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Monday, July 14, 2014

Mary Belden - Candidate for State House 40th District

Corporate, civic, community memberships
President, West Hills Middle School and Andover High School PTOs; President, Andover Instrumental Music Supporters (3 years); Bloomfield Players Community Theatre; North Congregational Church; Founding Donor, Bloomfield Hills Schools Foundation; Save Our Symphony; AAUW; Sierra Club; Clean Water Action; Emily's List
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Why are you running for office?
I am running to be a State Representative because I care about Michigan and its future. I have seen, firsthand, the impact of the past few years of decision-making in Lansing. Schools have been hurt. Women have been hurt. Seniors have been hurt. Middle class families have been hurt. Michigan's workforce has been hurt. We need more legislators willing to look past their own interests to make lasting improvements for Michigan's people. We need more women in our state legislature, where women are fewer than they've been in 20 years. We need more legislators who are thoughtful, fair and collaborative, and not sworn to a particular ideological agenda. In short, we need common values and common sense. I am running to bring those qualities to Lansing.

Why do you identify with your political affiliation? Are there any issues in which you believe differently than your political affiliation’s traditional (or more typical) view?
I am affiliated with the Democratic Party in part because of my (formerly) Republican values. I don't think government should be involved in people's personal decisions about their reproductive lives, whom they love, or what religion they practice. Increasingly, the Republican Party has ushered government into all of these private areas of people's lives. Thirty years ago, I was what was known as a "moderate Republican", who defended people's right to live their private lives as they saw fit. Today, I am a Democrat because of those same values. This race is not about party labels. It's about values and priorities. We must work together to improve the quality of life in Michigan and ensure a successful economic future for our state.

Do you support the state’s current use of emergency managers? Please detail your position.
I do not support the state's current use of emergency managers. While I agree that the state has a role to play in helping and advising communities and other entities in financial distress, it should be doing just that: helping and advising, not removing the authority of elected officials and appointing someone to be in charge in their place. Michigan's emergency manager law is particularly problematic because the same folks who passed it also reduced municipal revenue sharing and school funding drastically, helping to create the financial distress the emergency managers are charged to solve. We are a democracy, and the current use of emergency managers in Michigan does not reflect the ideals of the democratic system of government.

What’s the long-term solution to paying for higher education?
If Michigan currently invested in higher education at the level it did during the Engler administration, we would still have affordable state colleges and universities. As a people, we must recognize that our state's tax-cutting efforts have produced major consequences, many of them damaging to our quality of life. We've allowed the pendulum to swing too far, and now we are finding it difficult to educate our young people, keep our roads in safe condition, and pay for municipal services - all of which we used to take for granted. We need to reinvest in higher education if we expect to enjoy the benefits of a college-educated workforce that stays in Michigan after graduation. I support a plan that would award state high school graduates with demonstrated academic achievement tuition grants on a sliding scale based on household income, with an incentive for them to stay in Michigan after completing school, and would also seek to lower the interest rate on federal student loans.

What, if anything, should the state do to change the current road funding system?
There are several changes that would improve the current situation. We need to bring our truck weight limits and fees into line with our surrounding states. We need to evaluate our construction, repair and maintenance processes to ensure that they produce the best "bang for the buck". We need to create a funding mechanism that is less dependent on the price of a gallon of fuel, so we are not relying on continued usage of fuel at current rates. Lastly, we need to be mindful of those least able to pay more to drive their cars, especially since we do not have affordable and effective mass transportation in most of our state.

Do you support increasing the minimum wage? Please explain.
I support increasing the minimum wage because people working full-time in the wealthiest nation on Earth should be able to support themselves on what they earn. Fiscally, it is better to increase the minimum wage than to continue to provide state and federal assistance to workers making less than they need to live on. Better wages allow more people to participate fully in the economy, buying the goods and services that allow businesses to grow and thrive.

What issues do you consider a top priority?
We have lost sight of the priorities that have made Michigan a great place to live and work. Excellent public education, up-to-date and well-maintained infrastructure, thoughtful protection of our natural environment, and fairness for all our residents, must be returned to the top of our list in order to secure a more prosperous and successful future for our state. We must reinvest in our people, our children, and our communities.

Do you support legalized abortion? (Yes or no)

Do you support legally recognized gay marriage? (Yes or no)

Would you sign or have you during this campaign signed a pledge to not raise taxes? (Yes or no)

Ballot initiative: Do you support the personal property tax measure being put before voters? (Yes or no)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Will Anyone Stop Charter School Corruption?

Once again FDR's message rings in our ears "... They can do it cheaper; they can do it better; and it won't cost anybody anything!" he mocked the Republican opponents of his New Deal! Private businesses are taking over public services at an astonishing rate.  Vouchers for everything?  401/403K IRA's instead of pensions and Social Security; privately owned charter schools, vouchers for healthcare instead of "Obamacare"; privately owned jails and penitentiaries, private services replacing public services everywhere!  Are they better?  How can they do the tasks cheaper and more efficiently?
Pay less, with fewer benefits while demanding more work with less security.  The public treasuries still pay the bills, but the corporations take their cut and make sure that their lobbyists handle the lawmakers.  Yes, they create jobs but they replace jobs leading to the middle class with low paying jobs with little or no future.  

The Detroit Free Press has courageously opened the public's eye's to what is going on with Michigan's charter schools, but read the article below and you will see that this is a national attack on our school tax dollars!

Al Halper


When politicians and pundits take to the barricades to defend “wonderful charter schools,” is this what they’re thinking of? A recent article in a Minnesota newspaper reported about a change in state law