BYRON CENTER, MI – Two small business owners are running for a Michigan House seat in the November 8 general election.
Republican Angela Rigas is running against U.S. Navy veteran and Democrat Kimberly Kennedy-Barrington in the 79th District race, which covers Kent County south of M-6 but west of Alto as well as parts of Allegan and Barry counties.
Endorsed by former President Donald Trump, Rigas describes herself on her campaign website as “pro-life and pro-liberty” and “a voice for voiceless students, children and veterans.” The Alto resident owns a small business and has previously been a delegate to county and state Republican conventions.
Kennedy-Barrington, of the Byron Center, is a founding member of the L3C of 100 Different Skills. A disabled small business owner after surviving a stroke and cancer sits on the Michigan Rehabilitation Services Council.
MLive/The Grand Rapids Press partnered with the Michigan League of Women Voters to provide readers with candidate information. Each candidate is asked to state their position on the various public policy issues listed below.
All responses in the Voter Guide are submitted directly by the candidate and are not edited by the League of Women Voters, except for necessary reductions where responses exceed character limits. Spelling and grammar have not been corrected. Publication of candidates’ statements and opinions is for public service purposes only and should not be considered an endorsement. League neither supports nor opposes any candidate or political party.
Information on other state, county and local primary races is available at Vote411.org.
What does Michigan need to do to 1) provide an equitable, quality public education for all students and 2) address the teacher shortage?
“Making public schools competitive by increasing student options such as charter, religious and home schooling.”
Make education a more competitive environment for our teachers (competitive salaries, insurance and pensions) with competitive public and private school options to ensure our students receive the best possible education.
“Over the past 24 months, many parents have had to be their own and other children’s teachers. And parents of children with special needs had to bear that burden alone.. I think all parents should receive professional certification and be paid to teach their children. Graduate and undergraduate parents must be awarded a teaching certificate to teach those credits toward a degree.
What policies do you support to help Michigan residents improve their economic standing?
“Eliminate income taxes, lower property taxes and make Michigan more business-friendly to encourage business. Eliminate gas taxes and return unnecessary costs to taxpayer citizens.”
“Redistributing resources to empower small businesses, the backbone of our economy. Michigan can remove barriers to the marketplace and encourage entrepreneurs across the industry’s spectrum of services and products. I will keep grassroots organizations and their leaders informed as federal and state dollars become available.
What state policies do you support regarding Michigan elections, campaign finance and voting rights?
“For the election process to be transparent, the election must be fair and robust. This must be done through voter ID laws and Michigan’s closed primary state. Absentee ballots must be reserved for military/out-of-county voters and the disabled.”
Dark money is corruption and should be kept out of the electoral process, quarterly reports of all campaigns should be established. Violations should be investigated and resolved in a timely manner.
“The integrity of voters’ rights is important to respect diversity, equity and inclusion, and to take into account the diverse voting abilities of citizens. Voters need their right to vote protected for accessibility, ease and autonomy. There is currently no mandate for polling stations to be accessible, so I will introduce bills.
What actions or policies do you support to protect Michigan’s water, air and land for current and future generations? What is your position on energy efficiency and renewable energy?
“Conservation is a particularly important issue for Michigan. Invasive species must be eradicated by supporting organizations that are already working on the issue.
Current energy sources are good if renewable energy is efficient and/or already clean. One form of renewable energy that is efficient and truly renewable is nuclear power. Investing in natural gas puts our state ahead of other areas in energy production.
“My campaign and I are starting with the least amount of paper. There are over 875 candidates running and that’s a lot of paper. Michigan’s governor and current legislators are working on water and air solutions and I’m going to step in and support them.”
How can you address racial, economic, health, and educational inequities, including the 23% of Michigan’s children and 17% of seniors living in poverty?
“Bring real education to our schools and remove destructive rhetoric and politics from education. Lower taxes and bring business and jobs back to Michigan. Ensure that health care is competitive to ensure better prices for individuals.
“Expanding MiAble Program Services. Millions of Americans with disabilities rely on a variety of public benefits for income, health care, food, and housing. Many of these benefits require individuals who report assets over $2,000 to meet an eligibility limit or meet an asset test. The federal Achieving a Better Life (ABL) Act authorizes states to establish tax-supported savings programs so that beneficiaries can save and invest without losing their eligibility.
Contribute up to $16,000 annually. Save extra earned income thanks to the ABLE to Work Act.
What steps should be taken to prevent gun violence in our society?
“Support local law enforcement, promote gun safety programs in schools, improve school safety, and remove restrictions on the purchase of firearms for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves, making Michigan a constitutional carry state and keeping Michigan your land.”
“When you apply for a gun license, you must pass a psychological test and if you fail, you cannot buy a gun. Gun licenses in Michigan are good for 5 years and 6 months before the expiration date, a psychological test must be taken and the person must forfeit the license. If there is a problem with the gun, the license will be revoked. It should be deleted, especially since it contains a hidden weapon!”
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