The race for 36th District State Senator has two candidates ready to address a number of key issues. Both Democratic Candidate Joe Weir and current State Senator Jim Stamas have a few items that they are looking to address if elected in fall.
The two men reside in Midland where they have raised their families. Weir comes from the private sector after a long and beneficial career at Dow Chemical. The newly retired challenger has served as chair and vice chair of the Midland County Democrats. The current state senator has held several different positions in the Michigan legislature. Stamas was elected to the state senate position back in 2014. Before 2014, he served three terms in the Michigan House of Representatives for the 98th District.
Joe Weir wants to bring a fresh perspective to Lansing and help reshape politics. He plans to address problems in education and infrastructure facing the district. He’s been busy, making his way around the district and meeting a number of people. Weir looks at the past before the Republicans took control and wants to go back to what he thinks was working. The democratic challenger would help find ways to invest in the state.
“If we want to compete in the 21st century economy, well then we’re going to need a 21st century infrastructure, that’s self evident,” said Weir.
Weir wants to see more funding into education in order to help create more skilled workers to contribute to the 21st century economy. The Democrat looks at tackling issues like supporting more broadband opportunities via Gubernatorial Candidate Gretchen Whitmer’s plan to provide more coverage in places deemed a “cell hell.” He also wants to help reform education from pre-kindergarten to postsecondary education, making all education affordable and available for northeast Michiganders.
“Alpena County is losing population just as this whole district largely is losing population and that tells you that there is not enough economic opportunity for young people to be able to make a decent living and sustain a family so they’re leaving,” said Weir.
The democratic challenger cites an older population along with the number of seasonal and low paying jobs in the district. He wants to see higher wage jobs enter the area.
Where Weir sees a decline, Stamas sees years of success since entering the Michigan legislature.
“We now over the last six years are seeing families come back to Michigan so I think that’s an exciting opportunity,” said Stamas. “Those people coming back, a lot of them are our families, our kids, and so that’s exciting to have that opportunity to have jobs here in Michigan.”
Jim Stamas has three points that he ran on in 2014 that he will keep the same for 2018. Those key points are job creation, education, and accountability. Stamas is happy with the increase of jobs available over the past eight years.
In terms of jobs, sustaining suitable jobs and providing more opportunities was one area that the current state senator stressed. In terms of education, Stamas cites the amount of money coming back into the school systems in the district specifically for each student.
“We were able to put $14.7 billion towards education,” said Stamas. “What that means to Alpena is $700 per pupil increase since 2010.”
When it comes to accountability, the state senator serves on the appropriations committee where he looks at his teams ability to help produce a balanced budget on time without gimmicks.
“We’ve now also paid down almost $20 billion worth of debt,” said Stamas. “That equals $10,000 per child that doesn’t have to worry about that debt going forward.”
Stamas also views accountability as responding to problems in a timely manner, weighing out different options as solutions for addressing that issue. No-fault automobile insurance and PFAS are two of the problems that he cited in continuing to address and provide more solutions.
Both Weir and Stamas are poised to make a difference for the next four years if elected. They come from different backgrounds and offer leadership qualities that can help tackle issues facing the everyday northern Michigander.
“If you look at what is going to happen in the Michigan legislature, 43 out of 110 state representatives will change over, 28 of the state senators are going to change over, a new governor, a new secretary of state, a new attorney general,” said Stamas. “Having that base knowledge to continue the institution but knowing the issues I think helps me have an advantage and sets the priorities for the agendas as we move forward.”
Weir sees a different direction if elected.
“We can continue doing that same agenda which is disinvestment in your state, continued degradation of roads, continued under-funding of schools,” said Weir. “We can continue that and we’ll get the same result we’ve always gotten or we can go, I think, back to what we know has worked in the past which I said again is investing in Michigan again.”