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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Michigan Senate District 18

Duties: The Michigan Senate shares responsibility with the Michigan House of Representatives to enact new laws and amend or repeal existing laws.Qualifications: State Senators may serve a maximum of two full terms. They must be at least 21 years of age and a registered voter in their district. There are 38 State Senate districts which are re-apportioned after each census.Term: 4 years

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  • Candidate picture

    Kai W. Degraaf
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Thomas A. Albert
    (Rep)

Biographical Information

EDUCATION: What should Michigan do, if anything, to 1) provide an equitable, quality public education for all students and 2) address the shortage of teachers?

ECONOMIC SECURITY: What policies do you support to help Michigan residents improve their economic positions?

ELECTIONS: What state policies do you support regarding Michigan elections, campaign funding and voting rights?

ENVIRONMENT/ENERGY: 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?

SOCIAL JUSTICE: How would you address racial, economic, health and education inequities, including Michigan’s 23% of children and 17% of seniors living in poverty?

GUNS: What steps, if any, should be taken to curb gun violence in our communities?

Occupation / Current Position ATTORNEY AT LAW
Education HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA -CITY HIGH SCHOOL GRAND RAPIDS 1976; BA - UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN ANN ARBOR 1983; JD -SETON HALL UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL NEWARK 1993
Qualifications and Experience NO PRIOR EXPERIENCE IN POLITICAL OFFICE; 26 YRS AS SOLE-PRACTITIONER ATTORNEY; FLUENT 5 LANGUAGES; LIFE WORKING WITH PEOPLE OF DIVERSE BACKGROUNDS FROM ALL USA / WORLD; 5 YRS GOV. CONTRACT MANAGEMENT
1) RAISE EDUCATION STANDARDS FOR TEACHERS, PARENTS AND STUDENTS; 2) MAKE IT EASIER FOR PEOPLE WHO ALREADY HAVE A COLLEGE DEGREE TO OBTAIN A TEACHER DEGREE / CERTIFICATION WITH SOME ADDITIONAL ED INSTRUCTION
1) OPEN UP STUDENT SLOTS IN NUMEROUS FIELDS IN OUR UNIVERSITIES AND TRADE SCHOOLS, INCLUDING NURSING, MEDICINE, ENGINEERING, SKILLED TRADES, AND FARMING (HELP GUARANTEE A FUTURE WITH MICHIGAN FOOD) ; 2) DIRECT HOUSING (RENT/MORTGAGE) ASSISTANCE TO STRUGGLING FAMILIES AND SENIORS; 3) MAKE MICHIGAN A LEADER IN "GREEN JOBS" BY PROMOTING, FOSTERING AND SUPPORTING THE CREATION OF BUSINESSES THAT HELP CITIZENS UTILIZE SOLAR, HYDROGEN AND OTHER NON-FOSSIL FUEL FORMS OF POWER 4) MICHIGAN SHOULD TAKE MORE OF A DIRECT ROLE IN SUPPORTING STUDENTS GOING TO COLLEGE AND TRADE SCHOOL-- AS IN, HELP THEM PAY THEIR TUITION 5) ABOLISH DEBTOR PRISON
VOTING SHOULD NOT BE COMPLICATED. WE SHOULD NOT IMPOSE ONEROUS ID OR REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS ON PEOPLE WHO WANT TO EXERCISE THEIR RIGHT TO VOTE. WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE OFFICE OF PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, I DO NOT SUPPORT TERM LIMITS. MAKE CAMPAIGN FUNDING 100% TRANSPARENT BY MAINTAINING REPORTING OF ALL DONATION $$$
1 -PROHIBIT SELLING / GIVING MICHIGAN WATER TO ANY PRIVATE ENTITY WHICH IN TURN SELLS THE WATER TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC. 2 - REQUIRE ANY BUSINESSES THAT TAKE WATER FROM MICHIGAN LAKES AND RIVERS TO REPLENISH SAME WITH CLEAN WATER IN EQUAL QUANTITIES. 3- SPEND TAX DOLLARS AND REQUIRE POLLUTING BUSINESSES TO DO ENVIRONMENTAL CLEAN UP. 4 - IDENTIFY AND PROMOTE ALTERNATIVE MEANS OF CROP FERTILIZATION IN ORDER TO REMEDY RUN-OFF POLLUTION IN RURAL AND FARMING AREAS IN ORDER TO SAVE OUR LAKES, RIVERS AND STREAMS.
1) REQUIRE THAT ONLY HEALTHY FOOD IS DISTRIBUTED AT CHURCH PANTRIES, SCHOOLS AND OTHER FOOD DEPOTS; THIS MEANS DO NOT GIVE STATE CONTRACTS TO COMPANIES WHO SUPPLY SCHOOL AND NURSING HOMES WITH THINGS LIKE SODA, EXTRA-SUGARY DRINKS; NON-NUTRITIVE NON-NATURAL FOOD SUBSTANCES, ETC.) 2) SPEND MORE RESOURCES ON EDUCATION PROGRAMS AND INCREASE EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS IN LOW-INCOME AREAS; SPEND SIGNIFICANT RESOURCES ON EARLY CHILDHOOD LEARNING THROUGHOUT MICHIGAN. 3) ACTIVELY PROMOTE AND FUND DROP-OUT PREVENTION PROGRAMS IN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOLS AND HIGH SCHOOLS; 4) GIVE EXTRA STATE TAX CREDITS TO FAMILIES WHO WANT TO TAKE CARE OF THEIR ELDERLY.
REQUIRE THAT ALL GUN PURCHASERS CLEAR A CRIMINAL / MENTAL HEALTH BACKGROUND CHECK.
Occupation / Current Position State Representative, 86th House District
Education University of Michigan, Bachelor's degree in political science and history; Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Michigan State University with a concentration in finance
Qualifications and Experience Former Marine Corps Officer, Former Investor for the State of Michigan Retirement Systems, State Representative from 2016 to present
Michigan has made significant investments to ensure equitable funding for all students. Last year, my colleagues and I equalized the per student foundation allowance and this year, we increased it. Additionally, at-risk funding was increased by $223 million and special education reimbursement funding by $246 million. We also appropriated over $1.5 billion to bring sustainability to our broken public school pension system.

