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Meet The Michigan Congressional Candidates

The JN couldn’t get to them all, but we took a look at the landscape and identified the congressional races most likely of interest to the Jewish community.

We reached out to the candidates, inviting them to return a brief questionnaire introducing themselves to the community. Here are their responses, edited for length and clarity.

Meet the Candidates in State Races

9th District

Michigan’s 9th congressional district includes all of southern Macomb County from Warren to St. Clair Shores and the following towns in Oakland: Bloomfield Twp., Franklin, Bingham Farms, Beverly Hills, Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge, Ferndale, Clawson precinct one, Madison Heights and Hazel Park. Retiring congressman Sander Levin currently holds the seat.

Democrat

Andy LevinNewsroom

Andy Levin

NAME: Andy Levin

AGE: 58

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Bloomfield Township

SYNAGOGUE/CHURCH (if any): Congregation T’chiyah

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: Successful entrepreneur, union organizer and advocate for workers’ rights and human rights; former director of worker training for the state of Michigan; founded his own clean energy business.

WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE READERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I am so proud of my dad and uncle and their legacy of integrity and public service, but I’m not running on my family’s name. I’m running on my decades of experience fighting for working people in this country.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 PRIORITIES IF ELECTED?

Medicare for all: Health care is a human right. Period. Having access to quality health care and affordable prescription drugs shouldn’t be contingent upon the size of your bank account. I understand the physical, emotional and financial toll of chronic illness and why it is so important that we pass Medicare for All and address the astronomical costs of prescription drugs.

Good-paying jobs with benefits: Too many of our jobs have been offshored, contracted out, privatized and made part-time or temporary. Lower pay and fewer pensions and benefits mean many among us won’t be able to enjoy a solid middle-class life and retirement. The result? Unprecedented inequality of income and wealth. I strongly support paid family leave and believe that no one should have to choose between caring for their loved ones and risking their economic security.

Quality education for every child: All children, regardless of zip code, deserve a high-quality education that provides them with the resources, instruction and support necessary to help them reach their full potential. I will advocate for universal public education, starting with preschool and including excellent K-12 schools under local control with well-compensated and well-respected teachers. We must invest in our kids to build a strong future for Michigan. We must also support our skilled trades’ training and retraining programs, so our workforce is ready to meet the technical demands of the future.

Republican

Candius StearnsNewsroom

Candius Stearns

NAME: Candius Stearns
AGE: 45
CITY OF RESIDENCE: Sterling Heights
SYNAGOGUE/CHURCH (if any): St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: Business owner/healthcare agency and third-party billing for insurance.

WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE READERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU? 

I’m a small business leader who knows how to create jobs, make payroll and budget responsibly. I’ve been working and building relationships to help others in our community my entire life.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 PRIORITIES IF ELECTED?

Jobs: Small business creates jobs, not government. When a small business owner succeeds, the economy grows and the community benefits. I strongly support the tax cuts enacted in December 2017. Since the tax cuts were enacted, we have seen unprecedented economic growth, and Southeast Michigan workers and families have more money in their pocket to help make ends meet.

Security and infrastructure: Michigan’s infrastructure rankings are among the nation’s worst. We ranked 37th and 38th, respectively, for the percent of bridges and urban roads in poor condition. We need to do much, much better. I am determined to help boost federal transportation funding as well as secure funding for our state cyber technology and infrastructure for Michigan.

Lower cost of prescriptions and medical care: I stand firmly against a single payer medical system. Medicare for all will not solve our healthcare problem. The ACA did nothing to lower the cost of prescriptions and medical care. It actually did the opposite by requiring Americans to buy insurance coverage that some didn’t need. We need to inject competition into our healthcare system through the competition of cost of care transparency. I will also work to restore the funding in Medicare that was cut in the Affordable Care Act, which our seniors depend on.

11th District

The 11th district includes Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Commerce Township  Farmington, Northville/Northville Township, Novi/Novi Township, Troy, Walled Lake and West Bloomfield, among other communities. It is represented by David Trott, who is not seeking re-election.

