99th District candidates debate before packed Mount Pleasant City Building
College affordability, sustainability and supporting small businesses were topics of discussion for the 99th District House of Representatives debate Oct. 13.
Democratic candidate Bryan Mielke and Republican candidate Roger Hauck spoke for more than one hour to a crowd at the Mount Pleasant City Building. The two candidates touched on myriad issues and discussion was spawned by questions from the audience.
Voters in Isabella County and parts of Midland County will choose their next state representative during the Nov. 8 general election.
The winner will replace term-limited Mount Pleasant native Kevin Cotter as a member of the Michigan House of Representatives. A Republican, Cotter also serves as the Speaker of the House.
“I promise to do the best I can to bring back better government,” Mielke said. “Government should be of, by and for the people. It’s time to represent Michiganders and not buy into special interests.”
Throughout the night, the two spoke on issues raised through audience submitted questions. While both presented similar answers to topics of taxation or the Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline, they presented different plans to achieve those goals.
A major point of contention for both candidates was government transparency.
Michigan ranks last in the nation in terms of state transparency according to a study by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity, two nonprofit organizations that promote government transparency and ethics. Mielke said transparency would be one of the first things he would begin work on if elected to office.
Hauck said the lack of transparency has resulted in failing veterans’ nursing homes around the state, abuse of Freedom of Information Act laws and events like the Flint water crisis.
The only issue the two expressed differences on was how they would ensure members of the LGBT community in the 99th District were protected from discrimination.
Though both agreed the community’s protection was of utmost importance, but Hauck said it was important to keep in mind the rights of others as well.
“I don’t think anyone should be discriminated against,” Hauck said. “But we also need to look at that sometimes, we’re so concerned about one group and what they want, we can trample on the feet of a different group. It’s something we really, really need to look at very closely.”
Both Hauck and Mielke serve on the Union Charter Township Board of Trustees.
Hauck, a shop employee at Delfield Co., is a license contractor and a graduate of Beal City High School.
In addition to serving on the Union Board of Trustees, he was also the Chief Union Steward at Delfield Co. Hauck does not have a college degree.
“I’m not a politician,” he said. “I’m not running because I want to become a politician. I’m running because I love the citizens of this district. I love these hardworking people and people who work hard deserve good representation.”
Mielke, a Central Michigan University alumnus, has been on the Union board since 2009. He also has served as a township trustee since 2012 and spent two years on the Union Township Economic Development Board. For the past 25 years, Mielke worked as a software engineer.
Three issues Mielke hopes to tackle if elected into office are increasing transparency in state government, increasing state funding for public education and stimulating job growth for small businesses. Hauck wants to address “taxation, (governmental) regulation and education.”