ADRIAN — Candidates for Michigan’s new 34th House of Representatives district took questions Thursday at a forum in Adrian.
Republicans Julie Moore of Adrian Township, Ryan Rank of Madison Township and State Sen. Dale Zorn of Onsted are seeking their party’s nomination in the Aug. 2 primary election. They participated in the forum hosted by the Lenawee County branch of the NAACP at Adrian Julianne High School and George Argyros Performing Arts Center.
The winner of the Republican primary will face Democrat John Dahlgren of Clinton, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary and was not at Thursday’s forum.
Moore is a nurse, Rank is the recently retired fire chief of Madison Township, and Zorn is finishing his term in the Michigan Senate. He cannot run for re-election to the Senate due to term limits. He still has one possible term in the House.
Dale Gaertner of radio station WLEN in Adrian was the forum moderator.
Candidates for Lenawee County District Judge, the new 5th United States House District and the new 16th Michigan Senate District also took part in the forum. A story on the judge candidates will be released at a later date. Only one candidate showed up for the other two races. The Daily Telegram will publish the profiles of these candidates separately.
The 34th District covers most of Lenawee County. Some other districts cross into neighboring counties.
Economic development and education are Zorn’s main legislative priority, he said.
“The two work together,” he said. “Neither has priority without the other. It is very important to all of us in this community to provide our children with a good education, when they are young, so that they can find their way to their future.
Moore said education was her top priority.
“Kids in Lenawee County aren’t really reaching those excellent reading levels that we need them to have,” she said. “There’s definitely a gap between what they know and what they can do in the job market.”
Rank said he wanted to bring back family values and protect individual rights while focusing on education, mental health and public safety services.
He said education must focus on developing more skilled workers.
Specifically regarding the education system, Moore said school board members told him that parental involvement was part of the gap between successful and struggling students. She said more money for schools is not the answer.
“We need to work together in the community to make sure our students get the kind of help they need, whether it’s from family members, whether it’s from people who volunteering in school systems, but finding ways to get that tutoring and get our kids to the kind of learning that they need,” Moore said.
Rank said he would consider abolishing the Michigan Board of Education and letting local superintendents and school districts have control with parental input.
“What works here doesn’t necessarily work in Detroit. What works in Monroe doesn’t necessarily work here,” he said. “So trying to fit one size is not the idea.”
“The state must provide the tools for education in our school systems,” Zorn said. “We need to provide these tools to our students so they can find that path.”
He said his communication with local school administrators helped him “raise the bar for STEM and also for career technologies.” This also includes redirecting funds to school districts so they can acquire the type of equipment that students will use in their careers.
Rank said he will meet with Kathryn Szewczuk, executive director of the Lenawee Community Mental Health Authority, to find out what mental health services are needed in Lenawee County. He acknowledged recent legislation aimed at increasing access to mental health services, but said services must be built locally, rather than trying to apply a one-size-fits-all solution.
Zorn said that as he worked on this recent legislation, which included nearly $1 billion in spending, he was in contact with local mental health officials. He said he wants local officials to know what state lawmakers are working on, what the state is working with and what might happen. He said he also wanted to know what the local needs are.
Moore said there was a lack of professionals who could work with students. She said the legislature should work with the local mental health authority to make things better for students.
When asked about their thoughts on potential gun and gun safety legislation, all three candidates said they were strong supporters of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.
Zorn said there are already laws in place to address violations.
Moore said tackling the “mental health crisis” would help address gun violence while enforcing existing laws.
Rank said he will eliminate gun-free zones, address mental health and ensure existing laws are enforced.
All three candidates have said they oppose abortion. Rank said he was a “no exceptions” candidate. Zorn said he was “a very strong right to life person”. Moore said he believed in protecting life “from conception until natural death”.
When asked about protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ people, Rank said he believes everyone is created equal, people shouldn’t be labeled, and there are policies in place to protect people. individual rights.
“We can’t legislate society, but we should all love each other,” Zorn said. “If we can stop racism by loving and helping each other, we can all have a better life.”
“Equality is in the books,” Moore said. “…We cannot legislate social change. What we really need to do is model social change by loving others, entering community, talking to neighbors, building bridges, and healing relationships.
Zorn said the 2020 election was fraudulent, like with mail-in ballot boxes. However, he said people needed to move on as other states would also have to edit their votes to change the outcome of the presidential election. He said he asked for a forensic audit of Michigan’s election, but didn’t get one.
“Most of the rigorous debate about additional audits stems from fears surrounding the technology being used and its vulnerabilities, as allegedly demonstrated in County Antrim. Without any evidence to validate those fears, another audit, a so-called audit forensic, is not justifiable,” Sen. Ed McBroom, a Republican from Vulcan in the Upper Peninsula and chairman of the Senate Oversight Committee that investigated the election, wrote in the committee’s report.
Zorn said he wanted a forensic audit to identify issues and fix them for the next election. The oversight committee’s report identifies the strengths and weaknesses of Michigan’s electoral system.
“I truly believe that with the multitude of absentee ballots that have been placed in the last election, there has been more fraud than ever before,” Moore said. “I really can’t speculate that it would have changed the election results.”
She said a forensic audit could have identified discrepancies that needed to be corrected.
Rank also said there was fraud in the election. He said the postal voting system should be strengthened, giving a personal anecdote from the 2020 election cycle. He said his sister died in 2018 and he was the executor of her estate. “I received no less than five mail-in ballot requests for her,” he said.
He also said voter identification should be ensured, including requiring the state to provide ID.
Encouraging economic development in Lenawee County involved making sure the county is a place people want to live and have good schools, Moore said. She said she was encouraged by the conversations and work she saw among different groups to make things work better together and the county look better.
Rank said lawmakers should work with experts such as chambers of commerce and the tourism board and talk to business owners to find out what they need. He said he had heard complaints from business owners about the unemployment system, where people applied for jobs and were offered jobs only to be turned down because they just wanted to check off a requirement in the process. of unemployment that they show that they are looking for work.
Zorn said the problem with the unemployment agency is a matter of attracting and keeping businesses in Lenawee County. He said there has been progress in creating and sustaining jobs in the county over the past eight years. He would work to continue bringing funds to attract and retain jobs in the county.