Republican

Lena EpsteinNewsroom

Lena Epstein

NAME: Lena Epstein

AGE: 37

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Bloomfield Hills

SYNAGOGUE OR CHURCH (if any): Temple Beth El

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: For the past 15 years, I have had the opportunity to oversee Vesco Oil Corporation, a family business started by my paternal grandfather over 72 years ago. Vesco Oil is one of the largest women-owned businesses in Michigan and employs more than 200 people with annual revenues exceeding $180 million.

WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE READERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I am proud to call Michigan my home. My family has incredibly deep roots here in Michigan, the business community and the Jewish community. My maternal grandfather, Stanley Winkelman, dedicated his life to many Jewish, civic and community causes, most notably working to improve race relations during the 1960s and building the Winkelman Stores that revolutionized the retail industry and created thousands of Michigan jobs.

I have spent my entire life in Michigan except for the four years I studied economics at Harvard University. Cambridge, the Harvard student body and my economics studies opened my eyes to the tremendous opportunities afforded here in the U.S.

I credit my parents and grandparents for instilling a love and care for this community that has such a rich history. I have dedicated my life to the health, growth and strength of this community and will continue to do so once elected.

Michigan’s future is bright, and our roots are strong. My husband, Eric, and I want to see our daughter, Emma, grow up in this beautiful community, and we want to see it prosper for all families in Michigan for generations to come.

I serve on numerous boards, including the Detroit Jewish News Foundation, Kadima, the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Detroit Historical Society and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 PRIORITIES IF ELECTED?

We need to come together as a nation to pass common sense legislation to fix our nation’s problems.

  • I will work across the aisle to pass bipartisan legislation to lower the cost of healthcare while improving the quality and care we all deserve, including those with pre-existing conditions.
  • We need to continue the growth and strength of our economy. Once elected, I will make it my top priority to work to lower taxes and grow our region’s GDP.
  • I am a strong and unapologetic supporter of the U.S. and Israel relationship and will work tirelessly to strengthen the relationship between our two great nations.

Democrat

Haley StevensNewsroom

Haley Stevens

NAME: Haley Stevens

AGE: 35

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Rochester Hills

SYNAGOGUE/CHURCH (if any): Kensington Church in Troy

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: Served as chief of staff on the Auto Task Force inside of the U.S. Treasury Department, experienced in economic and workforce development.

WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE READERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I’m interested in getting our government back to its original purpose: serving people. We deserve an infrastructure guarantee: good roads and safe drinking water. Everyone deserves access to affordable healthcare, and Congress must address immigration reform and preserve what America has always been: a land of opportunity for those who play by the rules and do the work.

Chief among my priorities are safety and security, both here in the U.S. and abroad, and I believe that our strong and enduring partnership with the State of Israel is a cornerstone of maintaining these goals. As we celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary this year, we mark seven decades of steadfast U.S.-Israel diplomatic relations. As the only democracy in the Middle East and our strongest ally in the region, Israel and its security are paramount to our interests at home and abroad. In Congress, I look forward to strengthening this partnership and exploring new ways to build upon Israel’s and America’s symbiotic economies.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 PRIORITIES IF ELECTED?

Reducing healthcare costs, growing our economy and improving public education.

8th District

Mike BishopNewsroom

Mike Bishop

The 8th district includes Rochester Hills, Clarkston, Lake Orion, Oxford, Brighton, Independence Township, East Lansing and Howell, among other communities. It is represented by Mike Bishop, who is seeking re-election.

Republican

(Mike Bishop submitted answers on Oct. 12. Although not in the print version, they are being added to the online version of this story.)

NAME: Mike Bishop
AGE: 51
CITY OF RESIDENCE: Rochester
SYNAGOGUE/CHURCH (if any): First Congregational Church of Rochester
PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: I received my bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, and my law degree from the Michigan State University School of Law.  After passing the bar exam I worked as a private practice attorney representing families, small businesses and local government. I then had the honor of serving my community in the State House of Representatives for four years before being elected to serve in the State Senate.  In my second term in the Senate, I served as State Senate Majority Leader where I authored the legislation creating the Michigan Child Protection Registry and the Michigan Identity Theft Protection Act. In 2014, I was elected to serve the people of Michigan’s 8th Congressional District. I now serve as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee that is responsible for setting tax and trade policy for the nation.

WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE READERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?
My wife, Cristina, and I are raising our three children right here in the district, the very place I was born and raised. I want you to know it’s an honor and a privilege to represent our community in our nation’s capital. In Congress, I serve on the House Ways and Means Committee,  the same committee that helped deliver once-in-a-generation tax reform that’s providing tax relief to millions of hardworking families, creating more jobs, fairer taxes and bigger paychecks.

I’m also proud of the work I’ve done in the House of Representatives to pass legislation to protect our children, keep our Great Lakes clean, invest in our infrastructure, combat the opioid epidemic, protect benefits for seniors, and help our economy grow so small businesses and families have the opportunity to secure high-paying jobs and keep more of what they earn.

I do all of this by working with my colleagues. All of them. As a member of the bipartisan “Problem Solvers Caucus”, I regularly reach across the aisle to craft bipartisan solutions to some of our countries most pressing issues. Our families, job creators, and communities thrive when we work together to solve problems facing our country. You can rest assured that I will continue working on behalf of all Michiganders to do just that— together we will continue to bring back good-paying jobs and find common-sense solutions for our country, for our community and for our families.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 PRIORITIES IF ELECTED?

My top three priorities are jobs and the economy, protecting America’s seniors, and protecting the Great Lakes and our environment. This Congress, I was deeply involved in crafting the most significant reform to our tax code in a generation, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The results have been incredible: unemployment is at its lowest rate in decades, wages are going up and employers are hiring. I’ve also been working hard to protect the benefits that millions of our seniors rely on like Social Security and Medicare. The House recently passed a bill I authored to strengthen Social Security’s service to victims of identity theft. Lastly, as a lifelong Michigan resident, I am committed to preserving our environment and Great Lakes for future generations. I have consistently supported legislation to ensure that our lakes are protected, and I introduced innovative legislation to strengthen pipeline safety standards.

Democrat

Elissa SlotkinNewsroom

Elissa Slotkin

NAME: Elissa Slotkin

AGE: 42

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Holly

SYNAGOGUE/CHURCH (if any): My parents belong to Temple Israel, and I attended services with them. My grandparents attended Temple Beth El for decades, where they have a foyer in their name.

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: Recruited by CIA to be a Middle East analyst and served three tours in Iraq; worked in a number of intelligence and national security roles at the White House, State Department and the Pentagon, serving under both Presidents Bush and Obama. As acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs under President Obama, I served as the principal adviser to the Secretary of Defense on security policy related to the Middle East, Russia, Europe and Africa, including principal responsibility for the U.S.-Israel defense relationship, where I worked on joint investment on missile defense capabilities, including the Iron Dome and helped negotiate the largest U.S. defense package in history for Israel.

WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE READERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I got into this race because I believe that the current tenor of our politics is fundamentally unbecoming of the country I served and the country we all love. Democrats and Republicans are moving further apart, refusing to get in a room and get to work solving our problems — and people are losing faith in their government. I spent 14 years serving in national security, and in that time, no one ever asked me if I was a Republican or Democrat. We were focused on the mission, and political affiliation simply didn’t matter. And while our team might disagree on strategy or approach, we worked through those issues to form the best possible course of action. The stakes were just too high. If elected, I will bring this same mission-focus to Congress, as I believe that our elected officials have a responsibility to get in a room, find the common ground and force compromise in the name of progress.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 PRIORITIES IF ELECTED?

My priorities are the top issues I hear about from folks across the 8th District every day: healthcare, infrastructure and the influence of money in politics.

I believe that all people deserve access to healthcare they can afford. To address this, I support creating a buy-in to Medicare and allowing Medicare to buy drugs in bulk.

On infrastructure, we need a generational investment to bring federal dollars to our state to fix both our roads and water infrastructure.

Finally, the influence of money in politics makes it feel as though our elected representatives are bought and sold by special interests, rather than working for the people they represent. I made the decision not to take corporate PAC money to my campaign, as I wanted to make it crystal clear who I was fighting for, and this summer I released a government accountability and campaign finance reform platform.

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 Candidates in State Races

Newsroom

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