By Tana Micheals
FREELAND – Garnet Lewis announced she is running for the 98th District House seat in the November 2008 general election. The 98th District includes the city of Midland, the east side of Midland County, as well as western and northern sections of Saginaw County – including Zilwaukee, Kochville, Carrollton, Hemlock, Merrill and Freeland. She officially filed as a candidate on July 19, symbolically coinciding with the 1848 date when the first women’s rights convention began in Seneca Falls, N.Y.
Lewis is a member of Perceptions, the organization serving the the LGBT community in the Saginaw-Midland area of the state.
Lewis’ decision to run first came after President George W. Bush was reelected in 2004.
“I needed to do something. I couldn’t just sit there,” Lewis said. “I had to get involved and change things.” Since then, she added, she has been a “sponge,” learning everything she can about her potential new job.
With a Ph.D. to her credit, Lewis currently is an openly-gay associate director for professional education at Central Michigan University’s College of Education and Human Services – Center for Student Services. A resident of Freeland, the 46-year-old is running as a Democrat in the Republican-held 98th District.
“Since there’s been a 98th District, which has only been six years, it’s been represented by republican John R. Moolenaar, who is leaving due to term limits,” Lewis said.
Lewis is confident that previously-Republican Midland will be Democratic by the time of the election. “Right now we have a 45-percent-and-growing Democratic base,” she said. Dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq seems to be changing people’s minds about the effectiveness of the Republican Party in general, she noted.
The district currently is bipartisan, with Midland leaning Republican and Saginaw tilting Democratic. “It’s a great opportunity to work together to get things done,” Lewis said. “There’s a budget crises going on and tough decisions need to be made.”
Concerning the need to raise taxes to correct the budget deficit, Lewis said, “No one wants to raise taxes. I’d like to see more urgency in Lansing on this problem. Politicians are too worried about reelection to do the right thing. I’ll make those tough decisions. If I don’t get reelected, then I’ll have served two years and made some progress for the state. Reelection isn’t my goal. Making the state a better place is my goal.
“It’s the poor, elderly and the young who are the ones to suffer when there’s a budget pinch. I believe in paying it forward. I don’t expect it to ‘be there when I need it’ without paying into it now,” Lewis continued. “If we pay just 0.1 percent more in state income tax, we’ll solve the problem. If your income is $50,000 per year, you’ll pay just $50 in extra taxes for the year.
“It comes down to priorities. There are 52 weeks in the year. That’s less than a Coke per week. Do you want services for the state, or that Coke?”
As a long-term budget fix, Lewis looks to education. “Strong education equals a strong economy,” she said. Toward that end, Lewis wants more educational funding coming from a balanced budget that will include raising taxes and reallocating funds. “We pay more for prisoners than we do for our students,” she added. “There’s something wrong with that.”
She also sees a need for renewable, sustainable energy. “I’d like to work with Dow to find a solution,” Lewis added. “If it’s not coal, what is it? Let’s get to work on this.”
Lewis said she works with data, facts and figures that will clearly point out where and why work needs to be done. It’s something concrete that people can see. Her experience as former president and CEO of Freeland-based Data & Survey Management Solutions – and as director of institutional research – is among a list of qualifications that arguably put practical knowledge behind the promises. Read more at http://www.garnetlewis2008.com.
By Tana Micheals