BYRON CENTER, MI — Two small business owners are going head-to-head in the Nov. 8 general election for a Michigan House seat.
Republican Angela Rigas is competing against U.S. Navy veteran and Democrat Kimberly Kennedy-Barrington, in the 79th District race, which covers Kent County south of M-6 but west of Alto as well as some of Allegan and Barry counties.
Rigas, who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump, describes herself on her campaign website as “pro-life and pro-liberty” and a “voice for the voiceless students, children, and veterans.” The Alto resident is a small business owner and has previously been a delegate for county and state Republican conventions.
Kennedy-Barrington, of Byron Center, is the founder of 100 Shades of Diverse Abilities L3C. The small business owner, who is disabled after surviving a stroke and cancer, sits on the Michigan Council for Rehabilitation Services.
MLive/The Grand Rapids Press partnered with the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Michigan to provide candidate information for readers. Each candidate was asked to outline their stances on a variety of public policy issues listed below.
All responses in the voter guide were submitted directly by the candidate and have not been edited by the League of Women Voters, except for necessary cuts if a reply exceeded character limitations. Spelling and grammar were not corrected. Publication of candidate statements and opinions is solely in the interest of public service and should NOT be considered as an endorsement. The League never supports or opposes any candidates or political parties.
Information on other state, county and local primary races can be found at Vote411.org.
What should Michigan do, if anything, to 1) provide an equitable, quality public education for all students and 2) address the shortage of teachers?
“Make public schools competitive by increasing students access to alternative schools such as charter, religious and home school options also have money fallow the students.
Make education a more competitive environment for our educators (competitive wages, insurance and retirements) with competing public and private school options to ensure our students receive the very best education.”
“Many parents had to be their and other children’s teacher these last 24 months. And parents of special needs children had to bare that burden alone.. I think all of the parents should receive a paraprofessional certificate and get paid to teach their children. Parents that have graduate and undergraduate degrees should have those credits conferred to a teaching degree and award them a teaching certificate.”
What policies do you support to help Michigan residents improve their economic positions?
“Remove the income tax, reduce property tax and make Michigan more business friendly to encourage commerce. Eliminate the gas tax and return unnecessary spending back to the tax paying citizens.”
“Redistributing the wealth to empower the backbone of our economy which is Small Businesses. Michigan can eliminate barriers to the marketplace and empower entrepreneurs across the industry spectrum of services and products. I will ensure that grassroot organizations and their leaders are made aware when federal and state dollars are available.”
What state policies do you support regarding Michigan elections, campaign funding and voting rights?
“Elections should be fair and robust to ensure a transparent election process. This must be done with voter ID laws and making Michigan a closed primary state. Absentee ballots should only be reserved for military/out of county and handicapped individuals.
Dark money is corruption and must stay out of the electoral process, quarterly reports for all campaigns must be established. Violations must be investigated and resolved in a timely manner.”
“Integrity of Voter’s Rights It is critical that diversity, equity and inclusion be respected and a citizen’s diverse ability to participate in voting be considered. Voters need their right to vote safeguarded for accessibility, ease, and autonomy. Currently there are no mandates placed for voting centers to be accessible, so I will introduce bills.”
What actions or policies do you support to protect Michigan’s water, air and land for current and future generations? What is your position on energy efficiency and renewable energy?
“Conservation is an important issue, especially for Michigan. Invasive species must be delt with by supporting organizations already working on the issue.
Renewable energy is great if it was only efficient and or already cleaner then current energy sources. One form of renewable energy that is efficient and truly renewable is nuclear energy. Investing into natural gas would also give our state an edge over other areas for energy production.”
“I am beginning with me and my campaign by running with minimal use of paper. There are more than 875 candidates running and that’s a lot of paper that will get thrown away. The Governor of Michigan and the current legislators are currently working on the water and air solutions and I will come in and support them.”
How would you address racial, economic, health and education inequities, including Michigan’s 23% of children and 17% of seniors living in poverty?
“Bring real education to our schools and remove destructive rhetoric and politics from education. Cut taxes and facilitate bringing commerce and jobs back to Michigan. Ensure that healthcare is competitive to ensure better rates for individuals.”
“Expanding the services of the MiAble program. Millions of Americans with disabilities depend on a wide variety of public benefits for income, health care, food, and housing. Many of these benefits require meeting a means or resource test that limits the eligibility of individuals who report more than $2,000 in assets. The federal Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act authorized states to establish tax-advantaged savings programs so individuals with disabilities can save and invest money without jeopardizing eligibility for public benefits.
Contribute up to $16,000 each year. Save additional earned income thanks to the ABLE to Work Act.”
What steps, if any, should be taken to curb gun violence in our communities?
“Supporting local law enforcement, introduce gun safety programs in education. Improve security for education institutions and remove restrictions on access for firearms purchases for law abiding citizens for self defense as well as making Michigan a constitutional carry state and keeping Michigan a stand your ground state.”
“When applying for a Gun license a psychological test should be taken and if you fail, you may NOT purchase a gun. Gun licenses are good for 5 years in Michigan and I think 6 months prior to the expiration date a psychological test should be given and the person fails their license should be revoked. If there has been a gun incident the license should be revoked especially for concealed weapon carry!”