Veterans life insurance

4 seek Republican nomination in crowded 98th District House primary

Three former lawmakers and one newcomer round out a crowded four-way Republican primary in the new upper-inch State House district this year.

Huron County’s Kurt Damrow, a one-term state legislator, two former Sanilac County lawmakers, Greg Alexander and Joe O’Mara, and Westley Tahash, a premier candidate from Tuscola County, will vie for the go-ahead from the GOP on August 2.

The new 98th District, once dominated by Midland politicians, now encompasses all of Huron and Sanilac counties, as well as eastern Tuscola County outside of Caro and north-central Lapeer County, including including North Branch.

The winner will go to the general election to face Democrat Sandusky Bob Mroczek, his party’s only candidate to file this spring.

For the four Republican hopefuls, there was no single issue propelling their candidacies, but each is equally dissatisfied with the state’s direction. They also all tout their own experience in and out of political service as qualifications to fill the role in a historically deeply Republican region.

“A lot of the changes that need to be made need to be made at the state level before local governments can adapt and federal governments are allowed to adapt,” Tahash said. “I think the state level is really going to set the tone for both areas. (Local lawmakers) are trying to do the same with our state government, so they are not left behind. … And in turn, the feds have overruled it for a long time, and so it has to be the state saying, “Hey, we’ll take care of our own.”

Almost all referred to needs for certain measures related to election security, a focus on infrastructure and the economy, and maintaining state spending.

Former sewer commissioner focuses on conservatism and infrastructure

Alexander, a former Sanilac County sewer commissioner, called himself a “big infrastructure guy.”

He cited his role in hundreds of projects in the region among his strongest attributes and spoke of the importance of good roads and the drainage system in supporting a growing economy.

Education and fully funded police protection and ambulance services were also high on his agenda. Others, however, were rooted in his faith, he said, such as right to life issues.

“I’m very strong with the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Church, so obviously they help me, my principles and my ethics,” Alexander said Sunday. “I’m talking to you between cleaning the parish festival hall yesterday. I am active in the community. I did things to show that I want to support my community.

Alexander previously ran in the 83rd District, which currently includes all of the townships of Sanilac and Burtchville, Fort Gratiot and Port Huron in St. Clair County. He is currently represented by State Representative Andrew Beeler.

“My thought process, I’m not running against anyone. This district was established as a new district with no sitting legislators. … Of course, I focus a lot on agriculture. Agriculture is king in this neighborhood, and the economy, the local economy in this neighborhood is really important. It depends on agriculture,” he said. “Honestly, I wouldn’t have raced if there hadn’t been a change in the neighborhood because Beeler is doing a good job.”

Still, the Sanilac County resident said his priorities from two years ago remained largely the same when he ran in 2020.

“It hurts me that America is so divided at this point, and I think a lot of that is driven by the media and the feelings of a lot of people. I’m not a tweeter, so I never been really offended by the president,” Alexander said, referring to former President Donald Trump. “I’m not a real big fan of the president (as an office) because he’s just kind of a place to … But the policies, the policies that were adjusted when he was in power, were exactly what America needed. Our people were working.

Kurt Damrow

Huron County candidate touts beliefs and flexibility

Damrow, of Pigeon, has experience as a town and county elected official in Huron County in addition to his tenure at the State House in 2010.

He lost in a primary race for re-election in 2012.

While serving as a state legislator, he filed a complaint with the Michigan State Police against several Huron County officials alleging a slew of illegal activity based on information he received. of his constituents. The law enforcement agency later found the allegations to be unfounded in 2011, and a specially appointed Genesee County prosecutor later closed an investigation into allegations of filing a false report. a crime for lack of evidence.

Since his time in state office, when Damrow said he assessed issues affecting the area as a “border community,” he has remained “deeply involved” in working with veterans.

He also highlighted advocating for rural representation in water and sewer subsidy programs and challenging FEMA’s redrawn floodplain maps showing where flood insurance is mandatory among homeowners. , as examples of its priorities.