Michigan is facing a significant teaching shortage and when we lack quality educators, our children suffer. That’s why I helped create and pass a teacher recruitment and retention plan totaling $580 million.
I believe that the record-high inflation we are experiencing is significantly impacting the economic positions of Michigan residents, and families will continue to struggle until this is addressed. In the House, I have voted in support of substantial tax relief for all Michiganders which unfortunately, the Governor vetoed.

Michigan residents cannot improve their economic positions if our state does not have a strong business environment and workforce. I have supported funding for skilled workforce training and across the board, I believe that the best way for someone to improve their position is through a good paying job.
Michigan voters need to be able to trust our voting system and, unfortunately, there are many voters right now that are lacking that trust. I am supportive of policies that ensure Michigan stays up to date as technology changes and that elections are safe and fair. This term, I have voted in favor of legislation to strengthen proof of identification requirements, expand polling place locations, train election challengers, and update our voter file.

I believe Michigan does a fair job at ensuring that campaign funding is transparent and available for anyone to see by requiring detailed financial reports for elected positions.
Ensuring safe and sustainable usage of our natural resources is critical to Michigan’s future. This year, I supported a historic infrastructure plan that focused heavily on clean drinking water, wastewater systems, dam safety, broadband, state and local parks, and low carbon energy expansion. I believe that the Biden administration and far-left agenda for a Green New Deal is irresponsible, and it is unrealistic to shift entirely to renewable energy so quickly. Families who are already struggling would be forced to bear the costs of this plan. We have an abundance of natural resources that we should be using responsibly to keep costs low.
We need to create an environment where people feel they have opportunities available to improve their lives. It’s clear that we will not reduce disparities by furthering government dependency. Government assistance must include clear pathways to independence which is achieved through good paying jobs.

Michigan children have been negatively impacted by school closures as they rely on the stability that comes with being in a classroom. That’s why I was adamant that schools needed to be back in-person. Regarding seniors, they are especially vulnerable to increasing inflationary costs due to their fixed incomes and they need tax relief.
Violent criminals that are using guns should be placed behind bars instead of staying on the streets. We need to support local law enforcement and make sure they have the resources they need to keep our streets safe. That’s why I advocated for additional resources for law enforcement in our most recent state budget. The budget included $130 million to be used for recruitment and retention, training, new equipment and community policing efforts.