GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan’s representation in the state legislature is going to go through big changes after this year’s election.
There will be six seats up for grabs in the state Senate, which makes up 75 percent of West Michigan’s representation.
One of seats is in the 34th District representing Newaygo, Oceana and Muskegon counties, currently held by Republican Goeff Hansen. Voters will decide between two Republicans or two Democrats in the August primary to be on the November ballot to replace Hansen.
Democrat Poppy Sias Hernandez is a newcomer to politics, but says what she has seen in the arena lately has not been to her liking.
“In recent history, what I’ve watched happen with our government is disheartening to me, and so what I want you to know is that I will serve with a passion and a zeal that I don’t think you’ve seen and not in a divisive way,” she said.
She says her history of community-based work leaves her anxious to see more for her district.
“I will fight for a thriving region where we use our resources responsibly and where we create opportunity not just for the people who have the most, but for people who want to do better,” she said.
The other Democratic candidate is Colleen Lamonte, a former teacher and state representative.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to represent a larger area of constituent, people here in West Michigan, hard-working families,” Lamonte said of making a possible return to Lansing. “People who are just, you know, trying to get by.”
One of the things Lamonte hears a lot about from those potential constituents is roads.
“We need to make a sustainable plan of how we are going to fix our roads and bridges, have money that is going to maintain those roads and bridges, and also we have got to update our water and sewer systems,” she said.
For Republicans, there is a lot of emphasis on jobs skills and building on the current economy.
State Rep. Holly Hughes, R-Montague, says it’s about education — education about jobs.
“There’s a lot of work to do in the jobs area to make sure that our kids have the skills that they need coming out of school,” Hughes said. “We have some folks in the tech center who can actually make more money than attorneys, and we need out kids to know what their options are.”
She says the numbers suggest a lot of opportunity.
“We have over 100,000, maybe even 120,000 jobs to fill in Michigan, that’s why I’m excited about the Marshall plan that the governor was in Muskegon two days ago to sign for, training our workers,” Hughes said.
Former representative Jon Bumstead is bullish on Michigan’s economy.
“Right now, I think the state’s on a really good path, good momentum,” Bumstead said. “We went into 2010, you know the state was a disaster, and I think we turned that around when Governor Snyder came in and I think it’s time to keep that momentum going.”
Bumstead continued saying there are a lot of important issues to look at but keeping track of the state’s finances to him is key to help create business and jobs.
“I think a lot of that has to do with keeping the taxes low and balancing budgets, because if we get a good credit rating by balancing the budget, it helps everybody in the state of Michigan,” he said.