Seven Candidates For 80th District Of Allegan County Share Goals, Beliefs At Fennville Forum
The seven candidates running for the 80th District of Allegan County assembled in the auditorium of the Fennville High School on Tuesday evening.
The candidates were: Mary Whiteford, Eric De Witt, Bill Sage, James Siver, Jim Storey, Cindy Gamrat and Kevin Travis.
Gary Stevens of WHTC Radio was the moderator and the forum was broadcast live on the air.
Steven McNeal, head of the Republican Party, welcomed everyone and the forum began.
Stevens asked each candidate to introduce themselves:
Whiteford is a former pediatric nurse; Gamrat apologized for her indiscretions and said, “Lord knows I’ve paid for it. I now put my district first.”
Jim Storey is an Allegan County commissioner. Sage says, “I have a passion for the 80th District.” De Witt is a graduate of Hope College. Travis is an educator and went to law school. Siver has been an attorney for 33 years and worked as a professor at several different colleges.
The moderator began asking the candidates questions.
Question: “Why did you file as a Republican candidate?
De Witt: “I am a Republican and I agree with the positions of the Republicans.”
Sage: “I grew up in a Democratic family. At age 23 I changed, became a Republican. I’m a Reagan Republican.”
Storey: “I believe we the people should rule our country.”
Gamrat: “I believe in the party platform and life. I vote for lower taxes.”
Whiteford: “I believe in limited government, personal responsibility, that our rights come from God not the government. I believe in fewer taxes and more freedoms.”
Question: “Are you a paid member of the Republican Party?”
Gamrat said yes, Storey said not sure, Sage, De Witt, Travis and Siver all said no.
Question: “Are you a member of a rifle coalition or the NRA?”
Siver, Travis, and De Witt all said no. Sage, Gamrat, Storey, and Whiteford are all members of the NRA.
Question: “Would you support raising Michigan’s gas tax if it was used for road funding only?”
All candidates answered no to that question.
Question: “Would you support changing the Michigan electoral college to winner take all?”
All the candidates answered yes.
Question: “How did you vote on Proposal I on road funding?”
All the candidates said they voted no except Siver who couldn’t remember.
Question: “Should current Michigan wage laws be overturned?”
Travis, yes, De Witt, yes Storey yes, Gamrat yes, Sage and Whiteford said no.
Question: “How would you increase fees and taxes to support road funding?”
Travis: “Legalize marijuana to fund road repairs.”
Siver: “We need to get creative.”
Whiteford: “We must live within our means.”
De Witt: “Funds in budget need to be reallocated. Gas tax should be used for roads.”
Question: “Is Common Core the best model for education? Does it provide local control?”
All candidates answered no except Siver who answered yes.
Moderator Stevens asked Gamrat a specific question: “Why do you think the legislature will seat you if you should win this election, since they chose expulsion for you? What about the possible legal allegations?”
Gamrat was defiant. “I am not concerned with any legal concerns. If I win this election in Allegan County, I will fight for our district.”
Stevens targeted Mary Whiteford next. “What will you do about the $70,000 owed from your last election bid?”
Whiteford answered, “I am taking care of it and I will be here for the people of Allegan County.”
Question: “If you weren’t running whom would you would vote for on this slate?”
All of the candidates refused to give an answer except Travis who said, “I for sure would not vote for Gamrat.”
The last question asked the candidates: “Why should anyone vote for you?”
Siver: “I’m an honest man and I support all the freedoms of our country.”
Travis: “I will work for the people. We need a community college in Allegan County.”
De Witt: “I will bring honesty and integrity to the office.”
Sage: “I’m one of you. I’m not a politician. I’m a statesman.”
Storey: “I spent a lifetime preparing for this job working for the people.”
Gamrat: “I have a strong conservative record.”
Whiteford: “I’ll spend every single dollar in our budget efficiently. I will help veterans and children.”
McNeal thanked the Fennville High School for the use of the auditorium.