The Rapidian Home

An interview with congressional candidate Patrick Miles

Underwriting support from:


/Wikimedia Commons

The retiring of Vern Ehlers, who for 17 years held the U.S. House of Representatives seat for Michigan's 3rd District, leaves both republicans and democrats vying for votes. One of the democratic candidates is local lawyer and civic leader Pat Miles, who has been part of the Grand Rapids community for decades serving local small businesses as a legal representative, as well as serving on various boards in a trustee capacity.  I sat down with him, at his campaign office to talk about the political landscape and why he believes a Democrat could win the general election in November after over 25 years of Republican representation.  

In a discussion on all of the topics at the forefront of the community and the nation, Miles spoke on why he thinks he can win the August 3 democratic primary, and also his belief that the voters of this district will look past party lines, primarily to elect someone who will get down to business. From the economy to clean energy, to education, to topics grappled with at both the family level as well as the international level, candidate Miles believes that the people of West Michigan are looking for a problem-solver first. He said they want to elect someone devoid of ideology and more focused on what can be done to bridge the divide in politics that continues to paralyze Washington.

Douglas Dooley: Given your background in the private sector and your roles in the West Michigan business community, what convinced you that the Democratic party was the best organization for your campaign?

Pat Miles: The Democratic Party stands for working families, I have a non-partisan approach, but have always been a Democrat, which stands with people and organizations that don't have the ability to stand up to the government alone, they don't have the ability to buy influence.  You can see it throughout history, the civil rights' movement, women's rights, the environment, repeatedly, that is the Democratic Party, thats where their values come down. That's where I am and always will be.

DD: What is your plan to demonstrate your independence from straight party-line votes? 

Miles: What's in the best interest of the 3rd District? What's in the best interest of the nation? It really is going to come down to the policy. The party knows that coming from this district, I wouldn't be able to get re-elected if I simply voted straight party-line. I can't vote if I was someone in a 90 percent democratic district. This is a swing district. I am going to vote with the values that I grew up with.

DD: How would you describe your relationship with President Obama, and what are some of the key similarities and some of the differences in policy between your potential career in Washington and the administration’s?

Miles: Both are consensus builders by nature and both look for the common ground rather than being adversarial. But differences include that he should have vetoed the 2009 Omnibus Spending Bill.  It was weighed down by a lot of pork. In Afghanistan, only two options given were more troops and withdraw, but I think there was a middle ground, a more international effort.

DD: Given the state of the economy, and its sluggish recovery, what do you think you could bring to Washington that would help the dialog to foster better economic policies?

Miles: There has been a little bit of improvement. Unemployment has come down but people are still looking for jobs. When you are in a recessionary economy, you need to encourage consumer spending, restore consumer confidence, accelerate lending to small businesses, perhaps a middle-class tax cut, and help small businesses with accelerated depreciation on investments in equipment to get a faster of return.

DD: What has been the key to your fundraising record to date, in terms of how have you been able to secure more financial backing than almost all of your opponents, whether they be Democrat or Republican?

Miles: People like the message. It is resonating (that we need) to get beyond lock-step party approach. Politicians have lost their way and are doing politicians' business rather than the people's business. They have been focusing on their careers rather than the people. 

DD: How are you convincing the democratic voters to get out to the primaries on August 3?  What makes this election in West Michigan important to them?

Miles: I'm walking. We have a lot of volunteers doing the same thing and success breeds success. First-time voters in 2008 have not lost heart and can still make a difference. (I'm trying to) reach every voter, offering specific solutions, and I'm a problem solver and represent West Michigan values.

DD: What do you think are your chances, if you win the primary, to become the first Democratic U.S. House of Representative member from this district in more than 25 years?  How do you plan to work the middle ground between your principles and the voting habits of this area?

Miles: The key is to have the resources to get the message out through a variety of media and knocking on doors to get to voters. The independent voter looks closely at what candidate is best at solving problems.

DD: What would you like the voters to think about when they enter the booth on August 3 and then possibly again in November if you are on the ballot? What separates you from the other candidates that are running for the 3rd District seat that will be the key to victory?

Miles: Who is going to best represent their values and solve problems? I think thats what voters normally think about. Effectiveness is a key criteria in this district, and my top issues, which are Jobs and the economy, education and fiscal discipline.

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.