However, when asked what brought his interest back to state politics, Damrow opened up about his involvement with free pantries in March 2020 – celebrating his 235th last week – and all the issues that have arisen at the state level since.

“People, I think they’re starting to understand how much government can control your life, your family, your finances, your health, and I think the last two years have really been an eye opener for people,” he said. he declared. “They now see how important it is to have candidates and elected officials who have experience instead of sending people there for on-the-job training.”

Damrow supports further investigation into the 2020 presidential election, but would not provide details.

And while he identified as a Tea Party Republican a decade ago, Damrow said he had the flexibility to bring people together, attributing his time in the military, particularly at the base of the Guard Air National from Selfridge, after 9/11.

“We all just had jobs. We worked together. We discussed everything. We planned ahead,” he said. “…We had to be flexible, so we know that everything we put in doesn’t have to be in stone. That’s probably the biggest problem at Lansing is that they make laws that they believe are cookie-cutter for the job in every situation, and it never is.

Joe O'Mara

Return hope has an eye on finances and infrastructure

Joe O’Mara served a two-year term on Sanilac County Council, also seeking a state-level position in 2020. He also served on the Port Sanilac Downtown Development Authority.

The Sanilac resident said his decades of experience as a chartered accountant and as a partner with a major accounting firm will help him use his expertise in fraud investigations, design and systems test, financial issues, tax structures and to better master Money K-12.

“There’s too much spending, causing too much inflation, shortages in the supply chain because of bad relationships, and a lot of nonsense,” O’Mara said. “We have lost a lot of jobs and are more dependent on unreliable partners. I only worry about our competitiveness. If we continue not to take full advantage of our strengths and capabilities, we will no longer be as competitive as ‘previously.

Unlike his campaign in 2020, and no longer inhibited by the early months of COVID-19, O’Mara said he met thousands of potential voters going door to door.

And there, he says he hasn’t heard too much about fringe politics. Instead, he also looked to infrastructure, with roads, communications and cellphone towers as examples of how the thumb “has been underserved for generations”.

“I will be like a dump dog to straighten out the infrastructure,” he said.

“I focus on the big impact – the things that are going to affect everyone. Jobs, have good roads here. I mean, our roads aren’t built for the loads they carry. These simple things,” O’Mara said. “You know, in education and properly funded police. These are so important. These are the big impact elements that will help us to be more competitive. We need to bring back jobs. Extremism, you have the conspiracy theory guys going after things that are just plain nonsense, and then you have the liberal side that just wants to spend all our money, and that really weakens our country.

Westley Tahash

Newcomer focuses on accountability and constitutional rights

Tahash, from Deford, admitted he was the rookie when it comes to elections and campaigning.

“But it’s definitely not the first time I’ve been in a leadership role, taking over as needed,” he said.

The new father of a nine-month-old girl said he spent five years in the military, deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. Coming from an environment that gives life and death decisions, he said: “Leadership is a big part of my life. ”

“And I own my own construction company, so taking employees that I have and helping to mentor them as well, has really had an impact on me,” he said.

Tahash briefly referenced election issues, adding, “Everyone I’ve spoken to, you know, feels the (2020) election was stolen, and I believe the same.” He said there needs to be an emphasis on accountability and transparency in Lansing and more emphasis on constitutional rights.

He also said he sees a great need to accommodate farmers and help the state step out of the shadows of federal environmental and labor agencies, which he said “enforce regulations that ‘they were just creating’ and had not been ‘voted’.

Then there was the abolition of tax on pensions, among other things, and the control of education expenditure.

“We need to start auditing these schools and figure out where the money is wasted,” Tahash said. “There are so many funds wasted when it comes to our school system that needs to be addressed so how do we start directing those funds to students so they can start getting a proper education and these schools start really compete on what they have to offer academically.

Contact Jackie Smith at (810) 989-6270 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @Jackie20Smith.