Which Candidate is Ready to Represent the 97th?
Click Play on the Video and Listen as you Read (Wentworth and Townsend start at 17:20)…
In Lansing, Experience Counts
My opponent, Jason Wentworth, has a very straightforward campaign. He is well financed and a Republican, and that is all he feels he needs to say to become your next Representative in Lansing. It is almost a point of pride with Mr. Wentworth that he is an ‘expert in nothing’ and will rely on the people, businesses and governmental agencies to ‘tell him’ what they need.
The problem is, we have enough people that are ‘experts in nothing’ in Lansing. We have enough people that will tell you what you want to hear to get your vote at the polls. We have enough people that let the ‘Kingmakers’ or a party tell them how to vote once they are there.
Wentworth’s positions are very generic and say little, he is ‘against what you’re against’ – gladly opposing ‘Obamacare’, Common Core, and other controversial programs without offering a viable alternative. This election has also clearly shown that these positions are very ‘flexible’ based not on what the voters of the district want, but what the special interests backing Mr. Wentworth’s candidacy want. When the DeVos family, who directly put close to $40,000 in his election fund, want him to promote a particular position, he will change his stance to their liking as quickly as he changed his positions on background checks and mental health to please the NRA to get their endorsement.
The Gladwin County Chamber recently hosted a Town Hall style debate between Dr. Robert Townsend and Jason Wentworth (click on the video and you will see it) which emphasizes the differences between us and our level of preparation to not only participate in a debate, but do the job for the 97th in Lansing. Let’s review each of the questions asked and the responses of the candidates….
Enbridge Line 5 Under the Straights
“There are two 20″ Oil Pipelines owned by Canadian Company Enbridge lying exposed under the Straights. Given the Great Lakes contain 20% of the World’s Fresh Water, How do you feel about this and what would you do with the aging infrastructure”
Jason Wentworth: ‘We should probably look at that, but as I am out knocking on doors people want to talk about jobs. We need to have a world class education, we need to reduce regulation, we need to make things better for small business. It’s a great question and I’d like to dig into that later’. He does not seem to be aware that a state commission has already reviewed the matter and published a report. He promises to look at each side and come up with a balanced solution and he’ll do it by working with and seeking the opinions of the voters of the district. Despite being asked about this question on his Facebook page, Wentworth clearly knows nothing about the pipeline, has not reviewed any of the information available on line, and decides to give his stump speech instead.
Robert Townsend: I’ve been asked about this, at the same time Wentworth was asked on his Facebook page. Unlike Mr. Wentworth, I followed through and researched it, including reviewing the report put out by the State of Michigan on the status of the line and alternatives. I discussed the risks to the environment of the pipeline and related my personal experience with an 800,000 gallon spill from the same pipeline in the Kalamazoo River in 2010. I then recommended we either remove the pipeline through the straights, relying on the southern branch of the line to supply lower Michigan or replacing it with a double walled line in the straights for environmental safety.
“School Districts and Cities are in Poor Financial Condition. Do you agree with state takeovers (Emergency Managers) and do you feel funding levels are adequate? How much funding should there be?”
Robert Townsend: No, No and as much as they need to get the job done… Schools and cities are in trouble now because their tax base has decreased to the point they can no longer fund their basic services. The entire Emergency Manager Law is based on the premise that schools fail financial due to the incompetence of their administration. This is simply not the case as more than 80% of all financial decisions are not under the control of school administrators- they are determined by policy in Lansing. Lansing is consistently reducing the per student funding, and more importantly, millions of dollars of public education funding is being siphoned off by for profit ‘Charter Schools’. Public money should go to public education, exclusively. Teachers are underfunded to the point they have to ration copy paper. We need to properly fund education as an investment in the future. Wentworth has indicated he, like his DeVos sponsors, supports public education money going to for profit charter schools like the ones that took 29% of the funding from the Detroit Public Schools, which resulted in the 97th and the rest of Michigan paying for a multimillion dollar bailout…
Jason Wentworth: Many students come from poor families and are on lunch assist programs. In order for the students to get ‘World Class’ education we must improve their situation at home. Due to their home situation they are not getting the interaction with their parents they need for a World Class Education. We need to ‘figure out something’ about the per student funding, and the constant movement of students from school to school makes budgeting hard and we need to figure out something with that. Local school boards should have more control over their affairs.
Poverty in the District
“Clare and Gladwin have some of the highest poverty rates in the state, SPECIFICALLY what would you do to change this?
Jason Wentworth: The best solution to poverty is a job. Students are not getting the basic training they need to gain employment, and he supports the use of CTE for vocation education, giving the credit for CTE to Joel Johnson and the Republicans. He also indicated unemployment goes down under Republicans and that there is a lot of ‘fraud and abuse’ in welfare. He recommends making it more cost effective to have a job than to be on public assistance. He supports Republican efforts to fight ‘fraud’ without giving examples or information about the extent of ‘fraud’ in the system or the cost effectiveness of ‘anti-fraud’ measures such as drug testing those on assistance.
