michigan’s complex regulatory structure. We need to reform or eliminate regulations that inhibit businesses from operating and investing in Michigan. Rather than adding more regulations, we need to look at the ones we have and to start aggressively eliminating those that no longer serve a purpose or inhibit economic development.

Democrat

Mari ManoogianNewsroom

Mari Manoogian

NAME: Mari Manoogian

AGE: 26

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Birmingham

SYNAGOGUE/CHURCH (if any): I attend St. Sarkis Armenian Church in Dearborn.

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: I am a foreign policy professional with career experience at the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Mission to the United Nations. I earned both my bachelor’s and master’s from the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University. I began my career in the office of former Congressman John D. Dingell (D-Mich.).

WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE READERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?

It’s an honor to be a candidate for state representative in my home community. This is the community that I was born and raised in; I am a proud product of our public schools and enjoyed so many opportunities that prepared me for my career in public service.

While public service has always been my passion, I didn’t always envision myself pursuing elected office. My great-grandparents escaped the Armenian genocide and came to Detroit with the hope of achieving the American Dream. Today, folks in Lansing are creating policies that are extinguishing that dream. As state representative, I will promote progressive values and policy solutions that benefit all residents in our community.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 PRIORITIES IF ELECTED? 

I’m focused on repairing our infrastructure, including having safe, clean drinking water, investing in public education and fostering a strong environment for small business growth. I’ll fight to make corporations pay their fair share and stop corporations from using overweight trucks that damage our roads.

We can protect our lakes and rivers by making polluters pay steep fines when they pollute and ensure companies like Nestle pay their fair share for bottling our fresh water by having laws that protect our watershed.

Public schools in our district are among some of the best in the state; I support investment in education at all levels.

Local business owners deserve to have the tools they need to create jobs with strong wages and good benefits for Michigan’s families in our district. Thus, I’d like to increase support for small businesses through the Office of Talent and Economic Development. This includes grants for entrepreneurs, help for startup companies and minority business development.

District 39 House Race

District 39 includes weste​​​​rn W​​​​​est Bloomfield Township, Commer​ce Township, the Village of Wolverine Lake and Wixom. The seat is currently held by Republican Rep. Klint Kesto, who is term-limited.

Democrat

Jennifer SuidanNewsroom | Detroit Jewish News

Jennifer Suidan

Jennifer Suidan
Jennifer Suidan did not return a questionnaire to the Jewish News.

Republican

NAME: Ryan Berman

AGE: 38

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Commerce Township (grew up in West Bloomfield)

SYNAGOGUE/CHURCH (if any): Temple Israel (my great-grandparents were founding members)

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: Attorney and counselor at law, also a reserve police officer and active volunteer for many organizations, such as the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.

Ryan BermanNewsroom

Ryan Berman

WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE READERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I’m very reasonable, responsible,
family-oriented and honest.

I’m a lifelong resident of the district with deep roots in this community. My wife, Stacie, is now the kindergarten teacher at Temple Israel. A fun little story: My bar mitzvah service at Temple Israel was a b’nai mitzvah shared with Stacie’s best friend at the time. When I met Stacie at Michigan State University seven years later, we obviously played “Jewish geography” and quickly figured out the connection and that, coincidentally, Stacie happened to be at my service! We’ve now been married for more than 13 years and have two beautiful daughters, Sloane, 11, and Morgan, 9.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 PRIORITIES IF ELECTED?

  • Prioritization of our state budget for proper funding and allocation toward the roads/infrastructure, education and public safety.
  • Lower car insurance rates by reforming our auto no-fault laws.
  • Bring more transparency to our government by expanding our Freedom of Information Act.

Compiled by Managing Editor Jackie Headapohl.

Methodology

Candidates were sent the emailed questionnaire on Sept. 13 with a deadline for response of Sept. 27. Those who did not respond by Sept. 27 were sent another email that day extending the deadline to Oct. 4.

Meet The Michigan Congressional Candidates

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