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Local Elections 2012: State Representative candidates respond to Rapidian questions

Winnie Brinks, Bing Goei and Keith Allard answered some tough questions to help our local citizens understand who to vote for in upcoming elections Tuesday November 6.
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BIng Goei

Winnie Brinks

Keith Allard

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Our politics beat asked the Michigan State Representative candidates Winnie Brinks and Bing Goei some questions for our Rapidian readers. We hope they help you to get informed about where they stand on issues that affect us locally. See below the questions and their answers. Candidate Roy Schmidt was not available for comment.


What is your perspective on women's health care legislation?

Winnie Brinks:

"I’m concerned that there seems to be a concerted attack on women’s health these days and disappointed in the way women are being treated in Lansing. Lately, we’ve seen legislation in Lansing that harms women’s health by restricting access to lifesaving cancer screenings (such as pap smears and mammograms) and contraceptives. Women’s healthcare clinics provide a range of services to low and middle-income women who can’t afford to go anywhere else for their healthcare. I will oppose restrictive laws that limit access to healthcare and endanger the lives of women.

Regarding unintended pregnancies, we need to do everything we can to help women choose life by encouraging adoption and supporting young mothers and families. Such policies would go a long way to having abortion be rare and used only in extraordinary circumstances like rape, incest and situations where the life or health of the woman is threatened. Ultimately, decisions about a woman’s healthcare should be left to the woman with the counsel of her family, faith and doctor."


Bing Goei:

"I believe that any health care legislation must increase the quality of life for every woman, man and child."


Keith Allard:

"Our health care system in general has become hopelessly complicated and too often rewards administrators, insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry at the expense of doctors and patients. We need to closely examine how we deliver health care in this country and shift towards a preventative model."


What would you do to address climate change and/or other environmental concerns in our region?

Winnie Brinks:

"The Republicans in the Legislature approved new laws that have seriously weakened our polluter pay and environmental protection laws. We saw the potential dangers of weakened regulations when nearly two years ago the Enbridge pipeline had a spill near Battle Creek. While the company was fined, it was still a wake-up call that we can’t afford to ignore. We rely on our woods and waters to draw visitors to our communities and to create jobs. When polluters are allowed to dump toxins on our land or water, it makes it harder for the rest of us in Michigan to earn a living and stay healthy. Businesses and families want the same things when it comes to clean water and a clean environment.

Preserving our natural resources so that we can enjoy them and use them wisely is good for families and good for business, especially agriculture. That’s why we need strong laws that go after those polluters who would run from their responsibilities and leave us to clean up the mess. We had stronger polluter pay laws at one time, and I’ll fight to restore those laws. Regarding climate change, I believe that Michigan needs an energy policy that moves us away from dirty coal and toward renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. Such policies are not only beneficial for the environment, but create jobs and improve the health of all Michiganders, especially our children."


Bing Goei:

"I will listen to the experts in this field. My personal view is that our natural resources is one of Michigan's greatest asset."


Keith Allard:

"We must rigorously enforce environmental laws and give no companies preference or exemption from following them. Protecting our Great Lakes are a priority; over the next century, access to fresh water will be a major concern and Michigan's resources, if cared for properly, will allow us to take advantage of future population shifts. Leaving the next generation a ravaged environmental landscape is just as bad as leaving them debt."


What do you plan to do to create jobs and a sustainable economy for the area? What do you see as the government's role in job creation?

Winnie Brinks:

"To create a strong Michigan economy, we have to invest in creating jobs and making sure that our workers are properly trained for these jobs. In order to draw good jobs to our communities, we also must have a well-educated workforce. Fully supporting our public schools means that we restore the nearly $1 billion that was taken from our schools in 2011 to pay for a corporate tax break that so far has not created any jobs. If our children are going to be ready for college, for vocational training, for community college programs, then good teachers, adequate textbooks, and the latest technology and classroom resources are what we need to prepare our students for their futures. We also need a well-functioning infrastructure –roads, public safety and schools – that makes commerce possible. Finally, we need a regulatory system that keeps us safe and healthy while also encouraging small business growth. A strong economy is built by both having our workers earning a decent wage to support their families and developing a good business climate where entrepreneurs can grow and invest."


Bing Goei:

"The government's role is to create the environment which will allow businesses to grow and succeed. In order to create jobs and have a sustainable economy, we must have a first class pre-K thru 16 educational system. We must have a culture that promotes and encourages entrepreneurs to establish their businesses in West Michigan. We must create a culture that welcomes and retains diverse talents from the US and the World."


