As the November election draws nearer, Americans won’t be voting just for a presidential candidate, both state and national candidates will be voted upon, too. In Michigan, there will be dozens of candidates running for the first time and for reelection across the state. Between The Lines has reached out to pro-equality candidates to get a sense of their goals and priorities for the LGBTQ community if they are to be elected. To get a full list of the pro-equality candidates running, visit mivoterguide.com.
Here, Michigan 19th-District, which includes part of Livonia in Wayne County, State Rep. Laurie Pohutsky answers questions about why she would be a good fit for reelection.
Why are you running and why do you think you’re a good fit for the office?
I first ran for office in 2018 because I noticed a lack of representation in our state legislature. As a scientist, a millennial and a bisexual woman in a red district, I knew I was not being represented. Additionally, there were many laws based in science coming out of the House, but no one there with the background to advocate for science and evidence-based policy. I’ve worked minimum wage jobs with a college degree because I couldn’t find a job in my field. I’ve struggled to afford health care and medications. I understand these issues that my constituents face because I have faced them too. I’m running for reelection because, although I’m proud of the work I’ve done on these issues, there’s so much more left to do.
What experience do you bring to the table that makes you stand out from the other candidates?
Prior to running for office, I was a microbiologist. I worked in the fields of food safety, health care and toxicology. I have experience with environmental science, which is particularly useful in a state as rich in natural resources as ours that also, unfortunately, is plagued with environmental contamination. During my first term, I have served on the Natural Resources and Health Policy committees. My experience as a scientist means that, respectfully, I know to ask questions other legislators might not during committee hearings. I also bring a data-driven approach to issues, which has been particularly helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are your priorities for your district?
The priorities for my district are assisting families and small businesses through the pandemic, adequately funding our public education system, and repairing our crumbling infrastructure, including our water systems.
What are your priorities for the state of Michigan overall?
My priorities for the state are protecting our environment and moving towards renewable energy sources, expanding and making health care more affordable and reforming the laws around education to make it equitable for all students.
Given your own experience as a member of the LGBTQ community, how will you support LGBTQ Michiganders?
I have supported legislation that will benefit the LGBTQ community, including expanding ELCRA to include LGBTQ Michiganders, banning conversion therapy and updating our laws to reflect marriage equality so that no one’s freedoms hinge on an antiquated technicality. Additionally, I know that the act of being an openly bisexual member of the legislature matters in terms of visibility. When I was just beginning my first run in 2017, I remembered talking with my team about how my sexuality might be used against me. Sure enough, homophobic ads featuring photos of me at Pride declaring that I did not understand my district’s values came shortly before the general election. Although my district wasn’t swayed, I can’t help but think that if I had more LGBTQ elected officials to look to, that prospect wouldn’t have seemed so intimidating.