Robert Townsend: When two adults working full time struggle to make ends meet for their families, it is time to look at the minimum wage again. The key to building an economy is people with some money in their pockets to buy the goods their neighbors produce. CTE is a critical element to education, so much so I suspended my campaign for a week or two in May to help promote the millage supporting the expansion of our local program. Tradesmen stay in their communities, pay taxes, and support local schools. Not everyone wants to or should take a ‘college track’ for their educations, and we need to support that choice.
No Fault Insurance
“Michigan has some of the highest Auto Insurance Rates in the Country. What can be done about that?”
Robert Townsend: No Fault Insurance is expensive for a couple of reasons- First, Michigan has, without question, the best and most comprehensive no fault insurance in the country, with unlimited catastrophic injury coverage. We get the catastrophic insurance for about $170 a year- quite a bargain. Second, there are accounting tricks being used which artificially increase our premiums and increase the profits of the insurance companies. These accounting tricks can be addressed and the costs lowered. Third, there are no ‘usual and customary’ limits on medical services under our current system, allowing widespread over charging by providers. This can be addressed without loss of services. For a full discussion, see my article on No Fault Insurance Rates.
Jason Wentworth: Would gladly reduce benefits if premiums would decrease enough. NO MENTION of those with catastrophic injuries, Wentworth clearly does not feel insurance coverage should be mandated.
Empty Prisons and Store Fronts
“There are 6 empty prisons in Michigan, and empty storefronts. What would you do about this?”
Jason Wentworth: Use empty prisons as VA Clinics, convert cells to doctor offices. No mention of our local, existing VA clinics in several communities in the 97th. He supports downtown development authorities, he wants to hear from the voters and see what their ideas are. No mention of promoting markets, or actually addressing the problems beyond letting the locals try.
Robert Townsend: Empty Prisons? Mothball them. I am glad we are seeing a reduction in incarcerated people. Michigan has one of the highest rates of incarcerated people in the country and I am glad to see, for a change, we are not filling prisons with our citizens. As for as converting them to VA clinics, as a doctor I don’t want to see a patient in a jail cell in a prison, it just sends the wrong message. As for storefronts, the key to a good economy is people with money in their pockets to buy products they need. No-one is using typewriters anymore, If I owned a typewriter repair store, I would go out of business. Or I would look at the market and realize that with minor retraining, my store and employees could repair computers. I would recognize and adjust to my market, and as a state we can help businesses do that. Question, where are the wind turbines around Alma built? Why aren’t they built in Michigan using the empty auto plants and unemployed skilled workers in Flint?
Closing Statements and Summary
Robert Townsend: The key to a good representative is the ability to get to the source of the problem rather than just ‘go with the flow’ and get rid of things people don’t like. Research, Problem Solving Skills, Clarity of Vision, and above all Preparation and Knowledge Base. People are tired of canned responses, they want people in Lansing that can think on their feet from a basis of solid preparation and knowledge. As a doctor, I’ve stopped at the scenes of an accident and helped get the situation under control, that is what we need in Lansing now.
Jason Wentworth: I’m continuing to go door to door to listen to your problems and I hope to have your support in November.
Following the debate, I spoke with several members of the audience. The overall impression seems to be that not only was Mr. Wentworth very inexperienced, he was completely unprepared for the debate, unable to go beyond his usual stump speech. I was complimented not only for actually answering the questions, but it was clear that I had put the time in to study the issues of importance to the district. Rather than talk about the ‘Idea Fairy’ and suggest turning jail cells into doctors offices, I had thought through the problems and developed actual solutions that would work.
The 97th Deserves a PREPARED Representative
While my opponent, Jason Wentworth, regularly states he isn’t an expert in anything, I don’t view that as a good qualification for the position of Representative. I suspect that many of you in the 97th will agree with me. We need life experience, we need training, we need good critical thinking skills and we need some experts in Lansing.
My expertise is in medicine, specifically with Pain and Addiction. Pain and Addiction are critical issues facing the state. I feel having a physician working in those fields could bring a great deal of information and even some solutions to the table. I’m a working physician in the economy and deal every day with working people all over the state.
My opponent has a state position and is hoping to get a better state job. I’m taking a pay cut and disrupting my practice because I think I can make a difference for you in Lansing. I don’t have a political machine behind me, I have you, the voters. My support comes from the 97th, not the special interests that are supporting Mr. Wentworth. I answer to you, he has few positions he didn’t read directly off the Michigan Republican Party website, and he has already shown he will compromise his integrity to get a choice endorsement from the NRA.
We have enough special interests politicians like Jason Wentworth in Lansing, send a real fresh voice that will represent the 97th. Republican, Democrat or Independent, your BEST CHOICE in November is Dr. Robert Townsend…