Keith Allard:

"End loopholes, bailouts, and a regulatory system that favors the big campaign contributors of Big Business and Big Labor instead of the small businesses that are the true engine of our economy.  Stop picking winners and losers through the State's MEDC programs and local property tax abatements. Government's role is to administer the public sector wisely to ensure that it does not cause undue competition with the private sector. Central planning does not work to create jobs, only healthy markets free of governmental interference."


In what way(s) do you focus on long term goals? What changes will you make that will affect future generations?

Winnie Brinks:

"We have to take care of the issues that are confronting us right now as a state, but we also have to lay out a plan for the future. This is why I believe it is so important to properly fund our K-12 schools, community colleges and universities. If we don’t give all of our students the best possible education, then they won’t be prepared for the jobs of the 21st century. A skilled workforce will keep Michigan on the cutting edge of new technologies, new scientific endeavors, and will help us attract new businesses to keep our economy strong and growing. We plan for the future of our state and for future generations bmaking an excellent school system a top priority.

In addition, we need to make sure that we are developing thriving and sustainable cities in Michigan. In many ways, Grand Rapids is a model for our state, but there is more work to be done. We need to build vibrant cities that attract jobs, growth and investment. Fostering innovation and strengthening our quality of life will allow us to retain and attract creative and entrepreneurial talent. In order to do this, state government and cities should work together to encourage infill mixed-use development, develop efficient transit systems, invest in complete streets, increase greenspace and recreation, foster the arts and culture, build walkable neighborhoods, fund public safety, and promote small business and an entrepreneurial ethic. We can develop cities that serve as an infrastructure on which our businesses can build and that keep our talented professionals and workers right here in Michigan."


Bing Goei:

"Any decision that I have made in my business includes an analysis of its long term impact as well as its short term impact. It is important that our decisions are sustainable so that our future generations can concentrate on addressing issues that are unknown today. Funding for Education, Funding for our Correction System and Funding for our Infrastructure are critical issues for the future of our State."


Keith Allard:

"My whole campaign is focused on the unsustainable promises politicians have made, particularly this past decade, and what they mean for my generation (I'm 26 years old). My biggest two policy concerns are the amount of money we spend on our corrections system, now nearly 25% of the state general fund and more per capita than our neighboring states, and the structural overspending in our civil service system that is bankrupting municipalities across the state and committing the next generation to a future of debt or growth killing taxes to fulfill promises that should have never been made in the first place." 


What is your record on bipartisan efforts?

Winnie Brinks:

"My goal is to do what is right for the families, children, senior citizens and businesses of Grand Rapids. That means that I will work with, and listen to, anyone who shares this goal. I am not a politician and I’m not interested in going to Lansing to play partisan games. I will work with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to do what is right for Grand Rapids and what is right for Michigan."


Bing Goei:

"The large bi-partisan list of endorsers is an indicator of the trust that I have with leaders from both sides of the aisle."


Keith Allard:

"I ran as Grand Rapids first Independent to qualify for one of these positions because I am sick of the partisan squabbling and focus on issues that are really minute compared to the problems Michigan faces. I am proud that our campaign has attracted support from both prominent Democrats and Republicans. I have said from the beginning that I do not care which side a good idea comes from, and that we will not accomplish anything unless we stop the blame game and roll up our sleeves to get something done." 


What motivates you to run for State Representative?

Winnie Brinks:

"In Grand Rapids, we believe in honesty, hard work and commitment to our community. I am running for the state House because we haven’t seen that from our current representative. I believe that it’s time for a change and an honest voice in Lansing.

I’m running because the cuts to our schools over the last several years are shortchanging the future of our kids and our state. A solid public education system – K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities – is as attractive to businesses as any other incentives the state can offer.

I am running to create a tax system that is fair, and doesn’t lay a heavy tax burden on those who can’t afford it: our middle-class families and senior citizens. The state needs to spend our tax dollars wisely, and our tax structure should be simple and fair, with everyone paying their share to generate revenue for essential services. To do what is right for our families, I believe that we have to work together and put extreme partisan politics aside. If the voters send me to the state Capitol, I will work hard for them and with them to meet our city’s, and our state’s, needs."


Bing Goei:

"Many voters in the 76th District have asked me to run and be their representative. A representative they believe in and can trust."


Keith Allard:

"After Roy Schmidt pulled his stunt, I saw a political situation where a major party candidate had invalidated himself, and the opportunity for a straight talking independent to have a real chance at victory. I would never want to run for office if I could not be completely honest with people.  I am deeply concerned about the long-term fiscal problems our state faces, and I personally miss many of my friends who have been forced to leave Grand Rapids or Michigan the past decade to find employment. I am fighting for every one of them."


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