Who am I?
The son of two autoworkers, I know the values of hard work, family, and playing by the rules. In the 1930s, my grandfather and grandmother met at The Globe Factory on Commerce Avenue in downtown Grand Rapids. A generation later, my dad and mom met on the lines of the General Motors diesel plant in Wyoming.
The first in my family to go to college, I worked for WOOD-TV 8 and WGVU-TV 35 while earning my bachelors degree in journalism from Grand Valley State University. During my five years as a journalist, I helped cover state and national stories, including the 2004 presidential election, the 2002 state gubernatorial election, and the attacks on September 11th.
After college, I saw many of my peers struggle to find jobs. Factories were closing and unemployment rising. I wanted to be part of changing the tides and went to work for Governor Jennifer Granholms 2006 re-election campaign. I later joined her executive office, promoting programs like No Worker Left Behind to help Michigan workers transition to a global economy.
I also spent several years in Washington, DC working to give a voice to some of the bravest Americans I have met. Coming from a family of veterans, I believed strongly that the dont ask, dont tell law -- which barred lesbian and gay troops from serving with honesty and integrity -- was wrong and hurt our national security. While working for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network I directed a communications campaign that helped improve public opinion and garner grassroots support from people in key states, including a youth outreach plan that was led by Lady Gaga.
I also provided counsel to service members looking to tell their stories without having to sacrifice their service to our country. As part of this role I negotiated with national media outlets to ensure that active-duty service members could share their stories without exposing themselves to risk of discharge under the dont ask, dont tell law. In December of 2010, after months of negotiations and failed votes, the dont ask, dont tell law was repealed with bipartisan support.
With repeal accomplished, Michigan again beckoned. I have returned to West Michigan the community where generations of my family have lived, where I was raised, went to college and spent the first five years of my professional life. I am now running to be the next Congressman in Michigans 3rd Congressional District.
Why am I running?
I am running because I never forget where I came from. Its no secret Michigan has one of the hardest if not the hardest hit by the economic struggles our country is facing. I see firsthand with my own family. They are facing uncertainty and economic struggles along with folks across West Michigan.
Unfortunately our lawmakers in Washington have been more interested with playing politics than securing our future. We have a Congressman, Justin Amash, who doesnt believe in the promise of our working and middle class families. In fact, he just voted against our workers once again, opting to raise payroll taxes on folks across the nation and cutting $40 from their paychecks. I believe Michigan workers deserve better.
I am running to give our young people a voice in the U.S. Congress. I have been talking with students at the colleges and universities across the district. These students, our countrys next generation, again and again express concern about skyrocketing tuition prices. It is critical that Congress takes action to address the fact that our students are already carrying a heavy debt load before they even enter the workforce.
I am running to give our veterans here in Michigan the dignity they deserve. Michigan ranks 53rd in the nation for vets receiving their benefits. There are things we can, and must do so that our veterans are able to receive the benefits they have earned in a timely and effective manner. We can make sure that every vet has access to the proper paperwork, and that the paperwork is clear and simple. I will be a fierce advocate for our servicemembers and their families.
Working and middle class families, our young people, veterans all people who need a strong voice in Congress. This campaign is a campaign for us all.
Goal 1 - We need to make sure our products say 'Made in America' again. That's why my number one goal my first year in office will be to eliminate tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas and instead provide tax incentives to companies that create jobs here. I willwork to make sure small businesses that want to grow and expand get the loans they need and that unnecessary regulations dont stand in their way.Together with Senators Levin and Stabenow, along with the rest of Michigans Congressional delegation, private sector companies including the Big 3 and key labor unions I will take a stand to fight for the companies that are investing and hiring here at home.
Goal 2 We must stop runaway tuition rates at our universities. During my first year in office I will fight to stop the ongoing tuition loan rate hikes, like the one scheduled to take effect this July. We need schools to do their part as well to help keep tuition affordable, but Congressional action is critical, and I am committed to taking the lead on this issue.
My DFA Values
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My Campaign is People Powered!
My campaign is inviting people to share their stories on our website and to talk about how the issues they care most about are being impacted during this campaign. This is a campaign for us all, so want to hear from people, and want their stories to be part of the message we are sending to Washington.
I am speaking to students on college campuses across the district, and attending events and meetings at Teamsters halls and rallies with the UAW. Our grassroots efforts are the heart of this campaign and I will continue to make this boots on the ground approach the centerpiece of my campaigning strategy.
Finally, we are tapping into the power of social media. I made my announcement that I was filing the paperwork to run for Congress on Twitter. The blogosphere, not the mainstream media, were the first to weigh in and call this a race to watch. My introduction as a candidate was through a viral YouTube video. The importance of social media comes not from how much money or power you have, but how many people you can reach out to. And that is what this campaign is all about offering a voice to all.